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Difficulty I-IV
Length 10 Miles
Gauge Madison River bl Ennis Lake nr McAllister MT
Flow Range 1 - 6 FT
Flow Rate as of: 44 minutes ago 3.3 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 07/20/2017 3:35 pm

River Description

Beartrap Canyon is a highly scenic whitewater run through the Lee Metcalf Wilderness with a reasonable road shuttle. The run features some great technical Class II and III rapids leading up to Kitchen Sink, a standout powerful class IV rapid that may be class V at high flows located approximately halfway down the 10 mile run. Below Kitchen sink more fun rapids await before the gradient eases and the takeout is reached.  

The run begins immediately downstream of the dam that forms Ennis Lake. During times of high inflows the section between the dam and the powerhouse contain some great Class III technical rapids, including a double drop rapid in a relatively narrow pinch that might be class IV at high flows. When flows drop the dam is capable of rendering this section too low to paddle. Below the powerhouse flows are more likely to be found, but the dam does pulse flows so be aware that flows may change dramatically.  


Rapid Descriptions


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11 years ago

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Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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No Accident Reports



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Beartrap Canyon to Reopen After Boulder Damages Dam (MT)

2010-09-03 00:00:00-04
Kevin Colburn

PPL Montana will reopen the road that provides access to its Madison Dam and public recreation areas immediately downstream in the Bear Trap Canyon for the Labor Day weekend. The road was closed after equipment atop the west side of the dam was damaged by a falling boulder from the wall of BearTrapCanyon early Monday (8/30)

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Montana National Forest Proposes New River Protections

2017-07-31 15:58:00-04
Kevin Colburn

The Custer-Gallatin National Forest has proposed new protections for 18 outstanding streams in Montana through their forest planning process. The Forests propose to manage these streams as “eligible” for Wild and Scenic designation, along with 12 other rivers and streams previously determined to be eligible. The Forests’ analysis is solid in our view and merits appreciation from paddlers, though there is room for a bit of improvement. They are accepting comments through August 12, 2017.

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Flathead River Tributaries Get Protection for Christmas (MT)

2019-01-11 14:45:00-05
Kevin Colburn

Wild rivers and their enthusiasts got some good news with the release of the new 15-20 year Forest plan for the Flathead National Forest. The decision newly protects 22 streams as eligible for Wild and Scenic designation, based in large part on the advocacy of American Whitewater and our awesome partners and members in Montana. These protections will serve as a vital steppingstone to the designation of some of our Nation’s most outstanding headwater streams. 

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Appeal Challenging Montana Navigability Is Denied

2003-07-28 00:00:00-04
Jason Robertson

On May 28 the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by Mountain States Legal Foundation who filed a lawsuit in June 2001 alleging the 1985 Montana Stream Access Law violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution to regulate who floated over their land.

The decision thereby protects Montana's Stream access law and public rights of navigation throughout the State.

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River Recreationists Win Big in Montana!

2001-01-09 00:00:00-05
Jason Robertson

The Missoulian newspaper reported on January 5th, 2001 that U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell dismissed a case brought by the Mountain States Legal Foundation challenging public recreational rights on Montana’s rivers and streams. This is a huge win for boaters and fishermen!

David Schroeder


Kevin Colburn