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White Salmon River
The White Salmon River is born in the glacial ice and snow fields of Mt. Adams. It passes through the marsh/meadows of Trout Lake and becomes a free-flowing stream as it passes through the little town of Trout Lake. But at that stage it's surface volume is less than 40% of it's eventual volume.
As it passes through several miles of steep-sided gorges with limited access it is augmented by subsurface flow in the lava tubes it intersects. In fact, much of the river's path follows a series of intersecting collapsed lava tubes similar to those at Ice Caves and Natural Bridges to the west of Trout Lake.One of the best places to see this character of the river is at BZ Falls where several springs emerge from the vertical rock walls and flow across ledges to fall into the rushing river below.
BZ Falls is at the end of an easy upstream hike on a well-worn footpath and boardwalk from the BZ Corners raft launch path through a narrow, incredibly beautiful, shear-walled basalt gorge with the river literally crashing through it. Along the way you may find an air-conditioning vent in the lava rock wall beside the trail. In the spring the high river flow becomes a literal roaring jet of water in some sections, and the waterfall at the end of the trail is so narrow even kayaks rarely attempt it's 15 foot drop.
By the time the river reaches the cataract at Husum Falls it is at nearly full volume as it crashes and froths over one of the more spectacular sights in the whole of the Columbia Gorge region. The view from the SR-141 steel bridge crossing the river is the perfect vantage for watching kayaks and rafts plunge over the falls into a bubbling cauldron of frothing white water below. The recent dislodgment of a fallen tree that lodged in the falls has changed the hydraulics of the falls, making it more treacherous, but it's likely to be run when the river levels drop about mid-summer.
Immediately downriver and directly across the street from Wet Planet is the roaring cascade of Rattlesnake Falls. During the warmth of summer you can regularly watch rafts and kayaks "buck" the falls, and occasionally you'll find someone throwing themselves into the flow and riding the wave on a "river board".
A couple of miles south is a peaceful waypoint for the rushing river as it backs up in Northwestern Lake behind Condit Dam. The lake is a perfect place for a quiet paddle or peaceful fishing from the bank or small boat. The upper reaches of the lake where the boat launch is located is silting up, so passage is very limited to shallow draft boats. The dam has been scheduled for removal for several years now in compliance with federal regulations for salmon migration, but that hasn't happened yet and it's not clear when it will.
Beyond the dam the river rushes another few miles through a limited access canyon to a quiet ending in a calm estuary at the mouth of the river where it meets the dammed up Columbia under the White Salmon Bridge on WA SR-14. This peaceful end of the river is a very popular fishing spot during salmon and steelhead runs.