Little Wenatchee River: Fall Creek to Lake Creek Campground
Attractions: The Little Wenatchee boasts a wide range of desirable flows, long season, crystal clear water, great class IV/V rapids, beautiful scenery, an easy shuttle, and close proximity to other runs.
Distance: 3.5 miles
Skill: 4 (expert–Class IV and V)
Fitness: 3 (advanced)
Average Gradient: 94 fpm
Gauge Information: The Department of Ecology has a realtime guage on this creek — a report from American Whitewater state the river is at very good levels between 800 to 900 cfs. The kayakers who work for Leavenworth Mountain Sports prefer using the Wenatchee River as their gauge and run the Little Wenatchee when the Wenatchee is running 8,000 to 10,000 cfs at the Peshastin Gauge.
Put-In and Take-Out: From Highway 2 at Coles Corner (just upstream of Tumwater Canyon), turn north onto Highway 207 towards Lake Wenatchee. Continue on this road as it becomes Lake Wenatchee Highway and runs around the north end of the lake. You will pass the turn for White River Highway but stay to the left and continue on across the White River. In 11.8 miles from Highway 2 the road becomes Forest Road 65. At mile 16.6 you will pass the turn for Forest Road 67. You can use this for an alternate access on river right but most continue on upstream Forest Road 65 on river left. At mile 20.7 you will reach Lake Creek Campground. This campground is the take-out and it’s a couple hundred yards down a trail to the river. You will want to hike in to check out the river so you recognize the take-out. To reach the put-in continue on upstream to mile 23.5 and a gate. You can park here and hike straight down the hill to the river. It’s about a 10 minute walk down to a point just a short distance upstream of First Ledge.
Trip Details from American Whitewater: “The run starts off with short warm-up that leads to a clean and powerful 8 foot vertical drop called First Ledge. It’s an obvious horizon line and an easy scout on river right. After First Ledge the river continues with some easy class II and just as you’re starting to wonder when the action will pick up you reach some fun class III rapids and enter the First Gorge.
The First Gorge starts out with a couple of fun rapids before you reach The Flume and with it the action cranks up to some great class IV. The Flume is a series of holes and waves in a tight mini gorge that requires a sharp left hand turn at the end to avoid the headwall on river right. It’s an impressive view from upstream as the river appears to dead end in the wall at the bottom. You can scout the whole gorge from river left and this is recommended if you haven’t been down before as wood has been known to collect in the narrow slot at the bottom.
The action continues with great class IV whitewater and continuous action. You will eventually come to Let’s Make a Deal. This rapid is marked by a big wall on river left and starts out with a tricky entrance slide towards river left that is hard to see from above. You then want to work your way over to river right and a small eddy above the river right slot for Let’s Make a Deal. Routes through other slots are possible depending on flows and your skills.
Shortly after Let’s Make a Deal the canyon walls peel back and the run continues with a short class II section. Just as things start to pick up again you’re at the entrance for the Second Gorge. Use caution here as things start off as class III but quickly build to what most consider the one class V drop on the run. You can portage this section on river right (easier than the river left route mentioned in Bennett’s guidebook) or scout from above.
The crux move involves a narrow slot with a double hole sequence. The first hole makes it difficult to line up for the second and many runs finish off with some exciting performances. There is a decent recovery pool at the bottom where a waterfall cascades in on river right (there’s a good seal launch rock downstream of the falls for those who are portaging).
The Second Gorge continues with more great class IV fun. These standout rapids, along with lots of incredible smaller rapids, make the Little Wenatchee a great way to spend an afternoon – or a full day if you are not sure of the strainer situation (the run has many blind corners lacking good eddies).”
Current Conditions. The American Whitewater site lists condition updates about this run. When the run is ‘in’ Leavenworth Mountain Sports (509-548-7864) also likely to know whether there are blockages in the river.
Hazards: Woody matter in or across the river is has been an issue in some years so it’s good to get local beta before heading out.
Source information for ‘Put-in and Take-Out’ and ‘Trip Details’: American Whitewater
Got Updates? If you have corrections or a better account of running this section of river, please submit it to the editor at WenatcheeOutdoors.org so we can improve our information.
Leave It Better Than You Found It: This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.