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Carbon    1 - Fairfax to 177th St. East™ ©
Class V.2
Avg Gradient 80 fpm

River Mapplet
Put In Longitude : -122.01183 Putin
Put In Latitude : 47.0110283
Take Out Longitude : -122.10350 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 47.0973053
County : Pierce Shuttle
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from CARBON RIVER NEAR FAIRFAX, WA at 3/13/2021 9:25:47 PM)
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
CARBON RIVER NEAR FAIRFAX, WA NWRFC | FC Page 6.22  169 cfs  USGS - NWIS 03-13-2021 21:00:00
Minimum Recomended Level:  350 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  700 cfs 

  Putin Details

There are technically two different putin options. The guide book suggests putting in above 2 large rapids which are just past the Carbon River bridge. To access the Upper Putin you drive up Mowich Lake Rd (HWY 165) to the Fairfax Forest Reserve Road E. About 1.5 miles up the Fairfax road the river comes into view and you can put in.

The lower putin although more technical removes 2 rapids and allows you to run the river at a much higher flow without dealing with Ricks Slide. To access this putin drive up the mowich river road and 1/2 mile prior to the carbon river bridge you will find a gravel pull out on the left. Park there and descend into the canyon. Be aware you will need a rope and belay device for lowering into the canyon.

  Takeout Details

The standard take is at a turnout a few miles down 177th St. There is also a takeout on private property a few miles upstream, but do not use this unless you have verbal permission from the landlord on the day of your run.

 River Alerts   ( Add Alert ) Pinned Forum Threads
 I paddled the Carbon River on 6/08/2014. The flow was a little over 500 so about 520 cfs. FYI, we put in a few miles above the "high bridge", just below the ranger station. Drove right to the river. Wood locations in the following areas. 1) Two logs you can see in the rapid below the bridge. Scout carefully at the bridge. The lower one is in the same spot as last year. We caught the small river left eddy above the first one (hi pucker factor, must make eddy) and easily portaged over the rock and seal launched in. Last year on the second log, we ducked under it but this year there was a lower small limb sticking out that caused issues. Would be great if someone that went in took a saw and cut this new lower limb so we can duck it again next time (hint hint) 2) Avlanche river left in some calm water. Easy to see and scout. We were were able to go over one log weave between some branches and come out the back side. Different flows, possible different story with going over the log. Easy to see, easy to scout but don''t forget to look at the backside. We missed seeing one log on the backside that luckily was NOT in play for us but might be at lower flows. 3) Avalanch and logs in the last "major" rapid, Utter Undercut. The one that pinches down to about 4 feet wide and exits river left and has some weird currents that flip about 75% the level above. We eddied out in a small eddy on river left and then you carry down a ways and we put back on and got to run the bottom. Pretty easy to see from above. Be careful if you go to that eddy, you are committed to running the bottom. Possible portage on river right but lots of work. Our motto was just flip and roll up! 4) Class III Rapid immediately after the above rapid. The river makes a sharp right and a big log is at the bottom. Hard to see till you are already in the rapid. We BARELY squeezed under it on river right. It is severly cracked in the middle and I think will flush next high water but also may move lower due to the crack. I would DEFINATELY get eyes on this one. - Posted by: UpNOver on 6/9/2014 5:02:00 PM -  [Remove Alert]

Carbon River, WA - wood reportWhitewater Forum
Request for wood report on Carbon RiverWhitewater Forum

Features on this run

Feature Name Class
Lobster Claw V
Ricks Slide V
15 Footer V
Classic Canyon IV
Landslide Rapid V
Utter Undercuter IV+
Add a Feature | Re-Order Features

  Other Issues

Rick's Slide lurks a short distance downstream of the bridge over the upper canyon. This unportable rapid has a bad pocket eddy on the right that becomes difficult-to-impossible to escape at higher flows.
A strong paddler was able to paddle out of the eddy on Rick's at 400 cfs. The rapid becomes more difficult at 500, and higher water would make the hole on river left even bigger, increasing the chance that you will be pushed right into the eddy.
Treat this section with the utmost respect. 400 cfs is a good flow to run the whole run--the lower part is still enjoyable at this flow.

  Fun Facts

More Action:

   Run Description

First before we get into the river description too far lets discuss the separation between two distinctly different portions of the river. Just below Ricks slide the canyon opens up significantly and the rapids become lower in difficulty until late in the run. Because the river channel is tighter up top and the rapids are more difficult it is not often that folks run the upper portion in high ranges. Unfortunately the lower portion quickly becomes boney with less water since it is more spread out and open. This creates a shift between sections that is hard to match up outside of the 450-550 cfs zone. Above 550 the upper is cranking and below 450 the lower is boney. To get around this we use the Rappel putin below Ricks Slide. This allows you to paddle up to 700 without the intense water in the upper canyon and still gives you plenty of water in the lower stretches. So there you have it, almost two separate runs accessed by rope unless you combine them together.

Once you pass Ricks Slide which is considered the crux of the upper portion the river drops around several blind corners before arriving at a 15 foot ledge that is significantly undercut and has a cave behind the veil. The common portage here is on river right up and over a smooth slab of rock, seal launching behind it.

The river quickly picks up pace and you will enjoy about 1 mile of fun class IV before the pace tapers down for a few rapids as you approach Classic Canyon. Below Classic Canyon the river continues for several miles bending through class II-III gardens that have wood issues from time to time.

The first large rapid after this short stretch is a fun corner that looks intimidating but is actually a great marker as the pace picks up. Below the corner rapid you will pass through a few class II-III rapids before arriving at the cross current boof with run out garden. This rapid is a blast, there is a broken ledge on river right and a nice smooth boof in the center, then below is a nice eddy and the runout which goes through a little boulder garden about 25-50 meters long. Below this rapid you will quickly pass through 3 more small features before arriving at the landslide rapid which constantly changes.

Below the landslide rapid is a continuous stretch of class IV with a pinched Undercut rapid in the middle. Be sure to catch eddies and scout this stretch as it would be a bummer to run the wrong lines. Below the utter under cutter is more fun class IV for 1/4-1/2 mile before the run turns to class II. At the change of pace there is private property on the right. You should continue down for a few miles into the flat areas for a roadside access point.


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Beta Trail    
SubmissionBeta Submitted BySubmitted On
fiddleyak's 8/10/2011 Run Submissionfiddleyak8/10/2011 9:04:00 AM
kurle's 1/12/2011 Run Submissionkurle1/12/2011 2:19:00 PM
kurle's 1/12/2011 Run Submissionkurle1/12/2011 2:15:00 PM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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