Stream: If you put in on Goat Creek with a similar configuration of trees as we found in 2017, you will find a small stream with numerous portages around logs and some loose boating. If you put in on the Cispus, you might have a quick portage or two before the slides start. Of the two approaches, I preferred the second. It requires about 30 minutes of downhill walking through open forest, the classic Northwest forest allowed for easy dragging.
Once you reach the Cispus, the stream is consolidated and there are a couple class III-IV rapids before the first horizon line which can be easily scouted on the right. From this point to a point less than 1/4 mile above Walupt Creek Falls the stream is continuous slides. All fun, all straight forward.
The trick is finding eddies, when there is enough water for the run to be fun, you need to scout eddy to eddy which can take a fair bit of time/effort. The first lap took us 4-5 hours, the second lap (once we knew the run) took us less than 15 minutes.
The scouting and eddy situation starts out friendly once on the Cispus and slowly works its way towards tricky as the slides bend around sharper corners. Nannie Creek enters the Cispus over the below pictured waterfall. This falls is a good indicator of having reached the finale, the rapid above it is the first corner that requires creativity to scout.
The river bends right below the Nannie Creek confluence (last easy eddy), back to the left and then drops away steeply into the finale. Once past the horizon line, paddlers are committed to nearly 1/2 mile of continuous slides. It took about an hour to scout the first time high on river right, which we were able to do thanks to Adam making a dicey eddy and pulling us in out of the slide one at a time. Once at Nannie Creek Falls, don't leave any eddies until you know how to get into the next one, or are comfortable committing to the next half mile of slides. The second trip we knew it was clear so didn't scout and it took just a couple minutes to run. The line for us was to stay center, justified to the inside of any corners.
The steepest part of the final 1/4 mile, from Adam Edward's perspective.
This final 1/2 mile rapid below Nannie Creek ranks up there with one of my favorite rapids of all time, I felt the effort of the run was totally justified by the largest scale class III-IV rapid Iv'e ever run. Giggles all around. The whitewater soon peters out and then ends where Walupt Creek falls enters on the left. There is a surf wave and rocky beach here, it makes for a nice lunch stop.
After taking in Walupt Creek Falls, it's time to head downstream. If you are taking the trail out (a little under 1/2 mile downstream of Walupt Creek), keep an eye on river left. After passing the second notable rockslide, there will be a 30 foot high cliff on river left visible downstream. Eddy out just below the cliff on river left. Walk up to the bench 10 feet above river level, you should see another rockslide at this point. Parallel the river along the bench until you come across a trail, follow this trail up to the vehicles.
If you are using the bridge take out, you will enter the swamp a short distance below the final rockslide. Downstream progress will become difficult for 1/4 mile as you portage through the swamp. The river re-consolidates a short distance above the bridge.
Flows: We ran this twice in June 2017, The Cispus was flowing from snowmelt with bumps from significant rain. June 16 was a fun, friendly flow. June 18 was a little lower, but still worth it. Word is 3,000 is medium, give or take 1,000 cfs to get the range of low to high, 500 cfs or more than that in either direction are pushing into the distant edges of runnable. Eddies are the limiting factor on this run, they were scarce at low flows.
Access: The standard route into the area (NF-23 out of Randle) was not passible due to the road being washed out by the Cispus River near Blue Lake. We took NF-21 paralleling Johnson Creek (which looked like it was at a friendly flow). For that route, leaving Hwy 12, take NF-21 16 miles and turn left toward Walupt Lake. Cross the Cispus 1.5 miles later. This would be the preferred take out, except there is a 1/4 mile long portage through a swamp if you choose that route. We chose to continue another 1.7 miles to a trailhead, where you can hike about 3/4 of a mile uphill at the end of the day to avoid the portage.
Bridge Take Out: 46.4146, -121.5244
Trail Take Out: 46.4234, -121.5011
To get to the put in return to the bridge across the Cispus and head back towards NF-21. If you have a high clearance vehicle you may choose to take a short cut shortly before reaching NF-21 on NF-2152. If you have a Subaru, continue to NF-21 and turn right. Continue 2.9 miles and turn right again on NF-2150 (the road becomes unmanaged). Another 1 mile and turn right onto NF-2152, and in another 0.6 miles left onto NF-016 (the road can be rough). In 0.9 miles there will be a spur road going off to the left, and in another hundred yards you will notice a small marshy-pond to the left, park here. Follow the rivulet leaving the marshy-pond down to the Cispus, the distance is under 1 mile. You will know you are close when you reach a second marshy-pond area.
If you want to put in on Goat Creek, just continue past the marshy-pond to the end of the road. Goat Creek is visible from there.
Hike in to the Cispus: 46.4494, -121.5144
Walk in to Goat Creek: 46.4585, -121.5102
Paddlers: Adam Edwards, Whitney Butler, Brandon Lake, Priscilla Macy, Jacob Cruser