geomorph's Submission - Entered on 1/2/2012 9:11:00 PM
Notes: I run the Tilton with Chris (Bigwater) all the time and we just got back from two days on it (2200 cfs and 1700cfs). Great play and great rapids both days with no wood hazards at all (I'll take pictures next time). I thought the river description wasn't very helpful so I'm providing my take. Feel free to edit or delete entirely.
Gauge Information (Last updated with USGS at 3/23/2017 5:12:22 AM)
TILTON RIVER AB BEAR CANYON C
||NWRFC | FC Page
3rd Party Gauge
||3/23/2017 4:45:00 AM
Minimum Recomended Level: 800 cfs Maximum Recomended Level: 4000 cfs
Put-in has easy access for rafts or kayaks at bridge crossing along SR 508. Take out is at Ike Kinswa State Park. You need a Discovery Pass to park there. Getting to the takeout requires a 2 mile flatwater paddle at the upstream end of Mayfield lake.
To reach the put-in, drive back out to the Y-intersection and then take the other fork heading north (Cinebar Road). In approximately 4.5 miles the road comes to a T. Turn right and continue east on SR 508 for about 7 miles. You'll cross high over a tributary creek before you arrive at the bridge across the Tilton. There is parking and easy river access on the upstream river left side of the Tilton River bridge.
Take exit 68 (Rt. 12 E towards Morton Yakima) follow for about 12 miles until sign for Ike Kinswa State park, Sign will point you left onto SR 122 (Harmony Rd.). Drive until fork in the road, at fork take the right road and follow for another 1.5-2.0 miles, take left into Ike Kinswa State Park. Park towards back of lot near the grassy field next to the lake.
Park has a gate that they lock. Park hours SUMMER: 6:30 am - Dusk. WINTER 8:am - Dusk. THIS IS HIGHLY ENFORCED. I had a friend get locked in there recently, don't allow your safety meetings to drag on too long or you might spend the night in the park. Dont' forget Discovery pass.
The easiest flows are between 1200 and 1800cfs on the Tilton gauge. Above 2000 cfs the canyon becomes swirly.
This run is a little off the beaten path and has a lengthy paddle both into and out of this gem of a canyon, but it has some amazing play waves at different flows along with quality rapids. A favorite among many Washington paddlers.
Run Description [Season: winter/spring]
---- Submitted by geomorph on 1/2/2012 ----
Float downstream through swift class II for a little more than two miles. Past the gauge station, the river will make a right and a left with little rapids and will then canyon up. The first major rapid of the canyon (a class III+ series of big waves and little holes) is just downstream. This rapid is typically run straight down the middle and it can be easily scouted (and probably portaged) from river right.
Just downstream of this rapid, you’ll come to the remains of the log jam. The right side of the canyon is still blocked by wood, but the left side is wide open (there is wood downstream of the opening, but it is easily avoided). Float for about quarter mile down to the next left bend and start watching for surf waves.
Easy class III rapids follow until you pass a small waterfall coming in on your left. The next horizon line marks a big fluffy drop that is typically run straight down the middle (possible scout on the right). Just downstream from this drop is the playhole (best from 800-1400 cfs). Continue past the playhole and enjoy easy class III for another quarter mile. At the next big left bend, look for a play wave with eddy access.
Past the bend, the river goes straight until the next rapid with a big swirly section that will move you in an ‘S’ pattern. Just downstream of here is ‘Leap of Faith’. Leap of faith can be scouted on river left and it typically run starting at the river right along the shear cliff wall. Move right to left through this drop to avoid the big hole at the bottom (the left eddy at the bottom is a good place to aim for). The rock that required the ‘leap of faith’ has long since disappeared. Below leap of faith, continue through the squirrely water to where the creek comes in from the right. Be careful here with you boat scouting and make sure the next constriction is clear before proceeding.
The drop just downstream of the squirrely narrows has an exposed boulder of the left and a covered boulder on the right. This rapid is typically run starting left and moving right to avoid the big hole in the left side near the bottom and then moving left again below it. Below this, the canyon gets easier again for a while. Check out the waterfalls and look for play waves.
About 2 miles past leap of faith, the river will canyon up again and you’ll find yourself floating up to a horizon line (scary Gary falls). The typical line is down the right, but at higher water there is a boof to be found in a route second to the left where the water flows around a curve and over a large boulder. Paddler’s hungry for more vertical than they found upstream might want to check out the boof.
Just downstream the river makes a right into a big pool and then takes a hard left into a wide boulder garden. This is the ‘crux’ rapid (class IV) and it can be scouted from the left (and portaged on the left with a huge amount of effort). The typical line starts left and then moves towards the middle. At the bottom of the boulder garden stay as center as possible and brace your way through a series of big waves/holes. There is a nice recovery pool before the last rapid in the series which is run down the left.
Smile at another fabulous day on the Tilton and try to enjoy the 2 mile flat water paddle out.