Saturday, July 23, 2011

Middle Fork Nooksack River Diversion Dam 07/10/2011

While on the way home from my first visit to the Goat Mountain trail off the Mount Baker Highway, I followed advice from Aaron to go visit the Diversion Dam on the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River.

This was my first visit to the Middle Fork Nooksack River Road. It's in great condition fr the first few miles - which is all I needed to drive before I located the spur road to the diversion dam.

The diversion dam was reportedly built to divert water from the Nooksack River and into Lake Whatcom... for the purpose of ensuring Lake Whatcom will be around for a long time as it is a staple water source for Bellinghamsters.

The spur road descends about 400 feet to the dam over the course of .75 mile or so. The road is heavily eroded from water, making it impossible for vehicle travel (except the uber-4x4's, ORV's or maybe a tank). It doesn't matter though, because the road is blocked with a gate.

I was surprised to find the bridge over the river and I was surprised at the size and complexity of this diversion dam. Much more to it that I would have anticipated and I really wish I had someone with me who could provide more info about the design. Why is it so complex? So intriguing. Such a mystery.

The river channels into a pretty deep gorge after it passes by the dam. It's hard to tell from the bridge whether the gorge is natural or whether it was created/modified as part of the dam construction.

I think I pinpointed where the diverted water goes into the tunnel, but it's just a guess... and I have no idea how large of a diameter the tunnel is. Six feet? 20 feet? 50 feet? No idea.

Also, where is the other end of this tunnel? There must be an access point at the other end, right? Somebody had to build something down there... where is it? Better add that adventure to my "Rainy Day Dumpster Dive To Do List".

This was a neat little adventure to an area that is new to me and I'm looking forward to more adventures and explorations further out the Middle Fork road in the future.

Here's a video with most of the above pictures, but also some real video footage I recorded while at the dam.

Happy Trails!



  1. The questions you asked about the MFDivDam are answerable, some on our website:

    The flow away from the dam goes SSW, and discharges at the creek along Park Road just W of Highway 9, from where it flows into the Lake Whatcom Reservoir.

  2. Thanks for the comment Marian. I have come across your website previously.

  3. the dam is pretty simple just some angled concrete to divert the water over t one side and a uge steel plate that can be raised or lowered depending on water demand andthe level f the river if you travel dwn hyw 9 to park rd do fown just a little ways and pull off n the right there is a trail that leads to the old lake whactom railway yu walk right ver where the pipeline fromthe middle fork empys into the make it used to be called mirrorlake but some people call it mud lake because it turns dirty if the middle fork is dirty the lake is full of small trout

  4. Greetings - I am looking to use an image of the Diversion for a small journal article I've written. That article seeks to bring attention to the need to remove the diversion. If I provide appropriate photo credits and link to your blog, may I have permission to use an image for my article?