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Tolt, N. Fork    ab. Yellow Creek to SF Tolt™ ©
Class IV-V+

River Mapplet
Put In Longitude : -121.74317 Putin
Put In Latitude : 47.7195778
Take Out Longitude : -121.82123 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 47.6957664
County : King Shuttle
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from NORTH FORK TOLT RIVER NEAR CA at 7/15/2020 3:18:35 PM)
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
NORTH FORK TOLT RIVER NEAR CA NWRFC | FC Page 3.02  68.5 cfs  USGS - NWIS 09-29-2016 23:45:00
Minimum Recomended Level:  200 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  450 cfs 

  Putin Details

From Carnation, head a few miles north on 203. Take a right on Stillwater Hill/Kelly Rd. Follow this a few miles. The road to hike in on is a paved, gated road on the right. On the gate it says ďKelly RdĒ, and there are signs that say something about the Seattle water supply. Park a bit past this road on the left. Hike about 4 miles on this road until it goes downhill, back up around a right bend. Take a left onto a well-maintained gravel road (if you miss this left, you will soon reach the lower bridge over the NF Tolt). Stay on this road (donít take a turn to the right) for about four miles, crossing Yellow Creek, until you reach a T-intersection. Go right downhill to the river.

  Takeout Details

From downtown Carnation, go east on Entwhistle Rd, which becomes Tolt River Rd. Follow this a few miles until you get to a public fishing access at the river.

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  Other Issues

At 370 cfs the whitewater was filled in but still manageable; this is an ideal flow. There is no specific rapid that would be flow limiting but anything above 500 would be quite pushy.

   Run Description

The North Fork Tolt is the nearest Class V river to Seattle and it ranks high in terms of scenery and quality of whitewater. Despite this, it is rarely paddled due to access restrictions. Unlike the Puyallup River, which has no entry permitted whatsoever, you are allowed to hike into the Tolt. It is eight miles to the putin . On the run are two distinct and beautiful canyons. The first is over a mile long and contains some challenging rapids, and for the most part is not inescapable. The second canyon is shorter and has less whitewater, but its spectacular geology is reward enough. Overall, I think itís worth the hike. Due to the nature of the whitewater and difficulty of access this river should be treated as an exploratory and only attempted by those prepared for such undertakings.

Below the putin you will find a few miles of quality III/IV whitewater. Then the river starts to narrow. There are a number of fun IV+ drops that lead you right to the lip of a junky horizon line. This is a large, unrunnable falls. We climbed out of the canyon on river right and scrambled down not far below, which involved a seal launch into the river directly at the lip of a tight IV+ rapid. After that we were able to stay at river level for the remainder of the canyon. There are four or five Vís, including a challenging series that culminates in a river-wide hole, and one difficult portage that involved a slippery traverse on the right followed by a seal launch from high up the canyon wall. Another drop involved ducking under a rootball at the bottom; Iím not sure how feasible this would be flows above 500. An excellent sliding waterfall is found after the river opens up.

The second canyon is extremely committing, once you drop in thereís no way out except the exit at the bottom. There is a bridge high above that would facilitate scouting if walking on it wasnít restricted. Take the time to ensure everything is clear, as is common with canyons of this nature, a badly placed log would be the nightmare that no boater should face. If you only want to run the lower canyon it would be possible to put in right above it. This would require about five miles hiking instead of eight. There is a portageable drop at the entrance to the canyon and then the rest of the drops are Class IV. Below this are a couple miles of enjoyable III/IV that lead you to the confluence with the SF Tolt. From here itís a few miles of Class II to the takeout.


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fiddleyak's 6/27/2011 Run Submissionfiddleyak6/27/2011 10:48:00 PM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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