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Skykomish, N. Fork    2. FS RD. 65 to Index™ ©
Class IV
Avg Gradient 72 fpm
Max Gradient 130 fpm
Play Rating (1-10): 7
River Mapplet
County : Snohomish
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from Virtual at )
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
Virtual n/a 0  Virtual cfs  3rd Party Gauge
Minimum Recomended Level:  2500 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  8000 cfs 


Level info. Best done with Spring Snow run off but look for higher levels on rain events. 10k on the Skykomish guage at Gold Bar is generally a good med level for the canyon but feels low on the paddle out. Goes as low as 9k and up to 20k or more? 15k is a phat Medium and some may consider a putting in below Rooster Tail.

Also correlate off the guage for the NF at Galena. 4.6-4.75 good side of low. 4.9-5.0 Is Medium. The canyon will feel pushier than the rest of the run.

  Putin Details

Two options exist: A) Use access at bridge that crosses NF Sky on FS65 about 1.5 miles after leaving Jacks Pass. It adds apx 1mile more of scenic class II passing Garland Mineral Springs (ghost town). Option B) take FS 65 to junction with FS63, turn Left and drive to gate, about 1 mile. As of June 2012 the gate is no longer being closed and locked.

  Takeout Details

Again, several options exist. Trout Creek will be the first available takeout. The town of Index 5 miles downstream would provide a second alternative or continue on to the final few miles to the confluence.

 River Alerts   ( Add Alert ) Pinned Forum Threads
 The last drop in the Canyon, Let''s Make a Deal, still has wood that spans the left and center channels. At high flows above 15k the water goes over the wood. Below 12k look for a clean channel on right side of river. - Posted by: huckin harms on 6/19/2012 7:37:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

There are no forum threads pinned to this run.

Features on this run

Feature Name Class
Drum Beater V+
Let’s Make a Deal IV+
Rooster Tail IV-V
El Nino IV
Minefield III-IV
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  Other Issues

Leaving a car at the put in will lengthen the day by at least an extra hour of driving... so having a shuttle driver is preferred.

  Fun Facts

Get a shuttle ride with the Harms. Beers in town of Index.

   Run Description [Season: Fall and Spring]

From the Bridge put in it's roughly one mile to the river access at the gate. It's a swift but gentle float going past Garland Mineral Springs which is a ghost town now. Take the first left at the first island as wood will block the right side. Another braided channel has wood on the left side, so sneak a shallow right channel. Watch for wood.

By now you have been revelling in the amazing mountain scenery with the snowcapped peaks and cascading waterfalls if its a clear day. After going past the Gated river access point it's roughly 2 miles down to the Bear Creek Gorge/Falls (VI) portage. In those two miles the river gradually begins to pick up the pace. Several easy III's with good waves will be encounter followed by a couple IV's at the turns. It's roughly a half hour after leaving the bridge or 15 minutes from the gate to the start of the portage. The river will go through a couple false turns before reaching a right turn followed by a large eddy on the right. From that eddy you will see a big boulder in the middle of the river followed by an increasingly narrowing in the canyon walls and a what appears to be a boat scoutable class IV. There is BRIGHT GREEN RIBBON wrapped and flying on a tree on the right bank. That should help. FRom there it is a hike up the hill to the road. Down the road a couple hundred yards is a faint pull out that signals a trail leading back down to the river, where one can put in below the falls.

From there it is a short distance down to Drumbeater (V), say roughly 1/2 mile, maybe 5 minutes back on river after a couple turns. Drumbeater is not easy to identify as you approach. It starts as a broad gravel bar rapid gradually steepening and then quickly taking on a defined appearance a mere 50 yrds or so from the top. It's a stout ledge with wood in the exit rapid. The portage is river level and on the right, so be ready to scramble for the right bank when the river steepens noticably. Again, Green Ribbon has been placed in a tree on the bank but this is not where you will likely be looking.

Following the portage around Drumbeater you will be putting back in at the 'old' access point before the roadwashouts of 2006. The start of the North Fork Skykomish Canyon begins. It's a brief series of off set ledges and holes. Totally boat scoutable at all but high flows. Let's Make a Deal (IV) is the final rapid in the canyon and is clogged with big wood. The Far right side has a clean channel that gets you through with out a portage. A fun rapid runs out of the canyon, and then the road appears on river right.

Just around the corner is RoosterTail (V). Rooster Tail can be run on the left or right. The left is narrower with less river but is not a good sneak. An offset ledge (IV+) leads into a large roostertail rock that divides the current. A flip results in a tag to the noggen. The right side of RoosterTail changed during the big 2006 floods and is now a large (10') funky bedrock ledge. There is a good line off the left of center veil on the leftside of the ledge. The runout has an offset ledge hole. Wood is sticking in on river right at the top. This drop deserves a scout and some will portage.

Downstream of Roostertail the river continues it's descent through fun III's and easy IV's. At higher water, above 12k on main Sky the river has a bigwater feel with many fun crashing wave trains. Passing under Galena bridges and going buy Silver Creek soon leads to El Nino, a fun IV with a couple holes to dodge or crash through. River right is a preferred line at higher flows.
By this point the river has widened and the rapids are all of a boulder garden variety. About a mile and half below El Nino is the Minefield (IV) which has a couple larges holes near the top. Left of center is ideal. Check out the cool water seepage into the river as it falls from the high cobblestone embankment. There are one or two braided sections before reaching Trout Creek, about 5 miles below Drumbeater, 10 miles below the FR65 bridge.

If you putin at the "regular" Canyon Put in just below Drumbeater expect to take 45min - 1 hour before reaching Trout Creek which is the first spot you can take out if your car is there.

From Trout down to Index is another 5 miles of splashy class III's. There are several islands that split the river into braids. Generally all the routes go well, esp when Sky@GB is above 10k, but sticking to the right bank often gives up the most character of the other channels. Due to wood hazards and continous nature of the current strong class III skills on this Lower stretch are recommended. This stretch adds 45m more. It is quite scenic on clear day but can't be recommended below 8k on Sky@ GB.

Due to Recent Floods this River should be treated as an Exploratory.

Thanks for the Patience.


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Trip NameTrip Date
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Trip Report NF Sky 5/11/1...5/13/2019

Beta Trail    
SubmissionBeta Submitted BySubmitted On
huckin harms's 6/19/2012 Run Submissionhuckin harms6/19/2012 8:06:00 PM
James's 6/16/2011 Run SubmissionJames6/16/2011 7:54:00 AM
huckin harms's 6/13/2011 Run Submissionhuckin harms6/13/2011 9:19:00 AM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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