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Difficulty:3C II (v4a3 II)
Raps:4-8, max ↨125ft
Red Tape:No permit required
14 May 2023
"Great day in the canyon. High flow was very fun.
Apr-Nov, BEST May-Jul
Located right off the highway, with easy parking, just 40 minutes from Seattle, Change Creek is a highly traveled canyon. While neither the most scenic nor the most ambitious canyon in the region, it is a high value creek with rapid-fire rappels that provides a fun day for canyoners of all levels much of the year, thanks to the low elevation and small watershed.
With abundant natural anchors, Change Creek has a history of accumulating unsightly webbing in many places. Webbing has been found washed away, and areas around trees used as anchors have become eroded. A handful of individuals as well as organizations that teach canyoning have worked together to clean up rotten webbing, and establish low-impact anchors that still allow for options to rappel in the flow, or choose a dry line depending on your objectives. Change Creek is used frequently for teaching and training - informally by individuals as well as by organizations that teach canyoning and SAR teams. Having multiple options at each obstacle is important both for training purposes and for reducing the need for ad hoc anchors.
To help steward this important natural resource for everyone to enjoy please:
- Do not remove any anchors that are listed in the beta
- Use the anchors in the beta - do not leave behind ad hoc anchors
- Replace damaged webbing & hardware
- Leave unlinked bolts unlinked to prevent unnecessary flood damage
Banner image by Tommy Kelly on 1 May 2016.
The waterflow reference checkpoint is at the base of the last rappel. It can be seen & examined from the flagged trail. For a closer look it can be accessed by bushwhacking down the slope to the streambed.
From Interstate 90 Eastbound, take Exit 38. Turn right onto SE Homestead Valley Road. Just past the bridge over the South Fork Snoqualmie River, the road curves to the left. After 0.6 mi (1 km), proceed to the parking area on the left (northeast) side of the road.
The approach hike will probably take 45-60 minutes. From the parking area, cross the road and proceed up the Deception Crags Trail, just northwest (DCL - looking Down the Canyon, on the Left) of Change Creek. Follow the trail under the old railroad bridge high above (now the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail).
On the other side of the bridge the trail splits. Most people will be following the well-worn right fork to the popular rock climbing area. Instead turn left on to the lesser-worn trail which drops towards the creek. Start following the brightly colored marker-tape uphill, shadowing the creek the whole way. The final rappel of the route (which is used for water level reference) can be seen from halfway up the trail. Take care to follow the flagging. Social trails have been blocked with branches, but are still visible. Following the flagged trail will help prevent erosion of the loose slope. The trail continues to switch back-and-forth and vary in pitch, until you're lead straight into the creek above the first rappel.
Pools are shallow and do not offer any jumping opportunities.
- R1: 30ft from a boulder DCR into shallow pool. A fixed deviation is available to manage rope abrasion and/or avoid the bulk of the flow in high flow. A climb around is possible on the right.
- R2: 50ft from bolts DCR. Please leave these bolts unlinked.
- R3: There are two options - one with more flow and one with less. Both are accessed by first downclimbing canyon right amongst the logs. Once at the top of the rappel, the bolts canyon center are to your left, and the webbing anchor canyon right is to your right. Either option requires rope abrasion management over sharp rock.
- Option 1: 70ft from unlinked bolts in the center, into a shallow pool.
- Option 2: 70ft from webbing slung around the root ball of a large tree. Be sure to inspect the full length of webbing. When flows are low, this option allows you to rappel in the flow, while the bolted line is drier.
- R4: 15ft from bolts linked with webbing DCR. This leads you to a second set of anchors DCR (R4a), and can be rigged as a sloping traverse line or as a rebelay. Alternatively, 90ft will take you to the top of R5, skipping R4a. Start the rappel in the flow, then trend DCL to avoid the log jam at the bottom.
- R4a: 70ft from bolts linked with webbing DCR. Start the rappel in the flow, then trend DCL to avoid the log jam at the bottom.
- R5: 125ft 5-tier waterfall from center unlinked bolts. These bolts are very exposed, and using a traverse line from a log is recommended for access. In high flows, optionally rappel 15ft to a large ledge (using bolts or any available log). From the ledge, walk DCL to find a 2-bolt anchor for a 100' dry rappel.
- R6: 60ft from log & tree roots DCR. This anchor is directed around the rock, into the flow. For a dry rappel, use the anchor around a large cedar - beware of sharp edges, and consider rigging a traverse line to access the anchor. A climb around is possible DCL.
- R7: 30ft from unlinked bolts DCR (on the wall set back from the edge). For those uncomfortable with slippery, sloping terrain, this rappel can be extended to about 80' to connect to the top of R8 as a rebelay. Optionally, skip the rappel and downclimb DCL.
- R8: 30ft from bolts DCL.
Continue down the creek until the slopes on DCL flatten out. Exit the creek DCL, pick up the trail, and follow it 0.25 miles back to the road.
The parking area where Change Creek passes under the road does not require a Discovery Pass.
- CanyoneeringNorthwest.com : Change Creek
- Super Amazing Map : Change Creek
- Northwest Waterfall Database
- Aaron's Waterfall World