JoesKayak's Submission - Entered on 6/20/2016 11:15:00 AM
Gauge Information (Last updated with USGS at 3/23/2017 2:57:27 PM)
SF STILLAGUAMISH RIVER NEAR G
||NWRFC | FC Page
3rd Party Gauge
||3/23/2017 2:15:00 PM
Minimum Recomended Level: 5.5 ft Maximum Recomended Level: 8 ft
The Mt. Loop Highway provides access to this run. There are multiple spots for put-ins and take outs. The full 9 mile run is from Red Bridge to Verlot or Turlo Campground. However, many boaters cut off the class 2 & flat water at the beginning and end of the run by using alternate access. A popular run is from Big Bend to Verlot Bridge for a quick 3-4 mile run that includes all the class 3 rapids.
Starting from the lower takeout and heading upstream, here's a list of major access spots:
Turlo Campground - Good access in off season. Open usually May to October. The easiest access is often through some of the riverside camp spots, but during summer the riverside campgrounds are usually full, which limits your access to a small landing and trail near the entrance to the park. Park outside the park across from Verlot Ranger Station and walk up from the park. Decent raft access. You'll have to pay a camping fee if you park in the campground.
Verlot Campground - Open year-round. There's a good landing spot in the park. Good raft access. Like Turlo, there's a campground fee if you park there.
Verlot Bridge - Access used to be better here but construction at the bridge has made it worse. Take out on river Left downstream of the bridge and carry up short steep trail. Not bad for kayaks, but crappy for rafts. Park along jersey barrier.
Riverside - Less than a mile up past Verlot there's a riverside spot with easy access. When the big logjam was in play, this was a good spot to take out early to avoid it. If you have a raft and not much help to shlep it, this is the easiest take-out, but you'll miss a couple good rapids.
Big Bend - About 4 miles up from Verlot, the river makes a big bend and deep pool near the road. Good parking and short drag over rocks down to the river. Put-in here if you don't want to deal with the flat water (and usually at least one log jam portage) upstream.
Boardman Creek - A couple miles past Big Bend is Boardman Creek. There's parking here and fairly easy access down a trail to the river here. Adds on a couple more river miles than Big Bend, but mostly flat water and one nice big logjam to portage.
Red Bridge - A couple miles past Boardman Creek is Red Bridge campground. This is the upper put-in for this run. From here down to Boardman are a couple class 2s and probably a log or two.. Above is the upper SF Stilly run.
Multiple - see Access Description
Multiple - see Access Description
The drop just upstream of the Mt. Loop Highway bridge just past Verlot presents a hazard now, as there are logs cabled into the river right bank for bank stabilization with rootball ends poking into the river. A good deal of the current pushes into the right bank here, so treat this spot with caution. Its not hard to miss the wood if you're in control but it could be ugly to get pushed into the logs. You can check it out during the shuttle by checking it out from the bridge.
The giant logjam that was 1/4 mile upstream from the Verlot bridge is gone, there's still a few logs left in the riverbed here and the riverbed continues to change here with each flood season and is finding it's way back into old channels that were previously blocked by wood.
Run Description [Season: Nov-June]
This is a really fun run at a variety of levels. At moderate flows, the SF Stilly is a great stepping stone for paddlers making the move up to class 3. At moderate flows most of the main rapids have good recovery stretches, though a good roll is recommended as it is rocky at all but high levels. The Wiley Creek area provides the most whitewater, although there is good stuff pretty much all the way from the big bend put in to the lower takeout.
Here's a basic rundown of this section:
From the upper put-in at Red Bridge, the river is mostly flat or class 2 for the first few miles. There is usually at least one logjam to portage in the first few miles. Downstream from the alternate access at Boardman creek the river continues for another mile or so of easy floating but stay alert for wood hazards. There has been a logjam for several years about a mile below Boardman creek. Eddy out left for the easy portage.
Not long after the logjam portage is a fun class 2 rapid just above the put-in at Big Bend. There's a big deep pool here as the river makes a looping bend near the road. Below this pool are a couple nice warm-up class 2 rapids. Wiley Creek then pours in on river right, and the fun really begins.
The Wiley Creek section contains several separate rapids over a half mile of river. There's pools between the drops at low levels but they all merge together when it's high. Downstream from Wiley Creek the river begins a long bend to the left and enters a gradually steepening boulder garden with a few nice holes. At the end of this drop, the river turns to the right and continues through a couple more easier drops before entering a constriction in the river, which is the main "Wiley Creek Rapids". There's a big pullout on the road, to allow scouting ahead of time. This rapid is often run down the left but can be run right or middle depending on level and how much excitement you're looking for. Below this drop are a couple more easier drops with a few sneaky holes. Then you have a couple hundred yards of easier water before entering the next rapid at Black Creek.
Just after Black Creek pours in from river left, a long boulder garden appears that has surprised many boaters. It's a long slalom through rocks and holes with a bouldery ledge at the bottom that is quite technical at low water and pushy at high water. At some levels a sneak route can be found on the left. Black Creek Rapids can be scouted ahead of time by pulling off at the unimproved camping area just west of the bridge over Black Creek.
Downstream from here, things mellow a bit with more space between rapids, but there's still several good class 2-3+ rapids.
The next rapid of note is 22 creek rapids, which is visible from the road. It starts as a wide shallow boulder garden and then the river splits around a huge midstream boulder. Wood sometimes collects here, especially on the left side of the big boulder so keep your eyes open. This rapid can be road scouted by pulling over near the bridge over 22 Creek.
The next big rapid is just above where the big logjam used to be. It's marked by a number of cabins on the left bank. It has become steeper and rockier in the last few years and is now one of the best rapids on the run. Take care here, below 5.5' it can be a boat beater and at higher water there's some big holes.
A couple more quick rapids and you'll be at the Mt. Loop Highway bridge. Lots of folks take out here, but its worth continuing down to Verlot or Turlo and you'll be rewarded with a handful of class 2 rapids and one class 3 marked by a cool waterfall coming in from the left. This rapid has a couple big boulders near the end that create some powerful holes at low-med levels and some huge haystack waves at high water. At higher levels (~7 ft) just aim right down the middle of them and paddle hard.
Watch the level closely before running. The Stilly can rise very quickly with rain.
The Stilly is runnable at a wide range of levels. It also rises and drops faster than a lot of other rivers. Be sure to take into consideration if the river is rising or falling and get a visual on the flow before running.
4.8 - 5.2 ELF Very low but still quite fun if you're looking for some very technical boulder garden style boating. Watch out for pin hazards
5.2 - 5.5 LOW Pretty easy, but quite technical. Most rapids have good channels but the wider sections are scrapey.
5.5 - 6.0 MED-LOW Kayakers may find this to be the easiest range. The river is filled in just enough to not be too technical. Fairly easy going class 3 at this range. Drops are fairly padded out and there's good recovery pools below most rapids.
6.0 - 7.0 MEDIUM The river is filled in fairly well at 6 feet and gets better wave trains and holes as levels rise. The river picks up speed at the upper end of this range and several of the rapids are 3+.
7.0 - 8.0 MEDIUM HIGH Fun level with fast currents, nice wave trains and some big holes. A couple of the rapids are pushing class IV at the upper range.
8.0+ HIGH Gets progressively bigger as levels increase. The river is very fast and develops some huge holes. It does get run at high levels but stay in control as swims can be epic. Around 10 feet is basically flood stage.
RAFTS: Small paddle rafts OK at 6.0'. Larger rafts will want 6.5' or more