Bear Creek (NF Skykomish River)

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Bear Creek (NF Skykomish River) Canyoneering Canyoning Caving
 For other features with similar names, see Bear Creek (disambiguation)
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Bear Creek (NF Skykomish River) Banner.jpg

Difficulty:3C2 III (v3a3 IV)
Raps:‌7, max ↨80ft
Overall:5.5-8h ⟷2.3mi
Approach:1.5-2h ⟷1.1mi ↑600ft
Descent:4-6h ⟷1.2mi ↑600ft
Exit:0min ⟷0ft ↑0ft
Condition Reports:
12 Sep 2023

"Water was flowing at a decent rate still, so that was good. Not a whole lot of interest going on in the canyon. Not overly scenic, no to very few jump

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Best season:


Bear Creek is a charming canyon off of the North Fork Skykomish River. The canyon features shimmering blue pools and some optional jump platforms to scramble to for those who want to add a bit more excitement to their day. The day starts and ends at the beautiful Bear Creek Falls (ironically not on Bear Creek at all, at the confluence with the Skykomish Rver). The falls is a unique geologic feature of its own. If you time your trip right in mid to late September, you may see salmon swimming up the falls!

Bear Creek is split into an upper and lower section by an easy 0.6 mile creek walk. While the creek itself is not very narrow, the walls of the canyon are quite steep, and escape from the canyon above the lower section would be difficult.


Getting There

As of July 2023, access is only possible via Beckler River Rd/Jack Pass due to a washout on the Index-Galena Rd that occurred in 2006. After nearly two decades, the road is due to be reopened in fall of 2023, which will make access to this canyon much easier. Beta will need updating at that time.

High clearance vehicles are not needed to access the canyon via Beckler Road, but the gravel road is rough in spots and may be tough for some vehicles.

The Sultan Park & Ride is a great spot to meet and/or carpool in the mornings. Roadside parking at the canyon is limited. Carpooling is encouraged to keep vehicles at 3 or less.

From the Sultan Park & Ride, follow Hwy 2 for 26.5 miles, taking a left onto Beckler Road (47.71459, -121.34506). The road is paved for the first 7 miles, before turning to gravel and becoming NF-65 road. Continue another 5.6 miles until you reach the 4-way junction at Jack Pass. There are two left turns here. Take the furthest left turn to stay on NF-65 going downhill. If you are going uphill, you took the wrong turn. Continue down NF-65 for 4.8 miles until you reach Bear Creek Falls (47.89284, -121.38175), which is not visible from the road. Park along the side of the road.


The off trail approach is about 1.1 miles total and takes an average of 1.5-2hrs.

From the road, find a use trail down to Bear Creek Falls. If you have time, it’s worth taking a few minutes to drop your packs and scramble over the polished rock above the falls to have a look at the unique canyon that the river flows through.

Cross the river in the shallow gravels below the falls to the Bear Creek confluence. The river is typically no more than knee deep. Cross Bear Creek and begin bushwhacking up the east side of the creek, topping out onto flatter ground after 10-15 minutes. From here, wind your way around the many fallen logs and trees through mostly open forest for about 1 hour, paralleling the creek and getting the occasional glimpse of the canyon below. A few hundred yards before the drop-in, there is a vine maple thicket that must be pushed through, although it is relatively short. Once through the thicket, begin traversing down the hillside towards the creek to the drop-in. You should be able to hike directly into the creek bed. Suit up here.


Special Notes

DCL = Down Canyon Left

DCR = Down Canyon Right

Check all pools for depth/hazards prior to jumping!

Please do not add webbing to unlinked bolts. Debris can catch on these anchors during flood events and damage the anchor and/or the rock. Groups should be familiar with safe rigging for unlinked anchors.

Upper Section

The upper section is made up of 3 back to back rappels.

R1: 40’ from unlinked bolts DCL into a pool. This drop has been jumped from a ledge about 15’ from the anchor.

R2: 35’ from unlinked bolts DCR. After this rappel, traverse behind the falls and scramble over canyon left to access the R3 anchor.

R3: 80’ from unlinked bolts DCL. This rappel is partially in the flow and is very slippery. As of 2023 one of the bolts here had sustained impact damage from rockfall, but still seemed strong and was not loose.

The pool below R3 is very deep! This pool has been jumped by scrambling up the rock DCR of the pool and jumping from a ledge.

Creekwalk: 0.6mi

Lower Section

R4: 25’ from a single bolt DCL. You must swim through a deep pool to access this anchor. Space is limited to two people.

After R4, you’ll immediately come to a logjam 25’ above a pool. To access R5, scramble up from the logjam and over the mossy rockface DCR. Continue scrambling around back towards the falls and look for the single bolt in the rock just over the edge.

R5: 80’ from a single bolt DCR. This is a dry rappel that goes into an overhang. Advanced rappellers might consider using the R5 anchor to access the optional R5b anchor, which is an advanced rappel directly in the water course. To access the R5b anchor, rappel from the R5 anchor DCL about 15' to the lip of the falls.

R5b: Optional 70’ rappel from unlinked bolts DCR. This rappel puts you directly in the watercourse and rappellers must also navigate an overhang while in the flow.

R6: 70’ from unlinked bolts DCL. The bottom section of this rappel cannot be seen from the anchor.

R7: 15’ nuisance rappel from a logjam

  • R1 from below
  • R5 from below
  • Damaged bolt at R3
  • Exit

    Hike/swim the last few hundred feet to confluence with the NF Skykomish River. If you have time, it’s fun to check out Bear Creek Falls while still in your wetsuits, and do some jumps into the deep pool below.

    Red tape

    Beta sites

    Trip reports and media


    This canyon was first descended on 9/25/2021 by Jake Huddleston, Madeline Hwang, Joe Cruikshank, Tiffanie Lin, Haruka-James Clay Lipscomb, Kevin Steffa, Michelle Nilles, and Michael Peterson.


    Information provided by automated processes. KML map by (unknown). Main photo by (unknown). Authors are listed in chronological order.

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