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Pilchuck Creek    2 - Pilchuck Creek Campsite to Highway 9 Bridge (Middle)™ ©
Class III-IV(V)

River Mapplet
Put In Longitude : -122.14227 Putin
Put In Latitude : 48.320343
Take Out Longitude : -122.16479 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 48.2654228
County : Snohomish Shuttle
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from Pilchuck Cr. @ Bridge 626 at 1/31/2017 9:18:18 AM)
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
Pilchuck Cr. @ Bridge 626 n/a  189 cfs  Washington State DOE /2017 07:45
Minimum Recomended Level:  600 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  2000 cfs 

  Putin Details

UPDATE: 12/27/2018 - This access spot was closed to all traffic including walk-in in 2014. However current signage at this location indicates walk-in traffic is again permitted. Please update with any new information you may find.

You can hike in on gated road (.9mi) to run just the Middle, but you can also opt to combine the Upper and Middle.

To get to the gated road go north from the takeout and turn onto Finn Settlement road & go 4.5 miles. The road makes a sweeping left turn and the turnoff is on the outside of this bend. You'll see the gate a short ways down this road. You can scout the falls from an overlook on the walk in, so this access point should be remembered for scouting purposes.

  Takeout Details

OLD Hwy 9 Bridge, north of Arlington. Just before Highway 9 crosses the creek, turn off onto the old Hwy 9 road, which loops to the old bridge. There is a small parking spot on the R. Right side. Parking can be tricky though during times of heavy snow. There's a wider place to park on the R. Left side, down the road a ways- just don't block the gate.

A hundred yards or less upstream of the HWY 9 bridge on R. Right there is a stick gauge. This is probably the best way to gauge flow, in conjunction with the rock upstream of the bridge.

 River Alerts   ( Add Alert ) Pinned Forum Threads
 It was high when we ran it 1/21/12, so any wood below here we may have passed right over. There was one much further down that should be easy to see. Keep your eyes peeled. - Posted by: jP on 1/22/2012 11:58:00 AM -  [Remove Alert]

 There''s riverwide wood about 1/3 into the run after the first long open flat section. Not too bad to deal with. Another log is about 2/3 thru the run, but at low water you just go under it. Also there is wood in pil-box canyon. Keep left to miss. - Posted by: JoesKayak on 4/22/2012 6:48:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

 As of 4/21/2013 there was wood in 3 places to deal with. First is at the big rapid about 2 miles into the run. There''s a tree leaning out over the river on both sides forcing you to run either center (through the big hole) or left. The next wood is about 1/2 mile past that at an open part of the river. Big rock right and logs riverwide. At medium water we just paddled over it, at low water it was a relatively easy portage. Might be trickier at high water. The last wood is near the end of the run, it''s riverwide, but high enough at 1,100 to paddle under without ducking. High water might run out of room to duck. - Posted by: JoesKayak on 4/22/2013 7:35:00 AM -  [Remove Alert]

 The putin for the middle section has been effectively closed to the public. This happened after two accidents at the falls this summer involving two deaths and several serious injuries. The people who own the property around the falls either also own the road to the campground, or it has been closed with the road owners blessing so it appears there is no longer legal access to the falls scout or the putin. The property has been posted no trespassing, and the police have been asked to enforce it. Until this gets settled boaters should either run the upper with the middle run or find legal access elsewhere. I am still trying to research the issue to find the full extent of the closure. - Posted by: Wiggins on 10/20/2014 4:00:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

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Features on this run

Feature Name Class
Pilchuck Falls V-
Pil Box Canyon III-III+
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  Other Issues

Flows: You can scrape down as low as 500 cfs or so, but it's much more enjoyable with at least 800. Flows around 900-1200 are great for first run.At low water you may want to portage the falls to avoid removing too much plastic from your hull. The run can be done higher than 2000 but can be quite pushy and becomes more class 4 than 3.


  Fun Facts

Often this run is combined with the upper section to make a nice 10 mile trip with Lots of quality whitewater. For this reason you'll find more detailed beta on various water levels in the Upper Pilchuck description. Aside from Pilchuck Falls, the Upper is notably more difficult, and decriptions for water levels refer to it. There's a rock upstream of the HWY 9 bridge used as a visual guage, and a stick guage about 100 yards upstream of the bridge on R. Right. See the Upper Pilchuck description for more details.

   Run Description

This is the "middle" section. It is mostly class III, aside from Pilchuck Falls(V) 1/2 mile below Pilchuck Creek Campground.

The Bridge at the C.G. is the put-in for this section, or, if you paddle down from the upper section, this bridge serves as your landmark to keep your eyes peeled for Pilchuck Falls. After the bridge there is some easy floating followed by a some rapids and an S-Bend. At the S-Bend the creek enters a gorge and starts the approach to the falls. There are a couple of class 3 rapids in this gorge. They aren't too difficult, but still its important to stay in control here as you approach the falls. This falls deserves to be treated like a class V crux. You DO NOT want to risk being on the left half of the river above it. Especially at higher flows. Stay close to the R. Right bank and watch out for the weaker members of your group. Follow the current as it sweeps wide along the R. Right bank, and eddy out on R. Right to scout. If you hike up the steep bank just downstream of the falls you get the best overview of the most likely line you'll want.

You'll see the falls stretching diagonally across the river, broken roughly into thirds. The R.Left most third of the falls is monstrous. The Center third may have a few lines, but look and decide for yourself. The R. Right third has the conventional line. You'll see the obvious green tounge swooshing down. Just line up at the top and boof. Eddy out immediately below on the far R. Left so you can set safety for those who follow.

Additional note on the falls: at low water the falls can be portaged fairly easy just by climbing down the face of the falls and seal launching from one of the lower shelves. However as flows increase more and more of the potential portage spots become filled in. It may be possible to portage up the steep hillside on river right, but it would be an ordeal probably requiring some rope work. Therefore, those intending to portage the falls are advised to stick to the lower end of flows (under 1000 cfs / 3.8 ft on stick).

Below the falls the run remains active and fun and very scenic. The creek alternates between deep canyon sections and more wide open sections. There are several focused, powerful class III rapids, a couple of them pushing class 4 at medium to high levels. Always keep a lookout for wood on this run, particularly further down in a narrow canyon called "The Pil Box". Wood can chock up in here and be a real hazard. When it walls up it is best to space out a bit and be ready to grab an eddy quick.

The rest of the run is a casual class II float to the HWY 9 bridge. Don't forget to read the stick gauge on your right. Take out on the downstream right side of the bridge.


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Beta Trail    
SubmissionBeta Submitted BySubmitted On
JoesKayak's 12/28/2018 Run SubmissionJoesKayak12/28/2018 9:19:00 AM
JoesKayak's 12/28/2018 Run SubmissionJoesKayak12/28/2018 9:17:00 AM
JoesKayak's 3/15/2017 Run SubmissionJoesKayak3/15/2017 9:04:00 AM
JoesKayak's 10/24/2014 Run SubmissionJoesKayak10/24/2014 12:36:00 PM
JoesKayak's 4/23/2013 Run SubmissionJoesKayak4/23/2013 10:33:00 AM
JoesKayak's 5/23/2012 Run SubmissionJoesKayak5/23/2012 3:58:00 PM
JoesKayak's 5/23/2012 Run SubmissionJoesKayak5/23/2012 3:56:00 PM
JoesKayak's 5/23/2012 Run SubmissionJoesKayak5/23/2012 3:39:00 PM
jP's 2/23/2012 Run SubmissionjP2/23/2012 12:29:00 AM
jP's 1/22/2012 Run SubmissionjP1/22/2012 1:00:00 PM

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