Boulder Creek, Idaho, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Yaak River near Troy MT|
|usgs-12304500||1250 - 1900 cfs||IV-V||65h35m||102 cfs (too low)|
Boulder Creek is a too-often overlooked steep creek that enters the Kootenai River at the Montana/Idaho Border. The creek boasts one of the best 20-30 foot waterfalls in the region, Magnolia Falls.
Warm up rapids lead to a double ledge drop called Red Lobster, more rapids lead to a tricky waterfall called Grunge Poser, and still more rapids lead to a walled-in gorge that culminates in an unrunnable waterfall. Portage the gorge on river left following a small drainage, and do your homework so you know where to take out. A seal launch or rappel will drop you back into the creek just upstream of the classic Magnolia Falls. At low and moderate flows the falls offers an autoboof flake, but at high water you have to be a bit more creative to avoid a trip behind the curtain. If you walk magnolia be prepared for a short rappel on river left. Immediately below Magnolia Falls is a drop often portaged and them some more fun rapids before you reach the Kootenai River.
Access is via road from either Troy, MT or Bonners Ferry, ID, but the shuttle is extremely long around to the far side of the Kootenai River. There appears to be no public access to the Kootenai River in the vicinity of the confluence with Boulder Creek. Paddlers have hiked back upstream high on Boulder's river right to an access road that parallels the gorge, while others have set a shuttle far downstream on the Kootenai. A good option is to paddle just a couple hundred yards down the Kootenai and then hike up to the left to connect with a trail/road that leads up to the shuttle road at its closest point to the River in that area.
**Due to flooding in December, 2015, this run has become much more dangerous. Numerous log chokes and fresh debris has created an unstable river bed that presents boating hazards. It's advisable to get local information before attempting this run.**
Boulder can be done in concert with the nearby Yaak River, Kootenai Falls, the Pack, or you can head north to Boundary and Smith creeks. Prospect Creek is a nice halfway home run for Missoula paddlers.
Look for roughly 1250 to 1900 cfs on the Yaak Gage.
Boulder Creek was threatened by a hydropower proposal in 2010 that would have dewatered it. American Whitewater fought the proposal, and the proposal failed.