A friend and I recently took our new (well, in my case, not so much new as only used twice) kayaks out for a test paddle on a four-mile section of the Snoqualmie River below Snoqualmie Falls.
The section of river is pretty mellow (some Class II rapids) and perfect for practice, testing new gear or just taking a casual float to Fall City or beyond. But in the interest of trying to impress our wives and children, we told our family the trip was death-defying.
The section of river is usually open all year, however the best rapids – upstream from the powerhouse – are currently off limits because of construction to the nearby Puget Sound Energy hydroelectric facilities.
Since April 2010 paddlers haven’t been allowed to put-in for the powerhouse section because of the construction. A guard is stationed on the road to turn cars around.
River access is expected to return April 30, 2013.
While some have walked in to put-in above the powerhouse and run the rapids, Puget Sound Energy prohibits using its property. In a recent email circulating among local paddlers, the company warns visitors not to land on its property or its cofferdams, tarps secured to the river bottom.
When Brian Devereux and I visited the river on July 29, we put in below the rapids and enjoyed an easy float to Fall City. The trip was quite easy and relaxing for both of us, although I learned that even the marginal chop of these mellow rapids are enough to require a spray skirt. I had to stop twice to empty my kayak.