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Whitechuck    Bridge above Crystal Creek to Sauk River™ ©
Class III-IV

River Mapplet
Zip Code : 98241 General Area
County : Snohomish

There is currently no Gauge Data on this stretch. Please Email us if you have details about a realtime gauge for this river.
Minimum Recomended Level:  250      Maximum Recomended Level:  1000  

  Putin Details

To get to the put-in take Mt. Loop HWY south to FS 23 (the second road on the left). Take FS 23 up until you reach the washout 1.7 miles up the valley. There is a very steep trail that goes from the road down to the river bed, but the easier way to the river is to lower your boats down the washout, and walk the trail that goes around the washout. When you are on the far side of the washout follow the rim down to the river bed. A lot of the run can be scouted on the way to the put-in by taking the side roads that head towards the river.

  Takeout Details

From Darrington take Mt Loop HWY until you cross the bridge over the Sauk River. Turn left after the Sauk bridge, immediately crossing another bridge other the Whitechuck. Continue a short way to the Whitechuck river access spot on the Sauk right below the confluence.

Alternatively you can run the lower Whitechuck and take out at Clear Creek on the Sauk.

 River Alerts   ( Add Alert ) Pinned Forum Threads
 An alder fell of the bank and now spans the whole channel in the last drop before the Sauk. It is clearly visible from the bridge. - Posted by: ThrowYaMittsUp on 6/5/2014 4:04:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

 The first 1 1/2 miles of the Bennett 6 mile run are very woody and the Class V rapid is unrunnable because of wood. The short run is clean. - Posted by: TomS on 4/10/2016 8:33:00 AM -  [Remove Alert]

There are no forum threads pinned to this run.

Features on this run

Feature Name Class
Gabe’s Gauntlet III
Bridge Drop III+
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  Other Issues

NOTE: The information on this river description was current as of 2010... In fall 2011, the Whitechuck road was re-opened and there is now access to the orginal put-in at the Whitechuck road bridge approx 5 miles up from the Mt. Loop Highway. If you run this full run, treat it as exploratory... there WILL be wood and the Bennett book description noted a class 5 rapid that is a portage in this section. If you run this full run, please report back so we can update this page.

  Fun Facts

The lower Whitechuck River is a scenic tour of the destruction left by the floods of 2003 that destroyed many of the recreation areas around Darrington. It starts at a washed out road, and ends at a washed out boat ramp below a newly replaced bridge. The river is lined with massive lumber piles left by the flood. During lower water (below 750 CFS) the riverbed leaves most of the log jams out of the water, but new wood is always a possibility on this run so use caution on the river. The river is very continuous, and hard to read due to glacial silt from the Whitechuck Glacier which turns the water a green or gray color depending on how much rainwater is in the river. The river has several side channels, that are big wood hazards. Follow the channel with the most water and you will avoid the worst of it. The river is shallow and can generate very painful swims, and very long gear chases, so people just getting into class III should stay away.

   Run Description

The run starts out with a class II+/III- wave trains. These are broken up by short but steep class III/III+ rapids.

As you come around the first horseshoe bend of the run the river becomes steeper. At the base of this rapid two logs hang over the river at a narrow point. As of 07/11/06 there is just enough room to limbo your way under the logs, but in years past there have been channel spanning logs here. If you are uncomfortable with the move, or the channel is blocked you can beach yourself on river right and portage.

After some more class II+ action the river will break into two channels and bend immediately to the right. Only the left channel is runnable. This is the Pinch, first real rapid of the run. Here the river narrows and gets steeper. At high water there is a large hole in the top part of the rapid at river center below which there is a chute formed by a large boulder on river left, and the log studded bank on river right. The river then broadens and bends to the left. It goes down another drop the right side of which has a series of wood piles on the right bank. The last of the piles has a log that extends out into the current. There used to be another log that extended out from the left side as well blocking all but ten feet of the center channel. The log is gone as of 07/06, but in talking to some fish**man (shorehugger) it may return in years to come.

After the Pinch there is a little class III- boulder garden. When the river bends back to the right you enter Gabe’s Gauntlet. This rapid is named after Gabe from SRK who dislocated his shoulder here in Oct. 05 (see trip report Whitechuck f-up) This is a III+ rapid which starts out with a easy, relatively broad boulder garden, and suddenly narrows at the bottom between a river right boulder, and a high bank to the left. The line in med to high flows is to run the constriction point left to right. During low water run the constriction down the right side. This keeps you away from the root ball hanging off the left bank into the water just downstream of the drop.

The river then takes you through a series of class III- rapids broken up by class II+ wave trains before you reach the Gateway. You will know you are coming up to the Gateway when you come to a large tree that extends from river right and blocks 2/3 of the river. At most flows you can get around the end of the tree on river right, but as the water drops you may need to portage as the route becomes dry.

The Gateway is a series of two short and steep drops divided by a small boulder garden. The first one is a carbon copy of the constriction at Gabe’s Gauntlet. The second bends to the left and has a large rock (or hole depending on the water level) in the center, and a log jam on the right bank. The line is to either run center left, or center right.

The next rapid is Bridge Drop. This (and the bottom drop to Gateway) can be scouted from the first left turn after the Sauk River bridge on the way to the put-in. There is a trail that goes from the road down to the river that allows you to put-in on Bridge Drop for a run down the Sauk. Here the river descends a series of ledges before going under the ruined bridge that used to go to the Whitechuck/Sauk boat launch. The line is down the center of the ledges. The sides are runnable, but considerably bonier. Be wary of the nasty logjam at the base of the bridge. During medium and high flows you do not have much recovery time between the last ledge and the logjam. During low water the channel migrates away from the logs, and while they are never really out of the river, you would have to work to get to them.

After Bridge Drop all that is left is to ride the little rapid below the bridge to the Sauk. Stay away from the river right side of the channel after you go under the tree hanging over the river as wood tends to gather here just off the bank.

**** Details Submitted by Kyle Wiggins ****


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JoesKayak's 4/10/2012 Run SubmissionJoesKayak4/10/2012 8:16:00 AM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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