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Sultan    1. Spada Reservoir to Powerhouse (The Upper)™ ©
Class IV+

River Mapplet
Put In Longitude : -121.72284 Putin
Put In Latitude : 47.9701653
Take Out Longitude : -121.80650 Take Out
Take Out Latitude : 47.9123993
County : Snohomish Shuttle
   Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from SULTAN RIVER BELOW DIVERSION at 3/13/2021 9:25:51 PM)
Gauge Forecast Height Current Flow Authority Physical Update
SULTAN RIVER BELOW DIVERSION n/a 26.03  126 cfs  USGS - NWIS 03-13-2021 20:30:00
Minimum Recomended Level:  400 cfs     Maximum Recomended Level:  1500 cfs 


Head to Olney Pass. On reaching the second gate, where the FS road leading to the put in splits from the PUD access road you should unload. If the gate is open drive to the end of the road where there is a well maintained trail hiking trail with a sign. Take the trail down a number of switchbacks and when you start complaining about the hike just look up and enjoy the scenery.

  Putin Details

If the gate is closed you can ask a PUD worker for access, They open the gate on release days. Its about a 20 minute hike down at a slow speed.

  Takeout Details

Some People take out at the Powerhouse or run to the bottom of the lower run as a combo day. They close the gates at 6Pm but if you get off the river late there will be workers there until 8Pm who can help.

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Sultan ReleaseWhitewater Forum

  Fun Facts

This was the site of a huge land slide that several paddlers barley missed in the gorge. The whole event was captured on film and played on the nightly news for a week.

   Run Description [Season: Release]

Now begins what we call Dancing with Wood. Most of the wood on the run you can see from your boat. River gets started right away and is read and run. As of april 24th, 2016 all of the rapids can be run without portaging anything. There are a few wood hazards but nothing you can't see and nothing that you can't go around.

The canyon is amazing with great quality rapids. class 3-4. In this section of the canyon (above the diversion dam) there is a landslide rapid but not the class v talked about. This one is a class IV and is a pretty straight forward line. My buddy hit the hole in the meat of it and made it through just fine, After a few miles the canyon opens up to beautiful hills and the difficulty drops. Then as you pass gold mining equipment you will come to diversion dam. It looks fun to run but the gate is kept low and could take your head off. The PUD guys also want you to stay away from it. At this point you can hike out if you are tired or PUD will give you a ride. This is the halfway mark.

portage the dam on the right and stretch out because another beautiful canyon is going to start with amazing rapids. Through this canyon you will encounter some great class IV rapids. As you come to one horizon line you will notice it is much steeper than the others. Mist coming up and a very narrow opening in the river. This is the landslide rapid, eddy on the right to scout or portage. It's a thread the needle line, going just right of a rock that could easily break your boat and then getting left to avoid a nasty hole. After this there a couple more class IVs and then things taper off just as you are getting tired. Its still fun class 3 with all different types of lines. And just when you are tired you come to the powerhouse dam

Rapids pool drop, almost everything can be boat scouted or by standing up to see over a horizon line. Wood is the biggest hazard but is easy to see.

This river is beyond beautiful with amazing whitewater. class 3-4, I'm not sure if I agree with the plus, maybe wood dependent or because of the enclosed canyon

Also, American whitewater has a pretty good description of the river.

2017 Run Notes from Fun Eli:
It may be rated class IV, but given the length of the run, the complete inaccessibility for most of the run, and the potential for unpredictable wood hazards, this should really be viewed as a run for class V boaters or people already stepping it up to class V. For most of the run, hiking out is just not an option.

If you swim and lose your boat or it breaks going over a drop full of water, it's going to be really bad! If you lose your paddle and don't have a breakdown, it's going to be really bad! If you get hurt and can't continue downstream, it's going to be really bad! While hiking out at the diversion dam is theoretically possible, you should not even consider it an option unless there is some sort of emergency, and should instead plan on taking out at or bellow the power plant.

We are in the early days of getting releases on this river, and access is dependent on showing the Snohomish PUD that we are a group of responsible boaters who are not going to cause them problems. While the releases were negotiated as part of the dam relicensing, this is a cooperative arrangement between the Snohomish PUD and the boating community, and a lot of what they do is simply because they are being generous. Releases on the Upper Sultan are by no means guaranteed, and they can make our access to the river as easy or difficult as they see fit.

Any incidents on the Upper Sultan reflect badly on the boating community as a whole. If someone were to get hurt or lose their boat and require a rescue, it would jeopardize access to this gem for the entire boating community. This is NOT a run for stepping up to class IV! This is a run for people who already paddle class V at least occasionally. There is no hiking out of the Upper Sultan! Also, keep in mind that given the potential for wood and the tight canyon walls, it's possible that at some point in the future we might encounter a must-run rapid (cannot be portaged) with wood hazards, turning an otherwise class IV rapid into a solid class V-V+. While this is a fantastic river, and will be a pleasure for even the most hard-core class V+ boater, you should really only be attempting this run if it is half a step BELOW what you normally paddle. It would be easy to get in trouble in such a remote, inaccessible gorge, and no one wants to see anyone get hurt or killed. Please use your head, and don't attempt this run unless you have the skills and physical stamina to paddle it safely.


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Beta Trail    
SubmissionBeta Submitted BySubmitted On
NateW's 5/8/2017 Run SubmissionNateW5/8/2017 10:25:00 PM
outdoorjunkie88's 4/24/2016 Run Submissionoutdoorjunkie884/24/2016 12:32:00 AM
Travisimo's 3/22/2011 Run SubmissionTravisimo3/22/2011 5:56:00 PM
James's 4/9/2007 Run SubmissionJames4/9/2007 8:26:00 PM

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