Blackfoot, North Fork - Foot Bridge to Road Bridge (Hike In)

Blackfoot, North Fork, Montana, US


Foot Bridge to Road Bridge (Hike In)

Usual Difficulty IV (for normal flows)
Length 6 Miles

Nice Upper Rapid

Nice Upper Rapid
Photo of Michael Fiebig by Kevin Colburn taken 06/24/16 @ 440 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
NF Blackfoot R ab Dry Gulch nr Ovando MT
usgs-12338300 350 - 2500 cfs IV 00h57m 95.8 cfs (too low)

River Description

The North Fork of the Blackfoot is a Missoula area creeking staple for those willing to hike. It offers kayakers and packrafters a long season, excellent whitewater and scenery, and a character that changes dramatically with flows.  At low flows (350-650) it offers really nice Class III/IV creek boating and ideal advanced packrafting. At medium flows (650-1200) The North Fork is creeky but powerful class IV with one V-. Flows over 1,200 result in a big water feel and it becomes a big fast wave train with some vital hole and wood dodging. 

Hike as far as you want upstream on a good trail and paddle back out to the bridge a mile or so downstream from the trailhead.  For the full package, hike to about 1/4 mile upstream of the foot bridge, but beyond that the river is extremely steep and generally unrunnable. Scout for wood from the trail and while on the water, and bring your bear spray!

Thanks to Ben Clack for contributing to this description.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-10-03 13:44:32

Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 3 2018 (110 days ago)
Kevin ColburnDetails
The old gage is back!
July 9 2018 (195 days ago)
caarma01 (154316)
Ran the upper stretch on 7/4/18 at 325 CFS; it was low, but still plenty of water and lots of fun
with a creeky feel. Ran again on 7/7/18 at about 255 on the DNRC gauge; still lots of fun and
enough water, but not sure I would want to go much lower.
May 23 2018 (243 days ago)
twomed (158246)
Has anybody been up to look at the river this year? With this new gauge and the statement that it
can be run at 210 I am wondering how the new gauge correlates to the old. Any Beta would be
May 14 2012 (2442 days ago)
Brian FrenchDetails
Ran the upper stretch on 5/12/2012 at 1300 cfs or so. Six Pin has some new wood (at least new to
me) stacked up above the crux on the river right side that significantly restricts the line. It's
still runnable, but basically zero room for any error going into the crux move at the end of the
rapid and the wood hangs out right where the flow pushes you off the right bank. It wouldn't be as
big of an issue at lower flows - say around 1000 cfs or below. The log jam mentioned below a ways
down from Six Pin is still there, but has an open line on the left side that you can't see until
you're right on top of it - we verified it's wide open after portaging though.
June 3 2008 (3884 days ago)
x (1)
There is a very large log jam about a mile and a half up from the take-out (bridge) . I could see
it being a problem above 3000 cfs. Keep your eyes peeled(there is a sneak route around the left
side.) There is a route through everything (except for a riverwide strainer below 6 pin) but lots
of sketchy wood.
June 2 2008 (3885 days ago)
x (1)
Just ran the NF from above the bridge all the way down, only significant wood was a riverwide log
about 1/4 mile below six pin... hard to see comming up, but eddy out on left. 2200 CFS... great
May 12 2008 (3905 days ago)
x (1)
Were you in the Subaru, New hampshire plates? I was there on the 11th too. I hiked in at least
4-miles past the trailhead (which still has snow slides blocking the last 1/2 mile of the road
leading to the trailhead). True, there is wood scattered about, but nothing out of the ordinary for
this run. The lines are still clear--just don't swim! I saw big cat tracks off the beaten path.
February 3 2006 (4734 days ago)
Ben ClackDetails
The upper run is very much worth your while. Don't be put off by the "I-III" rating, as
that only applies to the lower reaches several miles below the campground. Hike in above campground
about 3miles or so to about a 1/4mile past the bridge. You will be rewarded with several class IV
drops, and one V-, depending on flows of course. Flows above 650 or so are OK, but I prefer around
900 or so for a creeky feel, big water feel anything above 1200 or so. WATCH FOR WOOD, also be
aware this is Grizzly country.