Difficulty I-II(IV)
Length Miles
Flow Range 60 - 300 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 29.2 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 04/02/2019 10:14 am

River Description

The Chippewa name for a waterfall is 'ka-ka-bi-ka,' thus this is yet another example of Anglo-redundancy (much like the many 'Bull Falls', where 'bull' is an Anglicised version of a French word for rapids or falls).

While the overall run is class I-II, the opening drops of this reach (the Kakabika Falls sequence) rate the parenthetical class IV. As a result, many advanced boaters will prefer to do this as a 'park-and-huck', carrying back up to their vehicles after running just the opening sequence (Kakabika Falls), while less experienced boaters may either carry down past Kakabika (enjoying the view) or use an alternate put-in (as described below).

From the put-in (road), the river soon enters an increasingly steep series of ledges, dropping almost 50' in the next quarter mile into a mini canyon. As it makes a hook turn to the right, it flumes down into a complicated mini-gorge culminating in a near vertical drop of about 8', with a wicked spline of rock in the landing zone to punish boaters who may be just slightly off their line. Eddies are tiny and rare through this sequence, and wood may be present in the confined course. (This may push into class V range at higher flows.)

Many that float this reach simply put-in below. The river is primarily moving water for the next several miles, followed by a nice long stretch of rockbed rapids culminating in Wolverine Falls, a boulderbed rapid.

An alternate put-in (to avoid Kakabika and the the lower gradient section) may be found from a logging road which is about four miles from Kakabika Falls by road, turn to the left and drive/carry a half mile to the river. This abbreviated section has a length of 4.9 miles and gradient figures of 37'/mile average, 62'/mile max.

Satellite image resolution is fantastic for the bulk of this reach. (Unfortunately, that does not include the put-in and the class IV mini-gorge section, and does not extend downstream of the indicated take-out.) On the "Map" tab, click 'Satellite', double-click near (not 'on') the take-out, zoom in to maximum resolution (without losing image), and do a 'virtual walk' of the run. Image quality on 'USGS Aerial' is pretty good (though nowhere near the 'Satellite' resolution), so you can switch to 'USGS Aerial' to 'walk' the rest of the run.

(Side note: I'm not completely convinced that 'Woverine Falls' is marked in the correct place on the topo maps. We once walked trails a good ways upstream of the take-out and saw nothing more than riffles and rips. On the other hand, looking at 'USGS Aerial', there does appear to be some rapids or falls a short distance downstream of the take-out. I have not been back up there to check that in person.)

Shuttle Length (full run): 9 miles.

Rapid Descriptions

Wolverine Falls (marked)

Class - N/A Mile - 9
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Topo maps show Wolverine Falls at this location. 0.7 mile upstream of the listed take-out. There is very little apparent on the 'USGS Aerial' or on 'Satellite' (best resolution) at this location. A friend and I hiked a good ways upstream from the take-out (river flow too low for a run), and saw nothing but riffles and rips. (Maybe we just didn't get far enough upstream? Or perhaps this is nothing more than a rapids, in truth. Can anyone provide any info? Add a comment!)

possible falls/rapids?

Class - N/A Mile - 10
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Downstream of the listed take-out, viewing the 'USGS Aerial' map, it appears there may be a rapis or falls, and it looks possibly more significant than what is in the area where Wolverine Falls is marked on the topo maps. Perhaps this is mislabeled (mislocated)? Or perhaps the aerial view deceives.

Anyone ever checked downstream and have a report?


Gage Descriptions

Cited gauge is located 12 river miles upstream, and represents regulated outflow from Cisco Lake Dam. Flows are 'managed' (in part or in total) to provide water to the Victoria Falls Dam (well downstream). Thus this stretch of river may flow at times when natural flow (rain) patterns would not have other rivers in the area at runnable levels (and vice versa). Few additional streams of significant size intervene, so the main flow in this reach is likely to be that from the gauge.

Two somewhat significant tributaries enter just downstream of Kakabika Falls, so flow through the remainder of the reach may be significantly greater than that shown by the gauge.

Gauge/flow analysis
(based on USGS data, 1945-2006)
Drainage area at gauge 50.7 sq.mi.
All time minimum daily mean flow 0.07 cfs (2004.08.24)
90% of time flow exceeds 0.9 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds 103 cfs
All time maximum daily mean flow 288 cfs (1951.05.01)
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness')
(under 3 is quite steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports






Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1196141 10/02/09 Rob
1200578 09/01/11 Rob Add 'abstract'.
1211763 04/02/19 Rob updated image position
1192534 02/21/09 n/a n/a