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Big Quilcene    2 - Rainbow Campground to fish hatchery (Lower)™ ©
Class IV-V
3.2Miles
Avg Gradient 140 fpm

River Mapplet
GPS/GIS Maps
Put In Longitude : -122.92041 Putin
Put In Latitude : 47.7733612
Take Out Longitude : -122.91365 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 47.8078957
County : Jefferson Shuttle

There is currently no Gauge Data on this stretch. Please Email us if you have details about a realtime gauge for this river.
Minimum Recomended Level:  300      Maximum Recomended Level:  700  

  Access

The Put-in requires a shortish hike down to the rivers edge, and the take out is up stream of the fish hatchery a little ways down stream from the first wier. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wrx/wrx/flows/station.asp?sta=17A060#block2


  Putin Details

From Take-out:
Drive 2.7 miles SOUTH on US-101
Park at RAINBOW CAMPGROUND and look for the trail that heads down to the river from the East side of the camp ground loop.

From here the trail heads NE and parallels Elbo Creek.


  Takeout Details

From the Town of Quilcene:
Drive 2.0 miles SOUTH on US-101
There will be a pullout with a fence that says no tresspassing, take-out just
   upstream of this fence line. When your on the river you'll see the road   
   and some man made rock jetty's that create these nice eddies. Down stream
   further is the fish hatchery "electrified wier". I don't know how
   dangerous it is but better just takeout up stream instead of at the bridge.



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 After you have ran all the big stuff there are several bits of wood in the flat stuff near the take out. - Posted by: Jed Hawkes on 1/17/2011 9:30:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

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Features on this run

Feature Name Class
piton death/barney rubble IV-V
I can't wait to get stoned IV-V
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  Other Issues

There is a municipal water diversion at Tunnel creek that draws an average of 23-26 CFS out of the riverbed, but occasionally as high as 30 CFS. The DOE gauge mentioned below is below this diversion so the average diversion amount should be considered when thinking about running this stretch.

This information was provided to me by Ian who works for the city of Port Townsend.

There is a real time DOE gauge for this river here -



DOE real-time gauge




There are two Man made weirs associated with the fish hatchery, the first is runnable left of center, the second is electrified and should not be run, see take out information.


  Fun Facts

There are multiple opportunities for camping near here, during the summer Rainbow Campground, and the Falls overlook campground are open. The falls overlook has a bathroom with running water, not sure about rainbow. Near here there is also the Dungeness, Duckabush, and Dosewallips, all III-IV sections of whitwater.


   Run Description [Season: rainy/snowmelt]

@ 800 CFS and falling. High runnable level, pushy but padded feels very class V, only a few viable eddies. All good eddies are above the significant horizon lines. If your looking for the class IV+ experience I'd run this below 600.

From the put-in the run starts out as about a mile of class III waves and holes, with some eddies on the banks but nothing midstream, at 800 cfs and falling use this time to get warmed up, because after the first rapid the river doesn't let up for a bit.

There are two horizon lines on the run, the first is located at the beginning of the gorge, the second is about 200 yards downstream.

The first scout is marked by a LEFT bend in the river, and the closing in of the walls. Scout from RIVER RIGHT. The first ledge is marginal at best. The left slot is a unrunnable ugly thing, a ledge that pours into a slab of rock and all the water slams left into an undercut. The right line is just as marginal. A tongue leads down the right wall and then the current is split by a rock, a fair amount is moving left and down stream, but there is also a fair amount moving right into a cave filled with wood. It would be extremely difficult to set safety for the cave, additionally there was a subsurface log in the line that at the high level we saw likely wouldn't be an issue, but I wasn't comfortable with the combination of cave/wood/highwater/no eddies downstream to gain access back upstream if someone did end in the cave. With that being said, a group of people who run Class V regularly would likely not think twice about running it. The line is there, but so are the consequinces.

Portage on RIVER RIGHT, send one person up the bluff and haul boats. Once up high move down stream less than 100 yards, there are two options for getting back in the river, the first is a one boat seal launch above a significant set of drops that are continuous until the next horizon line, it's all Read and Run class IV+, but don't get hurt because it will take awhile for your buddy to get in their boat. The second is a eddy further downstream, but you miss one of the better moves on the run, but there is enough space for every one to get in their boats.

The next big Horizon Line is just down stream, eddy out on RIVER RIGHT. At 800 cfs the line was down the left the whole way, fighting through some reactionary waves, into a seam, and then fighting a huge reactionary off of the right wall. ALL three members got flipped by the reactionary. I hit my head and shoulder good on rock just down stream. We're calling this one "I can't wait to get stoned"

Below this drop is a good pool to recover and scout the next bend.

From this pool to the take out there are no more scouts, but some serious IV-IV+ whitewater with only marginal eddies. Once you see a big waterfall on the left your past all the biggest rapids, from here down be concerned about wood in the flatter sections of the river.

After you see houses on RIVER right you'll eventually come to the first of two hatchery wiers, the first is runnable left of center. The second wier should not be run, take out upstream where the road is only a few feet from the river.

Now that you have the lines dialed drive back up for another lap



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Trip Report TitleDate
Glad I wore my Big Boy Pa...1/17/2011


Beta Trail    
SubmissionBeta Submitted BySubmitted On
Jed Hawkes's 11/16/2015 Run SubmissionJed Hawkes11/16/2015 8:36:00 AM
water wacko's 12/1/2012 Run Submissionwater wacko12/1/2012 7:37:00 AM
Jed Hawkes's 2/1/2011 Run SubmissionJed Hawkes2/1/2011 11:52:00 PM
Jed Hawkes's 1/20/2011 Run SubmissionJed Hawkes1/20/2011 9:58:00 PM
Jed Hawkes's 10/28/2010 Run SubmissionJed Hawkes10/28/2010 5:26:00 PM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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