Icicle Creek, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||91 fpm|
|ICICLE CREEK ABOVE SNOW CREEK NEAR LEAVENWORTH, WA|
|usgs-12458000||700 - 2000 cfs||IV+||5d12h45m||360 cfs (too low)|
LOGISTICS: From Highway 2 mile 99.1 (the west end of Leavenworth) turn on to Icicle Creek Road. Follow the road up 2.1 miles and take the turn-off for Hatchery Road. Follow Hatchery Road 0.2 miles to its end and park at the fish hatchery. To reach the put-in, head back out to Icicle Creek Road and continue up the canyon. You will pass an alternate take-out at mile 3.3 at a pull-out below the diversion dam (used by those who want to run laps through the best rapids). The put-in is at mile 4.1 on Icicle Creek Road at the Snow Creek trailhead (you'll need a Northwest Forest Pass to park here, otherwise find a spot along the road).
DESCRIPTION: The Lower Icicle Creek is a great short run that can be paddled as a warm up for those thinking about running the Middle Icicle Creek section or as a supplement to a day on the Wenatchee. You're always close to the road on this run so in a real emergency exiting the river on the left is possible, but most of the land is private so use discretion if you need this option.
The run starts at the Snow Creek trailhead. Looking upstream the river crashes through an impressive jumble of very large boulders. It's good fun to pick your imaginary lines through the maelstrom, and then scramble down the rocks to a put in as close to the base as you want (don't take the trail and put-in at the trail bridge or you will miss the first rapid).
The river kicks off right away with a great rapid that ends just under the trail bridge (you can scout it out beforehand by walking down the first hundred yards of the trail from the parking lot). If you enjoy this first rapid be prepared for plenty more, but if you're already feeling a little shakey it's an easy exit back to the parking lot.
As you continue past the bridge, head left to scout the next challenging sequence. You'll see a horizon line indicating it's time to scout. The sequence of ledges and boulders can form a couple of good-sized holes so pick your line and hang on or make the quick portage around.
After this drop the river continues for another mile and a half of constant class IV+ action. Most of it can be boat scouted although there may be a couple spots where you want to have someone take a peak for wood or check out the hole that sits at the bottom of many of the chutes and ledges.
One potential hazard to be aware of is the first of the dams on this run. It comes about 2/3 of the way through the run and is a couple feet high. It can be portaged on the right. Alternatively you can run it, but check out the hydraulic at the base and pick your line carefully. A rock near center right breaks up the backwash and a boof right up against this rock makes a nice line. Some take-out just below the dam (a pull out along the highway at mile 3.3 provides good access) which is a nice option if you just want to run laps on the best mile of this run.
The river continues with a couple more fun rapids before slowly tapering off as you reach the fish hatchery dam (you can scout it out beforehand by walking down the first hundred yards of the trail from the parking lot). The dam backs up the river into a long pool about 1/4 mile in length. Paddle past the intake structure on your right and continue down the pool to the dam. Use caution as you approach the takeout above this second dam. This dam is considerably larger (about a 30' drop) than the first with a potentially nasty hydaulic at the base. Give yourself plenty of space to get out safely (either right or left).
Wenatchee River Festival 2008
June 12, 2008