Not to be confused with Southwest Washington’s Canyon Creek, this run is a reliable rainy season offering northeast of Seattle. Canyon Creek cuts through an intimate canyon with a mix of boulder garden and ledge style rapids. Once you know the lines, it is a very quick run that is easy to lap. At low flows it is a great clinic spot for class IV boaters to hone their creeking skills, while high flows make this a great option for class V boaters when nearby Robe Canyon is too high.

Mile 0: Just below the put-in the First Drop (IV-V) doesn't offer much in the way of a warm-up but it is a good “filter feature” that establishes the difficulty of the run and what to expect downstream. A gradual lead-in yields to a river wide ledge that drops into a wall before making an abrupt 90 degree turn to the right. A fast moving pool below leads to another ledge drop most commonly run left. Trouble in the top ledge could lead to an uncomfortable swim and some first times might choose to put in in the pool below.

First Drop sets the tone for the run.

First Drop sets the tone for the run.

After the first rapid the river enters a low walled canyon with 4 distinct class III-IV drops that can be boat scouted.

Mile 0.45: Double Drop (IV+) comes right after a class III+/IV- rapid and is marked by a big midstream rock that splits the flow. While the rapid is a little more challenging to boat scout, it offers a good line near the right wall through a pair of flushy holes.

A pair of kayakers in Double Drop.

A pair of kayakers in Double Drop.

Mile 0.48: Landslide Rapid (IV+), the longest and most complex rapid of the run, follows a short pool after Double Drop. Landslide is a congested boulder garden that frequently changes and has a tendency to collect wood. Scouting is possible from the talus slope on river right.

A pair of kayakers runs Landslide.

A pair of kayakers runs Landslide.

Mile 0.55: A final ledge (IV) comes after at the very end of Landslide. The ledge itself is a simple boof on the right shoulder or over the meat in the middle but a blown line often results in a beatdown in the retentive hydraulic. It is easy to scout and set safety by catching an eddy just above it on river right.

Make sure you boof the last drop!

Make sure you boof the last drop!

The remainder of the run has some fun read and run rapids before you reach Canyon Creek’s confluence with the South Fork of the Stillaguamish just above the takeout.

Written by
Tim Kelley

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