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Difficulty II(V+)
Length 4.1 Miles
Gauge SF Skykomish nr Skykomish
Flow Range 1000 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 460.1 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/30/2018 6:15 pm

River Description


This section is typically not a standard whitewater run but locals do recreate on the flatwater sections and the falls have been run a few times. The run is primarily flatwater with the exception of three major waterfalls: Eagle Falls, Canyon Falls, and Sunset Falls. For many years the falls were considered unrunnable but Eagle Falls and Sunset Falls are occassionally run. There have been several fatalities along this stretch of river particularly during summer with swimmers or tubers who didn't realize the danger of the falls.

Eagle Falls has been the site of an impressive high water run by Tao in Twitch, an occurrence that is becoming more common these days among paddlers with the skills to run this drop. This has also been the site of a kayaker fatality. If you're on the beginner run upstream of this falls be sure you know exactly where the take-out is. This waterfall is located right along Highway 2 near milepost 40 and many travelers stop and take a look at the falls. Check out the Eagle Falls page on Bryan Swan's waterfall site.

Canyon Falls is located along private property making it difficult to access. There have been fatalities here when tubers floated up to the edge of the falls without realizing the hazard. Check out the Canyon Falls page on Bryan Swan's waterfall site.

This section ends at Sunset Falls where the Skykomish drops 104 vertical feet over a 275' granite slide. See Liquid Locomotive for Whit Deschner's story of Al Faussett's ride over Sunset Falls in 1926 in a 34 foot canoe with sheet metal spray deck. Take a look at this thing in low water sometime (around 400 cfs). As SteveB described it, "this Falls must have the highest concentration of unrunnable features: sieves, terminal toilet bowl holes, offseting huge undercuts, bottomless caves, & more pinning spots that a half finished hand-made suit." In recent years, a handful of highly skilled paddlers have been running the falls at higher flows (see Rob McKibbin video) but injuries and broken gear are not uncommon. Check out the Sunset Falls page on Bryan Swan's waterfall site.

Rapid Descriptions

Eagle Falls

Class - 5.3 Mile - 1.1

Canyon Falls

Class - VI Mile - 3.3

Sunset Falls

Class - VI Mile - 4.1

Comments

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Michael B. Smith
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4 years ago

Eagle falls is run somewhat regular by the local big ballers. Sunset Falls has also been run by Sam Grafton. Eagle falls is class 5+ and Sunset is a solid 6.

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10 years ago

Sunset Falls was successfully run by kayaker Rob McKibbin in 2008.

Gage Descriptions

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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.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2017-05-21 n/a Injury Other Read More
1988-01-01 Medium Fatality Other Read More

Alerts

News

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AW Comments on Proposed Sunset Falls Hydro Project (WA)

7/19/2013
Megan Hooker

Today, numerous partners joined American Whitewater in filing comments in opposition to Snohomish PUD No. 1's proposed hydroelectric project on the South Fork Skykomish river at Sunset Falls in Washington. Our comments highlight the significant impacts the project would have to fish and wildlife habitat, water quality and quantity, recreation and scenic values, and call out the questionable economics of the project.

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Dam Proposed For South Fork Skykomish Would Be An Economic Loser

7/16/2013
Thomas O'Keefe

A new economic study of the controversial Sunset Falls Dam on Washington’s South Fork of the Skykomish River, reveals the power generated at the proposed site would cost 2.3 times more than the Snohomish County Public Utility District (SnoPUD) estimates.

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Action Alert: Comment on Hydropower Proposal for Sunset Falls (WA)

6/5/2013
Thomas O'Keefe

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has scheduled a set of public meetings and a site visit on June 12th and 13th that are open to the public for those who wish to comment on the proposed hydropower development at Sunset Falls. Written comments on the proposal are being accepted through July 19th.

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2012 Most Endangered Rivers Report Released

5/15/2012
Thomas O'Keefe

Today, American Rivers released the annual report on America's Most Endangered Rivers. American Whitewater has partnered with American Rivers in past years in identifying threatened rivers, and this year we are working together to highlight threats to the Skykomish River in Washington and the Green River in Utah.

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American Whitewater Files in Opposition to Sunset Falls Hydro (WA)

12/20/2011
Thomas O'Keefe

Earlier today American Whitewater was joined by Alpine Lakes Protection Society, American Rivers, North Cascades Conservation Council, Sierra Club – Washington State Chapter, The Mountaineers, and Washington Wild in formally opposing the proposed hydropower project on the South Fork of the Skykomish River at Sunset Falls.

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ACTION ALERT: Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Sunset Falls Hydro Project (WA)

10/28/2011
Thomas O'Keefe

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has initiated a 60 day comment period for the proposed Sunset Falls Hydro Project. This is the first step in the process where Snohomish PUD is seeking a preliminary permit to begin a formal study of the site. American Whitewater has several concerns with this project given the community value of this river and its signature waterfall.

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Sky Fund Grows to $20 Grand for River Access in Washington!

11/1/2002
Jason Robertson

573thumb.jpg Werner Paddles, American Whitewater, Washington Kayak Club, and SkyFest organizers have reached our initial goal and raised over $20,000 to secure public river access to the Skykomish River. Thanks to everyone who has played a role in our success!
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Thomas O'Keefe

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Matt Muir

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1208594 12/15/17 Thomas O'Keefe photo updates
1209737 05/30/18 Thomas O'Keefe minor edits
1205222 08/05/15 Thomas O'Keefe access updated
1205912 03/12/16 Thomas O'Keefe minor edits
1205913 03/12/16 Thomas O'Keefe links fixed
1193374 08/10/04 n/a n/a
1201292 05/15/12 Thomas O'Keefe copy edits