Pack, Idaho, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV+(V) (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||150 fpm|
|Max Gradient||250 fpm|
|PACK RIVER NR COLBURN ID|
|usgs-12392300||500 - 2000 cfs||III-IV+(V)||00h45m||326 cfs (too low)|
The Slides starts with a mile or so of technical, continuous class III-IV boulder drops. A jumble
of large boulders constricting the channel marks the beginning of the steeper, bedrock rapids.
Here the whitewater changes character as the continuous boulder drops are suddenly replaced by a
series of clean four- to five-foot ledges punctuated by two clean rock slides (15 to 20 feet high
and 30 to 60 feet long, both quite easy) that are separated by the section's crux rapid, the
Guillotine. Longer and more technical than the other ledges and rock slides, the Guillotine is
the only rapid within the Slides section that approaches, class V and it is easily portaged.
After the final slide, the bedrock disappears for good and the river turns back into fun
continuous class III-IV boulder drops for the final 1.5 miles to the take out. The Slides section
is probably the most popular section of the Pack , in part due to its easy-to-portage nature. It
enables non-expert paddlers to experience beautiful, alpine, steep creeking with out having to
run committing rapids. You can end your day after the Slides or continue to the Gorgette.
The Upper Pack is easy to find. Drive North from Sandpoint towards Canada on Hwy 2 and turn left on the Pack River road just after you see the meandering and well marked Lower Pack pass under the highway (this is where the USGS Gauge is located). 4.7 miles after turning off Hwy 95 you will cross the Pack River for the first time since turning off Hwy 95, 4.2 miles after this first bridge is a convenient take out option for the Gorgette on the right, though there are other options both upstream and downstream while the road is close to the river.
Keep following the Pack River road upstream, when you come to a second vehicle bridge you have
come to the put-in for the Gorgette and the take-out for
the Slides . The
rock gauge is located at this bridge. The road gets rowdier past this second bridge and 4WD
and relatively high clearance is recommended, though it is possible for a sedan driving prudently
to make it all the way to the top if there is no snow. If you plan on running
the Slides, but not the
Grottos continue for 1.8 miles past the second bridge and start looking for a narrow dirt road
that splits off to the left and down toward the river. High clearance vehicles can drive a short
ways down this road and save an extra couple minutes of hiking, but most people will choose to
just park at the split since the road washes out before it gets to the river. Walk down this road
until it reaches the river at the put in for the Slides.
To get to the Grottos put-in keep driving past the split until you come to a "Y" in the road 3.7 miles past the second bridge and go left down to the river where you will find parking at a small wooden foot bridge that is the trailhead to Chimney Rock. To run the Grottos hike about ¼ mile upstream to the beginning of the rapids that end at the bridge.
Page created by Todd Hoffman. Descriptions by local expert Natty Role, copied from September /
October '05 AW Journal.
Lat/longitude coordinates for the takeout are a wild guess, to get you into the ballpark.