Silver Creek, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|virtual-6269||130 - 200 cfs||IV-V||00h52m||15.86 cfs (too low)|
SEASON: Falls rains and spring snow melt. Put in can be snowed in during the coldest months but you can always drag your boat.
FUN FACT: Plenty of action packed into a short run
LOGISTICS: From Highway 2 mile 35.6 turn north up the North Fork Road (becomes FR 63) at the Mt. Index Cafe. Continue up the road to mile 9.1 and turn west onto FR 6330. This road immediately crosses the North Fork Skykomish and the bridge serves as one potential take-out for this run. The access on downstream river right is best. To reach the put-in, continue up the road a couple hundred yards and take your first right. This road parrallels Silver Creek and comes to an end near mile 1.5. A high clearance vehicle is mandatory for this shuttle. Start hiking once you reach the end of the road. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the put-in. You'll cross an old landslide but there is a decent trail that gives you some good looks at the creek, and then once you pass the landslide you'll be back on the old roadbed. Continue on across a small stream (a temporary footbridge has been constructed here) and then a second slightly larger stream with an old wooden bridge. The Triple Drop sequence is between these two bridges. Continue another few hundred yards up to the waterfall (best seen by climbing down to the river). Find a put-in to run the waterfall or put-in someplace between it and the wooden bridge. Make sure you bring your rope for this put-in. If you have short winter days a run from here down to the bridge across the North Fork will make for a full day. During the spring, you might continue on the North Fork down to Trout Creek.
Although this is a short run by distance it can be a full-day adventure especially during the winter when you have short days. Scouting always takes a long time especially if few in your group have done the run before.
You can start the run with a fun 18' waterfall. The trick here is getting down to a put- in. The creek continues through a narrow bedrock gorge and then plunges through a rapid that can be a little grungy at low water and has a meaty hole at high water. Those who don't run the waterfall often just put-in below this drop which is a short distance upstream from the tributary stream crossed by the old wooden bridge. There is one good rapid before you arrive at the lip of the Triple Drop sequence, aka Huey, Duey, and Lewey (video). These drops are a ton of fun and as long as there is no wood you can run them pretty much down the center, grabbing eddies on your way. The first one can develop a hole at higher water (boof left) but otherwise the drops are clean and there is a big recovery pool at the bottom.
Fun rapids continue down to the section that parrallels the landslide. Along the landslide, two drops stand out as more challenging than the rest. You can scout them on the hike in but just remember they are bigger than they look from above. Both are generally run along the left side. If things are going well you can continue on downstream but this is also an easy place to exit the river if you've had your fill or flows are at the lower limit. Drops in the lower section develop some pin potential at lower flows, and at any flow there are several drops with class V hazards.
The action continues as you proceed downstream with lots of technical rapids (video of characteristic rapid). This section always has some big wood so use caution and expect to make a couple of portages. There are some more fun ledge drops and chutes between boulders before you reach the next significant drop on the run. You'll recognize it by the large house-sized boulder perched up on the bank on river right. The portage route is along the right or you can run it down the left hand side. It's a tricky line--first a hole up against a boulder on the left, then a couple ledges with some power at their base, and finally a class IV run out--so scout it out carefully and expect to take a few minutes.
After you pass this drop you've come through the hardest drops on the run, but don't let you guard down as there are still a several good ledges and a few meaty holes, especially at higher flows. There are also at least a couple more places that you'll want to scout, and make sure you keep your eyes open for wood hazards. When you finally start to leave the big boulders behind you'll get to a section with a few hundred yards of great open continuous class IV. As cabins come into view you know you're nearing the confluence with the North Fork. You have one final fun little drop as you plunge onto the North Fork and then you'll find yourself right at the top of El Nino. Just below El Nino, you'll be at the FR 6330 Bridge. Take-out on river right or continue your run down the North Fork Sky.
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