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Puyallup    1 - Niesson Creek to Electron (Puyallup Gorge)™ ©
Class V-V+
Avg Gradient 120 fpm

River Mapplet
Put In Longitude : -122.05345 Putin
Put In Latitude : 46.9187126
Take Out Longitude : -122.17581 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 46.9935722
County : Pierce Shuttle
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from PUYALLUP RIVER NEAR ELECTRON, at 7/15/2020 3:18:31 PM)
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
PUYALLUP RIVER NEAR ELECTRON, n/a 4.67  538 cfs  USGS - NWIS 07-15-2020 14:15:00
Minimum Recomended Level:  600 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  900 cfs 


Ok I just got off the phone with the Access Coordinator at the Campbell Group which is the company that owns this land for logging. They have discontinued the daily usage permits and all permits now are sold per year per family.

Each permit only allows direct family members access to the land. Below is an address where we can send letters regarding our usage and requests. The young lady that answered the phone (shannon) was very nice, and explained that they closed the land off because people kept trashing the roads and parking areas. After multiple methlabs you have to start controlling the access.

Anyways thats the dealyO

Campbell Group
31716 Camp 1 Road
Orting WA 98360

I encourage people to write because Shannon seemed to be very knowledgeable about the access and reasons for closure which could indicate that she has some level of control or influence over this decsion. She told me that it would be a good idea to write a nice letter describing our request.

  Putin Details

Directions to Putin Via Mowich River, from Takeout
Drive North on Orville Rd. Take a right on 162 (E), right on 165 (S). Putin is down the 2nd to last road on the right before you get to a “Mount Rainier” sign. Hike down the right fork and then follow the switchbacks until the road is gone. Follow the lightly used trail down to an old road. Stay on the road until it hits a floatable section of the river.

  Takeout Details

Head south on Orville road from Highway 162. After 6.7 miles there is a turnout on the left, with large boulders blocking a road that goes through the forest to the river. It is a little more than a half-mile north of Electron road. At Electron road there is another road leading to a bridge directly upstream of the takeout. If you crossed this bridge and headed upriver, it would lead you to an easy put-in above the gorge. Absolutely no trespassing allowed here.

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  Fun Facts

Special hazards: The fourth or fifth rapid ends in a narrow hole with a difficult-to-escape eddy on the right. Sections of gorge are unclimbable.

Gauge: Puyallup near Electron. Subtract 400 CFS because of the diversion directly downstream of gauge. The Puyallup near Orting is not far downstream of the gorge and is useful for the flow predicion.

   Run Description [Season: Fall, Winter, Spring]

V   (200-350 in gorge)
V+ (350-600 in gorge)
Optimum   400
Portages: None in gorge

Descending the west flank of Mount Rainier, after meandering for miles, the Puyallup River flows through a narrow and dramatic canyon. After reading comparisons to the incomparable Carbon Gorge, I had to go see it. You shouldn’t have to decide on such things, but I think the Carbon is more awesome. But not by much. Both have a unique combination of rapids and geology that make them truly special. The whitewater on the Puyallup is good, with ten or more challenging rapids in an extremely committing setting. What prevents this run from being a Seattle-area ultra-classic is one issue: access. The timber company that owns the area has completely restricted a large swath of the upper Puyallup watershed. If you want to drive in via the road right along the river, you must purchase a $360/year pass. If you are caught on the property hiking or sitting in the car of someone with a pass, you could be given a $500 fine. Word has it the area is regularly patrolled.

Fortunately, there are ways to paddle this stretch. With an early start it can reasonably done in a day via the Mowich River, accessed near the west entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Beginning the hike at 9 got us to the takeout at 3. In 2006 another group put onto the larger South Fork Puyallup using West Side Road; that involves a long hike and paddle in. Getting down to the Mowich is not bad, but the first part of the river is awful. The wide glacial valley accumulates logs and disperses the river. With the gauge reading 850 at Electron, it took a couple hours to get to the lower section of the Mowich, which thankfully is relatively unobstructed class III. Hiking into the lower portion of the Mowich from 165 would be extremely difficult due to the towering cliffs on river right. Almost immediately after the Mowich meets the Puyallup you come to the diversion dam, final destination of the “World’s Crookedest Railway”. You can visually check that the diversion is occurring, although try to find this out ahead of time (Puget Sound Energy, Electron Powerhouse), because an extra 400 CFS in the gorge could spell disaster.

The rapids, with one exception, are manageable. After five or so big rapids there is a river-wide hole at a point where the canyon narrows to ten feet. It lurks right behind a right bend that has a gravel bar on river-left at the top of the entry rapid. Maybe you could scout the hole if you climbed up the wall a bit, where there’s some evidence of a past landslide. I got stuck after running the hole on the right and landing in the river-right eddy. It took a few tries to paddle out. Not as bad as Rick’s Slide on the Carbon, but similar enough to be a little eerie. This hole should be run center going straight across the boil. I consider this the crux of the run, and it would likely get even more dangerous with higher water.

Video of hole:


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Beta Trail    
SubmissionBeta Submitted BySubmitted On
fiddleyak's 2/3/2011 Run Submissionfiddleyak2/3/2011 8:56:00 PM
fiddleyak's 1/31/2011 Run Submissionfiddleyak1/31/2011 10:58:00 AM
fiddleyak's 1/30/2011 Run Submissionfiddleyak1/30/2011 11:48:00 PM
fiddleyak's 1/30/2011 Run Submissionfiddleyak1/30/2011 11:47:00 PM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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