Difficulty IV
Length 6 Miles
Gauge NF Blackfoot R ab Dry Gulch nr Ovando MT
Flow Range 350 - 2500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 2 days ago 101 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/08/2019 2:45 pm

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.

 

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Kevin Colburn
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1 year ago

The old gage is back!

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Travis Miller
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1 year ago

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 appreciated.

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Brian French
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7 years ago

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.

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n/a
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8 years ago

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11 years ago

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 ride!

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11 years ago

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.

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Ben Clack
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14 years ago

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.

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News

article main photo

Appeal Challenging Montana Navigability Is Denied

7/28/2003
Jason Robertson

On May 28 the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by Mountain States Legal Foundation who filed a lawsuit in June 2001 alleging the 1985 Montana Stream Access Law violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution to regulate who floated over their land.

The decision thereby protects Montana's Stream access law and public rights of navigation throughout the State.

article main photo

River Recreationists Win Big in Montana!

1/9/2001
Jason Robertson

The Missoulian newspaper reported on January 5th, 2001 that U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell dismissed a case brought by the Mountain States Legal Foundation challenging public recreational rights on Montana’s rivers and streams. This is a huge win for boaters and fishermen!
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Kevin Colburn

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Matt Muir

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1206727 07/14/16 Kevin Colburn New Mapping
1206728 07/14/16 Kevin Colburn photo
1208579 12/12/17 Kevin Colburn gage in desc
1210406 10/03/18 Kevin Colburn gage update
1212188 05/08/19 Kevin Colburn updated image position
1190780 01/18/02 n/a n/a
1197989 07/27/10 Kevin Colburn increased difficulty to Class IV.
1200174 05/23/11 Matt Muir new gage range
1206726 07/14/16 Kevin Colburn new description