Slate Creek (Tributary of St. Joe River) - Old Miner's Cabin (Fritz Creek) to St. Joe Confluence

Slate Creek (Tributary of St. Joe River), Idaho, US


Old Miner's Cabin (Fritz Creek) to St. Joe Confluence

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 85 fpm
Max Gradient 110 fpm

Slate Creek

Slate Creek
Photo by Chris Gorman @ 2.5

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level

River Description

Slate Creek runs through a very deep and steep canyon with a narrow and channelized stream bed. The rapids are mostly slides and steep ledge drops into very sticky holes. Logs are always a serious hazard, so don't run anything blind. Plan on plenty of out-of-boat scouting. The most difficult rapids can be portaged.

The section is generally runnable from early April to mid June, but the run off in the area varies greatly from year to year. Snow may impede access in the early season. Check with Avery Ranger Station for current conditions on the road numbers mentioned in the logistics section below.

The following maps are highly recommmeded:
Forest Service - St. Joe National Forest / Coeur d' Alene National Forest.
USGS - Mastadon Mountain 7.5 minute quadrangle.

From Interstate 90, exit at the Wallace, Idaho visitor's center. Work your way south through town following Placer Creek up a small canyon to road 456 (Placer Creek Road). Take 456 over Moon Pass (4,931') and down the N. Fork of the St. Joe to the town of Avery. From Avery, go roughly 7.5 miles downriver, past the Avery ranger station (not to be confused with the town of Avery) about 1 mile to the Slate Creek bridge takeout.

To get to the putin, take road 225 directly north of the Avery Ranger Station (look for the garbage dumpsters opposite the ranger station). Here the road climbs a steep open hillside to the canyon rim. Watch out for logging trucks on this section--they will crush you!!! On the rim, a large powerline crosses the canyon. Here the road forks and begins dropping. Where the road meets creek level there is a small turn out to the left which leads to a primitive campground with the ruins of an old miner's cabin. This is the putin.

While 4 wheel drive is not absolutely necessary for this run, it is recommended as the roads can be sloppy with snow and mud and small rock slides are not uncommon on the section just before the put in. If you're coming from Moscow or the South, best access is via St. Maries, Idaho. It's about 40 miles (all pavement) from St. Maries to Avery Ranger Station. Watch for Slate Creek to the north about five miles upriver from the Marble Creek interpretive site.

Planning Tools:
Forest Service Camping Guide
Gradient Chart - (by river mile)
Gradient Chart - (comparative)
Map of Idaho Panhandle
River Flow Forcast
Sattlelite Imagery
Snow Pack Report
USGS Gauge

There are several outstanding runs within a 30-mile radius of Avery, including the Skookum Canyon (class III-IV), Tumbledown (class III-IV) and Heller Creek (class IV) sections of the main St. Joe, plus Marble Creek (class III-IV) and the North Fork (class III). Also, access to the Little North Fork of the Clearwater (class IV) is from Avery via Fishook Creek.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-03-20 17:08:26


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 15 2009 (3539 days ago)
Jake ZywickeDetails
Ran it 5/14/09 with big smiles. Triple drop now has some wood hanging into the river just below the
first drop. Lacking a saw, we could not remove them. Everything else boated very clean. The water
level looked higher than pictures posted here, but the holes weren't incredibly sticky. Less water
might possibly make them more abrupt and more sticky...any thoughts?
July 4 2004 (5315 days ago)
Michael FrenchDetails
Todd & others, your new pics of Slate at considerably lower level than when we ran it clearly
shows the dramatic difference the run is. The lower flows make each drop very distinctive, while at
the higher flows they kind of blend together in a whitewater malestrom! Cool run either way. Thanks
for the pics!
May 3 2004 (5377 days ago)
Michael FrenchDetails
The painted gauge on NE side of bridge on piling is somewhat deceptive: If the Joe is quite high,
so it will reflect on the gage as the backwater may falsely elevate the gauge even if Slate may not
be running high. On the other hand, we ran Slate Sat 5/1/04 when the gauge was dry, well below 0
and the Joe was 4760cfs, yet Slate was similar in nature to when gauge read 1 ft? Difficult to say
what the gauge really means.<br />