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Skykomish River2021-09-24T08:44:19-07:00

Skykomish River Rafting Guidebook

While we call this section the Skykomish, you won’t be on the main stem until your first turn. You’ll put in on the South Fork of the Skykomish before merging with the North Fork of the Skykomish which together form the Skykomish. This section of the river is well known for its fishing as well as its rafting. The majority of this section is Class III, but Boulder Drop is considered to be Class IV/IV+ depending on the flows. It’s a short section, with a quick shuttle, so many boaters will do several laps in a day.

About This Guide

This guide covers the major features of the Skykomish River. We cover the stretch from the Put-In just above Cable Drop rapid all the way to the Big Eddy Fishing Access.

Safety

The Skykomish is a challenging run. You should be an advanced boater if you are to raft it. Wet suits or dry suits are recommended.

Permits

A permit is not required to run the Skykomish. You will need a Recreation Pass at the Cable Drop Put-In and a Discovery Pass Big Eddy Fishing Access to park vehicles.

Boulder Drop

Boulder Drop is the crux of the Skykomish, and you’ll definitely want to scout it at any flow, especially if you haven’t run it before. It’s a long rapid, with many different lines – as the name implies, it’s littered with many large boulders and rocks. A swim here could be hazardous.

The Skykomish is runnable from 1,000 CFS – 6,000 CFS. Link to Dreamflows gauge.

Skykomish River Flow
Gauge data provided by Dream Flows

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Skykomish River Map & Guide

WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment. Go with someone with recent Skykomish experience.

Point of Interest

Bridges, private property, etc.

Raft Surf Wave

Indicates well known surf waves.

Put-In / Take-Out

The most commonly used access points.

Class II Rapid

Class II rapid or river feature.

Class III Rapid

Class III rapid or river feature.

Class IV Rapid

Class IV rapid or river feature.

Skykomish River – Class II, III & IV

This section ties together the South Fork of the Skykomish with the North Fork of the Skykomish, together forming the main stem of the Skykomish.

Length

Cable Drop Put-In to Big Eddy Fishing Access is 6.7  miles.

Difficulty

Moderate to Advanced

Average Gradient

The Skykomish River drops ~35 feet per mile.

Shuttle Time

Cable Drop Put-In to Big Eddy Fishing Access is 15 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 0 – Put-In: This is also a trailhead for hiking and it gets very busy on weekends. There is a boat ramp to carry your boat down. This is above the Skykomish river confluence on the South Fork. At flows below 1500, this section will be too low for rafts. The bridge on Hwy 2 right at the confluence could be used as a low water put-in, however, parking is limited and you will have to carry the boat down sideways due to narrow pathway.”

Mile 0.05 – Cable Drop: Class III+. You can go right or left of the channel, beware of the large rock in the middle.

Mile 0.601 – Skykomish Bridge: Around a half mile into your journey, the river passes underneath the Skykomish Brigde

Mile 0.67 – North Fork Skykomish River Confluence: River Right. The North Fork of the Skykomish River meets the South Fork of the Skykomish, giving way to the Skykomish River

Mile 1.4 – Garbage: Class III. Appears as the river bends left. Stay with the main flow and keep your eyes peeled for some large boulders.

Mile 1.67 – Anderson Hole: Class III. As you turn the corner after finishing Garbage rapid, you’ll see this short straightforward rapid. Watch out for the hole in higher flows.

Mile 1.82 – Boulder Drop: Class IV. This is a long rapid, with different lines depending on the flows. A swim could be dangerous. Scouting on the left is highly recommended if you have not ran it at the level of the flow before. Learn more about Boulder Drop Rapid.

Mile 2.02 – The Weir: Class III. Directly below Boulder Drop, this is a very short straightforward class III., It becomes a big hole at flows above 15,000.

Mile 2.42 – Lunch Hole: Class III+. The hole that gives it’s name to this rapid is on the left river bank. You’ll see it when the river bends left and then right again where the hole is. Start on the left channel and paddle wide right to avoid it. You can boof over and “punch” it at around 3,000, but beware that the hole is somewhat retentive at flows above 3,000 and below 5,000.

Mile 2.58 – Aquagasm: Class III. This is a very fun rapid that creates a rollercoaster waver train on center right. Line up well and enjoy.

Mile 3.04 – Split Rock: River Left. Put-in/Take out This is the large eddy on river left. You’ll notice a big boulder that is split in half right before.

Mile 3.11 – Rapid #1: Class II. Just downstream of the Split Rock Put-In is a small riffle. You’ll pass under an old bridge.

Mile 3.2 – Second Bridge: The second bridge passes over the Skykomish River just below the Split Rock Put-In.

Mile 3.85 – Austin Creek Confluence: River Right. Austin Creek enters the Skykomish from the right hand side

Mile 5.29 – Fisherman’s Rapid: Class III. This is a popular fishing spot, and you’ll see many people fishing on river banks.

Mile 5.94 – Proctor Rapid: Class III. At above 5000 there will be a hole right in the middle. Otherwise, T-up the big waves in this fun rapid.

Mile 6.38 – Unnamed Rapid #2: Class II. This is the last rapid of the Skykomish, and will take you almost under Stevens Pass Bridge before take-out

Mile 6.6 – Steven’s Pass Bridge: Just above the takeout, the Stevens River Bridge crosses over the Skykomish. This is the last of the bridges you will see.

Mile 6.71 – Big Eddy: River Left. Take-out. Once you pass under the highway, you will see a railroad bridge. The Big Eddy take-out boat ramp is right above the bridge on river left. Expect this place to be packed on summer weekends as it is a popular swimming spot, and launch spot for fishing rafts.

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