Blackfoot - Trail Creek Bridge to Cedar Creek (near Aldridge)

Blackfoot, Idaho, US


Trail Creek Bridge to Cedar Creek (near Aldridge) (Wolverine Canyon)

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 9.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 74 fpm
Max Gradient 120 fpm

Gnarly Sieve of Death

Gnarly Sieve of Death
Photo of Sieve - Portage by Dave Garrity taken 06/99 @ 800CFS +

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Blackfoot Near Shelley
dream-512 400 - 1200 cfs IV-V 67h33m 145 cfs (too low)

River Description

Wolverine Canyon has serious class 4 and 5 whitewater in a steep canyon.  There are several sections of continuous class 4 to 4+ rapids with a few big class 5 rapids mixed in.  There is one mandatory portage. 

The run starts off very slowly from Trail Creek Road Bridge.  The first 4 miles have mostly the same character as the easy sections upstream.  At mile 3, a series of large ledge drops give paddlers a small taste of what is to come in the heart of the canyon.  At mile 4 the serious whitewater starts with a bang and mostly does not let up till mile 8.   The steepest mile drops 120 feet, but one 1/2 mile section drops 75 feet and the steepest 1/2 mile near the end, drops 104 feet. 

The river mostly flows through BLM property for the first few miles.  When the BLM property ends, the river right bank is private property, while river left is Fort Hall Indian reservation property. 

Put in:  Trail Creek Road Bridge.  There appears to be some parking and easy access to the river at the bridge or close by.  BLM has a primitive campground just downstream on river right.  There also appears to be access at 1 mile downstream and at 1.7 miles downstream. 

Take out:  It looks like there is a steep hike out at Cedar Creek, otherwise boaters must continue on down through slow water to road access at mile 12 or mile 13.


Davis Gove warned on 2007-07-02, following a fatal accident:
This run is a full IV+ with multiple V's including a mandatory portage. Without a local boater familiar with the run this stretch could be an epic due to lots of scouting. Many of the lines are not obvious and would require TONS of scouting. This section contains multiple demanding rapids and at least one portage. A few of the main class V's have wood and pin hazards so scout thoroughly.

John "Gordo" Henderson added on 2007-07-04:
I've got a big problem with the AW page for the section of the Blackfoot River where the fatality occurred, not just because I lost a best friend there but, more to the point, it's not the first time. (Ed. note: the rating for this section has been changed, because of Gordo's warning.) On July 7, 2006 two friends of mine who work together on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation Fire District attempted to run the same reach of river. At the time they were essentially advanced beginners and had no business being on that section of the Blackfoot River. (Incidentally, the reach is known locally as "Wolverine Canyon") They had both run other reaches of Idaho whitewater rated similarly to what the AW page rates the Blackfoot in "Wolverine Canyon" such as the South Fork of the Payette "Staircase" and "Canyon" sections, so they were unintimidated after having looked up the section on the AW page.
The rapid in question is known as "Teller Tube" (think of what happens to the tube in a pneumatic system at the bank) and the locals refer to it as the FIRST of the CLASS FIVE RAPIDS in Wolverine Canyon. I've not run the section myself but according to the boaters who were with Paul when he was killed, the nature of the canyon is like the North Fork of the Payette, Class-V rapids with continuous Class-IV water in between. Back to my story. My two friends got out to scout "Teller Tube," Jeff shouldered his boat, Zane elected to run it. Needless to say he had essentially the same experience as Paul did with the exception that he was still in his boat when he pinned on the logjam and at the last moment, washed free. My friend was injured by the current, which had blown the orbits of his eyes open and threatened to literally suck the globes out of their sockets. He had river water running behind his eyeballs. It took him over a month to regain his vision fully and longer to lose the raccoon-eye bruises around his eyes. The river stripped him of his neoprene booties which forced him to walk out of the canyon barefoot through steep rattlesnake infested talus slopes.
The nature of "Teller Tube" is Class-V moves with Class-VI consequences. The line is narrow to the point of being microscopic. You must make a tight left-to-right move across the face of a green drop, then work center punching holes, avoiding the massive pillow on the left, then you MUST catch an eddy on the right which is the pivot point of the rapid. There you have three options, a hairy ferry across the powerful current to river left and then down the left side of the rapid, a bump and slide down the far right of the rapid, or, better yet, get the Hell out of the river and portage. The consequence of not making the eddy or a smaller last chance eddy below it, is to be swept into a boulder field blocked by a jumbled logjam. Worse is to be upside down like Zane was, or swimming like Paul was--the chances for either situation are near zero. The current flows to and piles up on the logjam and anything not actively trying to avoid it will inevitably wind up in the logjam to be strained.
..... the Class-V character of the river with a note that the wood in "Teller Tube" leaves zero margin for error with a near certain fatal potential for anyone not on his game, on line and under control of his boat.


Other Information Sources: 
BLM Blackfoot River Campgrounds
Flow information phone number -208-238-0586

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-06-15 19:14:39

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Trail Creek Rd bridgeN/APutin
1.1Possible AccessN/AAccess
1.7Possible AccessN/AAccess
3.4Ledge DropsIII+
4.4Start of Continuous WhitewaterIII+
4.5Big RapidIV+
4.8Big RapidV
5.1Island RapidIII+
5.3Teller TubeVHazard Photo
6.3Big RapidIV
7.1Two Big RapidsV
7.3Big RapidV
7.6Very Big RapidV
9.9Narrow RapidIVTakeout Access
10.1Cedar Creek RapidIIITakeout Access
11.7Possible AccessN/AAccess
13.7Possible AccessN/AAccess

Rapid Descriptions

Trail Creek Rd bridge (Class N/A)

The easiest parking and put ins, appear to be off a spur just upstream of this bridge or at the campground entrance just downstream.  All river miles for listed rapids are from this bridge as measured with Google Earth. 

Possible Access (Class N/A, Mile 1.1)

A side road drops down to the river from Blackfoot River Road. 

Possible Access (Class N/A, Mile 1.7)

A side road leads to the top of the bluff.  Trails may lead to the river. 

Ledge Drops (Class III+, Mile 3.4)

Two river wide ledge drops give paddlers a taste of the bigger stuff to come. 

Start of Continuous Whitewater (Class III+, Mile 4.4)

The river starts dropping and within a few hundred yards the difficulty is class 4 or harder.   Elevation is about 5351

Big Rapid (Class IV+, Mile 4.5)

This rapid within a continuous section appears to be a little bigger than the rest. 

Big Rapid (Class V, Mile 4.8)

This rapid comes near the end of a long continuous section.  The river bends left as it enters the rapid.  Elevation 5290 feet.

Island Rapid (Class III+, Mile 5.1)

After a short section of swiftwater, the channel narrows, rapids start and then split around a large island.  Either channel looks fine.  Below the island is a very short area of calm water heading west into one of the biggest rapids.

Teller Tube (Class V, Mile 5.3)

First Big Rapid

First Big Rapid
Photo by Dave Garrity taken 09/97 @ 400cfs(?)

The river narrows and drops into one of the biggest rapids on the run.  The channel widens in the lower part of the rapid but it is cluttered with large boulders and logs which have jammed on those boulders.  Elevation at start, 5230 feet.

Big Rapid (Class IV, Mile 6.3)

This cluttered rapid is the last hurrah for the continuous rapids above. The river eases off for a ways below this rapid. 

Two Big Rapids (Class V, Mile 7.1)

Two big cluttered rapids are separated by a short pool. 

Big Rapid (Class V, Mile 7.3)

This long congested rapid is on a gradual left turn.

Very Big Rapid (Class V, Mile 7.6)

Calm water flows around an island, then into the congested entrance to one of the biggest and longest rapids on the run. The river drops 104 feet in the next 1/2 mile which is the steepest section of the run. A tenth of a mile after that, the serious whitewater is over.  Elevation at entrance is 5000 feet.

Narrow Rapid (Class IV, Mile 9.9)

The river bends northeast to go around a promontory across from Cedar Creek.  The first rapid is a narrow, straight chute leading into flat water of a horseshoe bend. This rapid is about 80 yards long. 

Cedar Creek Rapid (Class III, Mile 10.1)

Cedar Creek comes in from river right at a horseshoe bend.   A fairly easy rapid, starts at the mouth of Cedar Creek and leads out of the horseshoe bend.  

If you take out here, beach on the upstream side of Cedar Creek, above the rapid.  Carry up the creek a very short distance, cross the creek, then follow use trails up a steep hill to Blackfoot River Road.

Elevation at the river is 4796 feet, while the road side parking elevation is about 4970 feet. 

Possible Access (Class N/A, Mile 11.7)

 A steep road or trail drops down the cliff to near the river.

The river is flat and meandering in this section, but it appears to be swift with plenty of waves.

Possible Access (Class N/A, Mile 13.7)

A well used spur road drops down to the river.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 7 2012 (2413 days ago)
Carsonjk (154256)
I have paddled this stretch several times in the last couple of years and would agree with what
Davis wrote, class 4-5. If you don't know what that means than simply stay home. Greg's group did
this run in 6 hours with no previous experience, that's not at all bad for a solid run like this. I
consider it one of the best runs in the area and contradicting what others have written I think
this run is relatively clean. Yes there is some wood, but not very much considering what most class
5 gathers. Teller Tube is a very straight forward but committing rapid with some wood at the end
where you wouldn't want to go even if it was wood free. There are dozens of good drops and only one
mandatory walk, that's a rarity on this type of run. Also, it flows late season which is a huge
bonus around here! Important side note, I believe that this gauge was discontinued from USGS. This
reading on the AW site is old and not accurate. You can call irrigation at 208-238-0586 for current
flows. If somebody knows of a working internet gauge please post it.
September 3 2007 (4091 days ago)
Greg StahlDetails
I just paddled the Wolverine Canyon section of the Blackfoot for the first time yesterday. I read
AW's write-up after the fact and would like to offer an additional warning. We padded the river at
550 cfs without incident, but it is a very dangerous and remote river. Neither of us had done it
before, and it took nearly six hours to scout, run and portage when necessary. We portaged three
times, and the rapid called Teller Tube was not one of them. There are numerous places to pin,
broach and otherwise get in a lot of trouble. The Class V rapids are interspersed with very
consistent and bony Class IV rapids that are not like what Idaho boaters are used to. They are
creeky and rocky rapids. Even with thorough scouting I broached three times and pinned momentarily
at least twice. The combination of remoteness, poison ivy, rattle snakes and very demanding scouts
and portages makes this river very dangerous. The rapids are steeper than anything on the North
Fork Payette, although they may be a smidgen easier. But the consequences for ever coming out of
your boat are severe. Had we gone with a guide, I imagine it would have been a smoother day. But
even with a guide there are many places where scouting is crucial. This is a unique run in Idaho.
It's worth doing, but be prepared, and, as Gordo pointed out, don't go in there unless you've got
your A game. It's not only difficult whitewater, but it's a physically-demanding day.

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