Green River Gorge
A dozen miles northeast of Enumclaw on Highway 169, Green River Gorge Conservation Area is a 14-mile-long protected area that includes narrow gorges, white-water rapids, wildflowers, fossils, and caves along the Green River. Several state parks have been developed along the river, the most dramatic being the Hanging Gardens Area (access is via S.E. 386th St. /Franklin-Enumclaw Rd., ask rangers at Flaming Geyser State Park for specific directions), where a trail leads to the fern-covered cliffs lining the river.
Flaming Geyser State Park (S.E. Green Valley Rd. and S.E. Flaming Geyser Rd., www.parks.wa.gov) occupies several big bends in the Green River four miles southeast of Black Diamond on Flaming Geyser Road. Old coal-mining test holes produced two geysers, one burning an eight-inch flame and the other sending methane gas bubbling up through a stream. Enjoy hiking, picnicking, fishing, boating, and a playground; no camping is allowed. This is a take-out point for kayakers and rafters floating the Green River Gorge, and the quiet waters below here (at least in the summer) are popular with inner tubers.
Kanaskat-Palmer State Park (eleven miles northeast of Enumclaw on Farman Rd., www.parks.wa.gov) is another popular play area on the Green River, with fishing (especially for steelhead in the winter), camping, and trails through the riverside forests. Several access points in the park are used by river rafters and kayakers heading down the gorge. Because of several Class III–IV stretches, this part of the river is not for beginners.
Nolte State Park (six miles northeast of Enumclaw, www.parks.wa.gov, open mid-Apr.–Sept.) is a favorite hangout for picnicking, swimming, and fishing. The main attraction is Deep Lake and the 1.4-mile trail that offers a pleasant stroll around this 39-acre lake.
Rafting Green River
The Green River Gorge is a 14-mile stretch of river north of Enumclaw rated Class III–IV, including many well-known rapids with names like Nozzle, Pipeline, and Ledge Drop. The river has a short spring season, generally March and April, since a dam holds the water back for Tacoma’s water supply the rest of the year. Catch a ride aboard the guided tours offered by River Recreation (800/464-5899, www.riverrecreation.com), which offers 12-mile trips down the gorge from Kanasket-Palmer State Park to Flaming Geyser State Park, plus a riverside lunch spread.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition