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Nooksack, N. Fork    3 - Douglas Fir Campground to Mt. Baker™ ©
Class III
Play Rating (1-10): 5
River Mapplet
Put In Longitude : -121.91186 Putin
Put In Latitude : 48.902142
Take Out Longitude : -121.94276 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 48.893839
County : Whatcom Shuttle
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from NF NOOKSACK RIVER BL CASCADE at 7/15/2020 3:18:38 PM)
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
NF NOOKSACK RIVER BL CASCADE n/a 4.83  881 cfs  USGS - NWIS 07-15-2020 14:15:00
Minimum Recomended Level:  600 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  2500 cfs 


The access is directly underneath the bridge at douglas fir campground. There is a public trail that runs the majority of the river except for the crux canyon section.

  Putin Details

From Bellingham go east on Highway 542 like your going to Mount Baker ski area.

Just past the small town of glacier a bridge crosses the Nooksack. There is parking on the right. Douglas fir campground is on the left.

The put-in is under the bridge or walk 1 min up river to find a nice put-in spot above a class 3 rapid.

  Takeout Details

The upper takeout is on a trail that is a 10 minute walk to Glacier. If you take out at Glacier the run is 2 miles long. It might be difficult for 1st timers to find this trail. The trail comes after the river starts to braid and it is on a rockbar on river left. Here is the lead in rapids to the take out:
You pass landslide rapid (rapid that the right side is erodding away), then the river is flat and bends right, and then Glacier creek enters. (This is the only creek that will enter the nooksack so keep and eye out for this one) This is a good landmark to start looking for the take out. AFter glacier creek, the river typically braids, but this changes every year. There is one more small rapid (wave train usually)and take out is on the left. There are rock beds from the braiding of the river. Catch the trail that heads into the woods. 10 minute walk with your boat.

Residents and store owners sometimes look negatively upon the kayakers who park in front of their stores and homes. I like to park at the vacant condemned house across the street from Grahams bar.

Alternatively you can take out at the Bridge down river from Glacier. The bridge is an easy landmark to find. I am not sure about the public access but I think this is where the rafting company takes out. To reach the bridge access turn right (if heading east) a couple hundred yards before you reach the bridge. There is room to park here and a road (sometimes gated) leads down to the river. In summer 2011 there was construction on this road. Please report if you note any changes to this access spot.

 River Alerts   ( Add Alert ) Pinned Forum Threads
 Log stuck in front of nozzle entrance. Avoidable at low water (530cfs) but it''s in a bad place, right where you might ride up the large pillow there at higher flows. There is space between the log and the rock and also below the log. - Posted by: up4air on 4/25/2015 9:35:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

There are no forum threads pinned to this run.

  Other Issues

Be considerate when parking. We have had a lot of complaints from the stores owners and from residents who don't want boaters taking up their precious parking spots.

From American WW:
The Nooksack River is an important river for Chinook salmon which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. These fish are particularly vulnerable when spawning (August thru September). American Whitewater has developed the following guidelines with the US Forest Service for recreational activities on the North Fork Nooksack for the protection of these fish:

1) Avoid recreational activities that include contact access on the water (e.g. paddling, fishing, wading) from the second Monday in August to October 15th. During this period of low water, which occurs during the Chinook spawning period, fish are particularly vulnerable to disturbance from boats that pass overhead or individuals wading in the river. An exception is allowed at higher flows above 1000 cfs (as measured by the USGS gauge).

2) Following the completion of spawning in mid October, eggs in gravel are vulnerable through the end of March. Do not get out of your boat or wade in the river in areas where the substrate is smaller than the size of a grapefruit as you could crush eggs by walking in areas with gravel.

By following these voluntary guidelines we can protect fish and provide recreational opportunities. By demonstrating cooperation with these guidelines we can avoid mandatory river closures and retain this more flexible alternative.

  Fun Facts

Fantastic class 3 canyon with an awesome play spot at certain flows. Boulder gardens. Really long season due to glacier melt. When other rivers are dry in late summer, the nooksack can be still going strong.

   Run Description [Season: Year Round!]

This isn't the best river to take newbies on because the crux canyon section can frequently have wood in it and also there isn't a trail next to the river in the canyon.

Note: The rapid that marks the entrance to the gorge has changed significantly due to flood levels reached in late 2014. The rapid is almost unrecognizable. The flow is split around a boulder at the start of the drop in river center. Both sides go, but if your not comfortable with your ability to catch an eddy or control your boat, it may be worth a scout. That being said, it is still class 3.

If someone does swim, get out river left if possible. River right is very steep and there have been (overnight) epics of people getting lost in those woods on the river right.
That being said, the best entry level flows are probably from 1000 cfs to 1400 cfs.

600-800cfs- the canyon still has plenty of water and is still fun and technical, but the rest of the river can get really boney, expect to scrape in a lot of places. Landslide rapid can be really boney.

800-1200cfs- The run starts to fill in better. Playwave starts to get good.

1200-1800- The best level for the playwave. spins are possible, good eddy access. This is a favorite flow amongst the locals.

1800-2500- Bitching fast and fun. the playwave and eddy access starts to get washed out, but a lot of on the fly waves!!

3000+ the river probably bumps up to a class 3+ or 4 at this point. The water is constricted in the canyon so there are huge wave trains, some drops wash out but other big boulders are now huge holes. The run gets really fast (15minutes) some vetrans like to run it this high.

People have kayaked and rafted up to 10,000 cfs rumor has it. I have been up to 3,500 and that was fast and intense.


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Beta Trail    
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WiattV's 11/15/2018 Run SubmissionWiattV11/15/2018 7:39:00 AM
mikefromTX's 1/28/2015 Run SubmissionmikefromTX1/28/2015 7:26:00 AM
JoesKayak's 5/18/2012 Run SubmissionJoesKayak5/18/2012 3:18:00 PM
JoesKayak's 5/18/2012 Run SubmissionJoesKayak5/18/2012 3:03:00 PM
dberger007's 7/2/2011 Run Submissiondberger0077/2/2011 7:04:00 PM
not-very-clever's 4/20/2011 Run Submissionnot-very-clever4/20/2011 10:01:00 PM
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jondufay's 12/19/2007 Run Submissionjondufay12/19/2007 11:22:00 AM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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