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Elwha    3. HWY 112 to river mouth (ocean surf)™ ©
Class II
Avg Gradient 17.4 fpm

River Mapplet
Zip Code : 98362 General Area
Put In Longitude : -123.55512 Putin
Put In Latitude : 48.0966148
Take Out Longitude : -123.56497 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 48.1478996
County : Clallam Shuttle
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from ELWHA RIVER AT MCDONALD BR NE at 7/15/2020 3:18:28 PM)
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
ELWHA RIVER AT MCDONALD BR NE NWRFC | FC Page 9.87  854 cfs  USGS - NWIS 07-15-2020 15:00:00
Minimum Recomended Level:  500 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  2000 cfs 


This section used to be called "Aldwell Reservoir to river mouth (ocean surf)", known in Gary Korb's book as The Lower Elwha. The standard access described in "A Paddler's Guide To The Olympic Penninsula" hasn't changed. There is also a second alternative put in downstream at Elwha River road, beneath the high bridge.

  Putin Details

To get to the upper put in for this stretch, from HWY 101 turn onto HWY 112 and go just under 1 mile, turning left onto Lower Dam road just before HWY 112 crosses the Elwha.

Or, you can put in further downstream beneath the Elwha River Road bridge. To reach this access point from 101, turn onto Laird Road, just 1000 feet east of HWY 112. Drive north on Laird for less than a mile and turn left onto Elwha River Road.
**We used the Elwha River Road put in for our trip on 7/28/2013. There is a side road (Crown Z Water Rd- stick that in your Google and smoke it) just upstream of the bridge on River Right that takes you down to the water, with a nice big parking lot to unload right beside the R. Right bank.** ~jP

  Takeout Details

From HWY 112 turn right onto Place Rd, and continue north till the road ends. Turn right onto Elwha Dike Rd. Drive to the end and park as close as you can to the yellow posts marking a trailhead to the beach. If you are directionally challenged maybe take a walk down that trail to orient yourself at the end of your trip. This parking lot is on the river left (west) side of the mouth of the Elwha river.

 River Alerts   ( Add Alert ) Pinned Forum Threads
 Watch for rebar at the old dam site. Looks like the drop is mostly rubble from the old dam. Easy eddy on the right, easier carry on the left. - Posted by: MN Mike on 1/12/2014 9:34:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

There are no forum threads pinned to this run.

Features on this run

Feature Name Class
Scary Log on River Left!
Dead Ent Gauntlet
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  Other Issues

Prior to 2013, no description had been filled out on Professor Paddle for this run. Since both Elwha dams have recently been removed, the river bed is undergoing constant, dramatic change, and will likely continue to for years to come. Expect loads of sediment, braided channels, and wood, wood, and more wood.

   Run Description [Season: ]

This run is special for a few reasons, one being the recent removal of the dams that used to abide upstream, and another being the fabulous journey that can be made all the way to the Strait of Juan De Fuca. While the river is in a state of upheaval with a host of wood hazards, paddling to the mouth and out into the surf is a pretty cool and unique treat for any river runner.

Trip Leaders leading novices should be extra vigilant and cautious with regards to wood. Most notable would be the "Dead Ent Gauntlet" you will encounter within a mile after launching. Wood lines BOTH banks through here for approximately 200 yards or more (At least it did on our july 28 2013 trip. Having said that we only had one mandatory wood portage ~jP). It is a class II run, but it may be better suited to class III skill sets and experienced paddlers. Numerous strainers line the banks making the consequenses potentially very hazardous.

When you see a high cliff wall of packed sediment on River Left, you'll know you are getting close to the salt water. You will see the landscape fall away and the wood hazards dissipate. Some braided channels will spread the water out pretty thin over gravel and mud, but a boatable channel should remain evident.

The Juan de Fuca surf will call to your boat like the Sirens to Odysseus, but don't get all shy of the salt water- you can always rinse your gear off later. Somewhere behind you to the left is a trail leading back to your take out rig.


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Trip NameTrip Date
Trip Report TitleDate

Beta Trail    
SubmissionBeta Submitted BySubmitted On
jP's 7/31/2013 Run SubmissionjP7/31/2013 1:14:00 AM
jP's 7/29/2013 Run SubmissionjP7/29/2013 1:05:00 PM
jP's 7/29/2013 Run SubmissionjP7/29/2013 1:01:00 PM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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