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Nisqually    3 - McKenna to Yelm Hydro Plant™ ©
Class II-III

River Mapplet
Put In Longitude : -122.55999 Putin
Put In Latitude : 46.9399986
Take Out Longitude : -122.56999 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 46.9700012
County : Thurston Shuttle
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from NISQUALLY RIVER AT MCKENNA, W at 7/15/2020 3:18:30 PM)
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
NISQUALLY RIVER AT MCKENNA, W NWRFC | FC Page 1.67  848 cfs  USGS - NWIS 07-15-2020 15:00:00
Minimum Recomended Level:  900 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  3000 cfs 

  Putin Details

The put in is in McKenna where the road goes over the river on a bridge, there is a big park there with a boat launch. You cant miss it! The park's barbed wire gates automatically close at 6pm in the winter and 9pm in the summer, so it might be wise to park at the gas station across the street.

  Takeout Details

This run is around 7 miles long and the takeout is located at a power plant, you cant miss the takeout from the river. From the putin, drive through Yelm on Hwy 510 heading West. You will pass Ramtha's School of Enlightenment (AKA JZKnight Inc) on your left and then go through a round about, keeping left. Take a right onto Powerhouse Ln, a small paved road .3 miles after the round about and drive all the way to the end (about 1/2 mile). There is a large parking lot there, but be wary of the tow away times.

 River Alerts   ( Add Alert ) Pinned Forum Threads
 The log at Kahuna has been cut- rapid clear. Old auto wreckage emerging (900ish level) at Little Kahuna at far river left. Nasty looking. - Posted by: mokelumnekid on 8/9/2010 9:12:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

There are no forum threads pinned to this run.

  Fun Facts

There is a nice meat market on the other side of the river at the putin with yummy stuff called Stewart's Meats.

   Run Description

The run starts out with about a mile of flat water with an easy class II+ rapid towards the end of the flats. This little rapid has a few features at the bottom that are fun and good to learn surfing and boat control on.
After that the run picks up a bit with some easy rapids here and there until you reach the Trailer park. There are several waves and small holes in the area to have fun in.

After the trailer park you will soon reach the real meat of the river. We call the two big rapids Kahuna and little Kahuna. They are really the only two class III rapids on the river. The Kahuna being the long class III that everyone remembers.

This river has just about something for everyone, depending on the levels, and is a great river to practice, learn or just workout on. You will find little playspots just about everywhere, even up to the last rapid. Depending on the level, some of the playspot may be big or even blown-out at times.

Just remember to not underestimate this river, I have seen more carnage on the Nisqually than any river I have ever boated. If you get into trouble just remember to hike out on the south side of the river (river left), if you go North (river right) you will walk into Ft Lewis and may be walking for a long time, since this is the far south end of the base.

This run can get real fun at very high levels, 4,000 - 6,000cfs it will have some beefy play holes and big surfing waves. It really never gets any harder than class III even at high water. There is a gauge at the put in and we used to measure the fun factor via the gauge. 3.2ft-4.2ft was always the best play level.


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Trip NameTrip Date
Trip Report TitleDate
1st PP group paddle3/25/2012

Beta Trail    
SubmissionBeta Submitted BySubmitted On
jzgold's 2/6/2011 Run Submissionjzgold2/6/2011 2:10:00 AM
dave's 1/12/2010 Run Submissiondave1/12/2010 6:08:00 PM
dave's 1/12/2010 Run Submissiondave1/12/2010 6:05:00 PM
Kiwi's 11/15/2008 Run SubmissionKiwi11/15/2008 2:07:00 PM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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