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Difficulty V
Length 4.5 Miles
Flow Range 350 - 700 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 43 minutes ago 248 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 08/02/2020 9:35 pm

River Description

From the upper put-in, the Upper Middle Fork provides a brief warm up until Clearwater Creek comes in on the right. From Clearwater Creek to the former diversion dam site and the entrance to the gorge, the Upper Middle is almost one continuous rapid. Two or three times, the rapids culminate in class V moves, but everything in between is constant class IV to IV+. When the water is high, this section gets considerably harder. 

The entrance to the gorge is at the former site of the Middle Fork Nooksack Dam where a bridge crosses teh river. The Gorge is actually a notch easier than the upper middle, but the two hundred foot vertical walls are going to make it a little more intimidating. The first rapid below the bridge is Ice Box Paradise. This is the obvious rapid seen from the bridge with the hole on the right next to an undercut grotto. It doesn't look like much from the bridge, but don't worry, it'll be bigger from the seat of your boat. At higher water a sneak route cleans up on the left. The next drop is Leap of Faith. This is just around the corner from what can be seen from the bridge. At Leap of Faith the gorge walls come down to about ten feet apart as the whole river drops down a chute into the netherworld. Luckily the rapid is easily run center right, but for first timers this can be a scary experience. A few more fun ledges in the heart of the gorge lead to Hawaii Five-0. Scout and run Hawaii Five-O on the right. It's a highlight for many. The next major rapid is S-Turn. This is marked by a landslide coming in from the right. The rapid changes from year to year so be sure to scout on the right. One more ledge after S-Turn is the last rapid in the Gorge, Super Boof. If it's clean, Super Boof is a fun straight forward boof down the center slot. An old-growth fir that fell in from the right cliff a few years ago created serious consequences. A fixed line coming in from the cliff on the right has provided the option of a scout and or portage.

After Super Boof, the gorge opens up and the rapids get easier, except for Cheese Grater. This is a surprise rapid that comes when the river makes a turn to the left. At low water walking it on the left is a standard option because a missed line on the right means you're going to lose some skin.

LOGISTICS: The take-out is on the river left side of the only bridge that crosses the Middle Fork of the Nooksack on Mosquito Lake Rd. To Reach the halfway put-in at the former dam site (more commonly used), head North on Mosquito Lake Road, and take your first right on the unmarked Middle Fork of the Nooksack Road (FR 38). Drive upstream to mile 2.6 and a locked gate on the right. Park here and hike down across the bridge to the former dam site and entrance to the gorge.

For the upper put-in, keep driving past turn-off a couple miles and over the bridge at Clearwater Creek to a Y in the Road. Go right at the Y, to a bridge with a locked gate over the Middle Fork. Put in here.

For another nearby run check out Clearwater Creek.

Rapid Descriptions


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Hale Hanaway
15 years ago

Since the floods this last thaknsgiving the middle fork has changed again.
All of the rapids have cleaned up with the exception of Hawaii five O. Scouting would be a good idea here.
S-bends no longer has the annoying pourover rock and has a nice snake like tongue through it. The log at super boof has shifted and is further downstream making it less of a consequence. Unfourtunately the 8 foot by 8 foot root ball is only hanging on by a small tree on the cliff wall. I am sure one group of paddelers will find it in the center stream someday.

Gage Descriptions

The upper half is best at the higher range of flows and even above 600 cfs. The lower canyon section is typically run at the lower end of the range of flows. The run is done at higher and lower flows all the time, but these flows are best for a first time down.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




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Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1215658 08/02/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1192905 12/08/03 Keith A. Robinson n/a