Payette, N. Fork - 4. Smiths Ferry to Banks

Payette, N. Fork, Idaho, US


4. Smiths Ferry to Banks

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 16 Miles
Avg. Gradient 110 fpm
Max Gradient 200 fpm

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder
Photo of Stephen Strange by Bittu Ali taken 06/15/02 @ 1600

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-13246000 400 - 2800 cfs V 00h40m 344 cfs (too low)

River Description

This section of the North Fork of the Payette is the 16 miles above Banks and is considered big-water Class V. The entire run is parallel to Highway 55. It is usually refered to in three segments: the Top 5, Middle 5, and Lower 5. The Lower 5 is the most frequently paddled. The Lower 5 rapids are more straightforward than those upstream and the run makes a great afterwork Class-V fix or those looking for a warmup to the upper stretches. From top to bottom the river drops 1700 feet.

Classic AW Journal article on the North Fork, circa 1991.

Parts of the Bottom 5 were first paddled in 1975.

The distances in the rapid summary are approximations. If you have more detailed info, leave it in the comments section or please email the regional streamkeeper.


The standard put-in for the top of the run is Highway 55 mile 94.6.

Jacob's Ladder can be viewed from the pullout at Highway 55 mile 86.4.

The put-in for the Lower Five is the pullout at Highway 55 mile 83.8.

The take-out in Banks is at Highway 55 mile 78.8 on river right.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-07-07 04:10:35


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
4.5Big Eddy CampgroundAccess
5.1Swinging Bridge AccessN/AAccess
5.8Bad Jose5.0
6.0Know Where To Run5.0
6.4Bouncer Down the Middle5.0
7.2Pectoralis Major5.0
7.9Jacobs Ladder5.3
8.0Golf Course5.1
9.0Screaming Left Turn5.0
9.3Jaws One5.1
9.4Jaws Two5.0
10.5Hounds Tooth5.0
12.5Otters RunIV+
15.4Banks Take-outN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Jacobs Ladder (Class 5.3, Mile 7.9)

Boof left. Near mile post 86.4

Hounds Tooth (Class 5.0, Mile 10.5)

Near Milepost 84

Crunch (Class 5.0, Mile 14.5)

Bittu Probes

Bittu Probes
Photo of Bittu Ali taken 06/15/02 @ 1600

User Comments

Users can submit comments.

No Comments

Do more than just check gauges; join over 5,000 AW members today.

Or, consider donating