Kootenai Creek - trailside

Kootenai Creek, Montana, US



Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 1.25 Miles
Avg. Gradient 250 fpm

Last Slide

Last Slide
Photo of Josh by Nick taken 05/13/02 @ Very LOW

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Bitterroot River near Darby MT
usgs-12344000 900 - 10000 cfs IV-V 00h32m 245 cfs (too low)

River Description

Kootenai Creek is the most accessible and high quality creek run in the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys. The creek starts high in the Bitterroot Mountains and flows through a spectacular but low gradient glacial canyon before the bottom drops out about 1.25 miles upstream from the canyon mouth. The upper part of the run is studded with nice class III and IV drops seperated by short sections of calmer water. Then, the final quarter mile or so falls in a nearly continuous series of 3-10 foot bedrock drops. All these drops are fun and runnable, and an occassional eddy exists between them. The highlight for many is the 10 foot falls which requires a good boof and a river-right line to avoid the room of doom on the left. The bedrock nature of the creek and its easy access make it a staple for many area paddlers.

The Kootenai Creek trailhead is located a short drive up N Kootenai Creek Road from Highway 93 and is well signed. You can't miss the big sawtooth ridges above the canyon. From the trailhead, hike up until you get tired or run out of gradient and put on. Be sure to carefully scout for wood on your hike up!

In 2006 new signs went up at the trailhead preventing people from legally taking out right below the steep stuff as was the historical practice. The first bridge downstream has been made intentionally inaccessible by landowners who filled in the easement with brush.  Access at the bridge is legal though based on the new MT stream access law.  It is strongly recommended that paddlers either take out IMMEDIATELY below the last major drop and before the slot canyon (still on private property - access at your own risk), or more preferably at a bridge downstream.  DO NOT take out after the final slot canyon on the historic takeout trail.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-05-13 12:16:41


Stream team editor

Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

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April 29 2007 (4221 days ago)
Robin CarletonDetails
Want to see more photos of Kootenai Creek? Check out my website. www.infinitymountain.com Have fun!

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