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Difficulty I-III
Length 9.5 Miles
Flow Range 1000 - 2500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 12 hours ago 256 [CFS] 👍 ℹ️ ⚠️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/18/2019 3:52 am

River Description

This 9.49 mile stretch from the NF 246 turnoff to Burgdorf down to the Chinook Campground and bridge can be divided into three stretches, each with something for everyone up to the class III Spring flows, typically June and perhaps into early July. This stretch of the Secesh seems to have been overlooked by all the guidebooks, perhaps because it isn’t full of gnar, and it runs for a limited season. However, it is perfect for getting newer boaters into the sport, with one part that is mostly swiftwater for the newbies, another part that gives an intro to class I-II boating, and section that’s a perfect intro to creeking for the aspiring boater with class III skills. Much of the more challenging upper stretch can be scouted from the adjacent gravel road which lies on Forest Service land. The middle and lower stretches are easier, but mostly traverse private lands, so pre-scouting is more difficult. In June when it’s flowing, the water is snowmelt-cold. Though Burgdorf Hotsprings should theoretically contribute some heat upstream, it doesn’t seem to turn it into Hawaii. 

This section can broken down thusly:

Section 1, 3 miles, class III

The Upper, is from the NF246 turnoff to the next bridge, approximately 3 miles. This is the “creek” section, with fast-moving class II and a few spots that push to class III. It’s about 55ft/mi average, so it keeps moving. A good eddy turn is a must here, as there is wood, and there are no calm/flat water stretches, it is continuous. Therefore, it’s recommended to have class III skills for an incident-free run here. As of this writing, there is just one logjam portage, visible from the road where there’s a concrete barrier to avoid cars becoming boats. The stretch would be tight for a tandem inflatable, but could probably accommodate a single. We explored this in hard-shell kayaks, and though it gave my 15 year old some nerves due to the wood and continuous nature, it was great practice. This section is through lodgepole forest, with no development except for the adjacent road. It feels pretty isolated in many spots, despite the road.

You might be able to add in some more distance by heading up NF246 towards Burgdorf, it looks runnable but we did not explore it. It could be very woody, so beware.

Section 2, 4.5 miles, class I/II

The Middle, is demarcated by two bridges that span mostly private land for about 4.5 miles. It’s about 30ft per mile average, starting out with more gradient then flattening into swiftwater towards the end.  It’s got some class II and class I, interspersed with switftwater. There is lots of wood around, so you can’t fully take it easy, though as of this writing there were no portages needed. It appears that someone does maintenance to keep this stretch open. There are a mix of mountain views and cabin backyards on this stretch. 

Given Idaho’s new, stringent trespass laws, you’ll probably want to stay on the roadway or close to the bridges for put in and takeout. There may be an alternative place to put in upstream of the first bridge on forest land, but we did not scout that. The second bridge, though surrounded by private land, has a small footpath on both sides that appears to be within the road right of way. If taking out here, the river-right downstream side may be easiest. Alternatively, you can just run the extra 2 miles of swiftwater to take out on public lands at Chinook Campground.

Section 3, 2 miles, class I

The Lower is a perfect swiftwater introduction, at 2 miles and about 25 ft/mi drop from the second bridge to Chinook Campground. There are a few class I riffles but mostly it’s meandering swiftwater with mountain views. There’s still wood here, and the river doesn’t slow down, so you’ll want basic paddling skills to avoid logjams and such. It’s only about 30 minutes float from the second bridge to Chinook, so it’s good for the first timer or paddle boarder who wants a shorter stretch.  Then if you’re camped at Chinook, you can land right at your camp. Otherwise, you can proceed down to the bridge where the Loon Lake trail crosses the Secesh.

Beware that this bridge marks the start of the Class V canyon section of the Secesh, so you’ll want to take off here unless you’re ready for (a lot) more action.

Rapid Descriptions


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Idaho Proposes Registration Fee for Non-Motorized Boats

John Gangemi

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Idaho is proposing a $13 registration fee for non-motorized boats greater than 7 feet in length. Under this registration fee proposal all kayaks and rafts on Idaho waters would be required to have a registration sticker fixed to the bow of each boat greater than 7 feet in length. Stickers would not be transferable between boats. Out of state boaters would be required to comply as well.

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Can You Taste Victory?

American Whitewater

FERC revokes Preliminary Permit for
hydropower project on Boundary Creek in
Northern Idaho.

Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1212944 06/18/19 Thomas O'Keefe n/a
1212950 06/18/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1212951 06/18/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated stats
1212946 06/18/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated name
1212945 06/18/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated name
1212947 06/18/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated name
1212949 06/18/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated name