This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-III
Length 20 Miles
Gauge LOCHSA RIVER NR LOWELL ID
Flow Range 2 - 10 FT
Flow Rate as of: 31 minutes ago 2.3 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 02/27/2015 6:28 am

River Description


For those who wish to enjoy the beauty of the Lochsa without the intensity of the more well-known sections downstream, you will not be disappointed. The entire run is roadside and most of it is visible on the shuttle drive making it easy to get an assessment of the character of the run.
 
From the start of the run where the Lochsa forms at the confluence of the Crooked Fork and Colt Killed Creek, the river is mostly swift but straightforward class II. You will pass by a few cabins and the Powell Ranger Station complex in the first couple miles. In this upper segment, the river valley is a little wider and flatter than the downstream sections. About six miles in, you will encounter the first significant rapid known as Cold Storage. This drop is a class III+ rapid that is right along the road and can be easily scouted on the drive up. It is the biggest rapid on this segment where the river drops through a series of big waves in narrower section of the channel constrained by bedrock. The line is generally down the tongue to the right of center. The runout continues for at least another half mile downstream with lots of fun features.
 
The next 10 miles or so down to Colgate are full of fun class II with a few distinct rapids that are in the class II/III range that are relatively easy to boat scout. Although the current is swift throughout this reach during the spring snowmelt, all of the rapids have good recovery sections at the end.
 
From Colgate it's about a nine mile run down to White Pine and this run is a nice beginner whitewater trip that can be done on its own. Just downstream of the dispersed camping area at Colgate, the river flows over a fun class II/III rapid with a couple of waves at the top and a nice tongue right of center. Below here the river is mostly lively class II. Below the Mocus Point Pack Bridge, about halfway into the run, the river is punctuated by a few more distinct class II/III drops. The run finishes off with Indian Grave Rapid before it takes a big bend to the left through a section with a couple islands. that marks the approach to the take-out at White Pine.
 
As an added bonus to the whitewater on this run, two of the most accessible hot springs on the Lochsa are along this section, making a soak after your run a nice addition to the day. Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is accessible from the Warm Springs Trailhead at Highway 12 mile 151.4 by crossing the pack bridge to river left and heading about a mile up the trail. Weir Hot Springs is accessible from a small unsigned parking area at Highway 12 mile 142.1. The 0.5 trail up the creek to the hot spring forks to provide either an upper trail or lower trail option but both arrive at the same place, a beautiful pool that sits on a slab of bedrock overlooking the creek and the forested valley below.
 
Logistics: White Sands Campground is the start of this 25 mile run. From Highway 12 mile 163.5 turn down the Forest Service road to White Sand Campground. It's 1.2 miles down to the confluence of the Crooked Fork and Colt Killed Creek, where you turn right into the campground and will find a day use area with river access. 
 
The small community of Powell that includes Lochsa Lodge (lodging, dining, gas, and basic supplies), a Forest Service ranger station complex, and a campground is at Highway 12 mile 161.8 but there is no formal river access. Kayaks can find a couple spots in the campground or along the road but options for rafts are not great.
 
For those looking for a shorter run you have a few options. You can put-in at White House Campground at mile 158.5. This puts you in about a mile upstream of Cold Storage, a class III and the biggest drop on this section. 
 
For a short beginner run, the Colgate access is a dispersed camping area at Highway 12 mile 147.7 that serves as a nice alternate put-in.
 
The take-out for this section is at White Pine at Highway 12 mile 138.5. The run is also described as ending at Indian Grave Creek as this tributary enters the Lochsa just upstream of the take-out. Make sure you recognize the take-out as downstream of this point the pace picks up considerably as you enter the classic "Upper Lochsa" run with several class IV rapids.
 

While there are several camping options along the entire Lochsa River, including some nice undeveloped sites, Wilderness Gateway Campground at Highway 12 mile 122.7 (cross the bridge to the campground on river left) offers the most sites and is a popular gathering place for whitewater paddlers in the spring.

Rapid Descriptions

Cold Storage

Class - III Mile - -157.6

River valley narrows following a gravel bar island to form the first rapid.

Unnamed

Class - II+ Mile - -155.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Large waves but a straight shot.

Jerry Johnson

Class - II+ Mile - -151

Straightforward rapid.

Colgate Licks

Class - II+ Mile - -148.3

Straightforward rapid.

Colgate Access

Class - N/A Mile - -147.7

Dispersed camp site at Colgate with a good river access point at Highway 12 mile 147.7.

Indian Grave

Class - II+ Mile - -139.8

Comments

Gauge Description


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Directions Description


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Alerts

News

article main photo

Illegal Megaloads Push Ahead, Drawing Protests and Lawsuit (ID)

2013-08-09 17:30:00-04
Kevin Colburn

Earlier this week a massive piece of industrial equipment was shipped through the Wild and Scenic Lochsa River Corridor, against the wishes of the US Forest Service, the Nez Perce Tribe, and river advocates.  As the shipment moved towards the Wild and Scenic River corridor though, the US Forest Service failed to take any actions to stop its progress.  The result was high profile protests, and now a lawsuit against the Forest Service for failing to act.  

article main photo

Big Rigs Threaten Idaho's Lochsa River

2010-11-26 00:00:00-05
Kevin Colburn

Idaho Rivers United is seeking affirmation from river enthusiasts that they represent your interest in protecting the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers from a massive effort to move "mega-loads" of oil infrastructure along the rivers. IRU has a short online form with which you can endorse their efforts.  

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Oil Project Creates Trail of Opposition in ID and MT

2010-05-06 00:00:00-04
Kevin Colburn

A proposal to ship massive pieces of oil extraction equipment from Korea across back roads in Idaho and Montana to Alberta is raising concerns from paddlers, conservation groups, businesses, public safety officials, and everyday citizens.   Comments on a portion of this project are due May 14, 2010.

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Idaho Proposes Registration Fee for Non-Motorized Boats

2004-01-20 00:00:00-05
John Gangemi

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Idaho is proposing a $13 registration fee for non-motorized boats greater than 7 feet in length.  Under this registration fee proposal all kayaks and rafts on Idaho waters would be required to have a registration sticker fixed to the bow of each boat greater than 7 feet in length.  Stickers would not be transferable between boats.  Out of state boaters would be required to comply as well.

article main photo

Can You Taste Victory?

2001-10-23 00:00:00-04
American Whitewater

FERC revokes Preliminary Permit for
hydropower project on Boundary Creek in
Northern Idaho.
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Matt Muir

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Thomas O'Keefe