Snohomish River Riding the Tides

by  redtandem
  • Cady Park put-in

    Cady Park put-in

  • An observer

    An observer

  • mid-way downstream

    mid-way downstream

  • Old growth pilings creating new growth

    Old growth pilings creating new growth

  • From old tree into new tree

    From old tree into new tree

A self-supported trip created by redtandem

Trip Overview

By timing our trip with tide tables we had the river flowing our way, first downstream and then back upstream. The Snohomish is a big river, draining a wide section of the Cascade Mts. through its two main tributaries, the Skykomish and the Snoqualmie, which meet 6 miles above the city of Snohomish. Our put-in was Cady Park in Snohomish, which has a free parking and a steep concrete boat launch that now blocks the launch of trailered boats (there's a new launch for them a half-mile upstream). There is no restroom at the launch site, but a 5-minute walk down the footpath along the river will take you to one on First Street, across from a cornucopia of restaurants and antique shops. At the bottom of the ramp we moved our canoe to a patch of mud alongside for the actual launch. We launched 2 hours before low tide as listed for "Snohomish River -- Pacific Hwy Bridge," and had a current of 1/2 to 1 kt flowing downstream. High tide a few hours earlier had been 10' and low tide was listed at 3' plus of course the natural waterflow of the river, which was on the low side. You can get river flow data from, which will graph results for whatever time period you want to examine. A low reading is good for a round-trip journey like ours, since the incoming tide pushes further and more strongly upstream. It was a Saturday in October but we only encountered two motor boats. The river runs between farmland on both sides once you pass the Hwy 9 bridge 3/4 mi. below the put-in, and our main companions were waterfowl and eagles. We have seen numerous harbor seals lower in the Snohomish, but none came up quite this far. There are an amazing number of old pilings lining the shore on both sides, relics from when loggers floated enormous amounts of old growth timber down the river to the mills of Everett, tieing them up to these piers as they waited their turn to be turned into houses, furniture and/or toothpicks. Most of these piers are in a state of regenerative decay, launching lush new growth of bushes and even trees in the rotting humus of their wood. At Rotary Park in the Lowell section of Everett we pulled out to enjoy a picnic lunch. Unfortunately the restroom was locked for the pandemic, and there are no picnic table within sight of the boat launch so we made do with sitting on low concrete walls with our canoe kneeling pads doubling as seat cushions. On our return upriver we had the incoming tide pushing us at maybe 1/4 kt, not much but at least we didn't have to fight the river. It was heading from a low of 3' to an eventual high of 10' later in the day. By the time we got back to Snohomish the current was minimal, though things in the water were still floating upstream. All in all it was a quiet and easy 12-mile paddle thanks to the light push from the tide each way.


Be sure to check your tide tables for the nearest point of reference, the Pacific Hwy Bridge between Everett and Marysville. Since the river is wide and open, it's best to choose a day with quiet winds. A wind from the NW will help assist with the return when the tidal current is weaker as it pushes against the normal flow of the river.

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 10/3/2020
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water, River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location