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.
Ran this at ~750 on the gauge on 7/3/2020. One tiny piece of wood in play in the runout of 6-pin, but otherwise clean as a whistle. Great little run, high bang for the hiking buck.
The old gage is back!
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.
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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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!
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.
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.
5 days ago
by Steve Rodgers
12 years ago
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Moe & Susan
Great class III
Open up top
Susan and Adam
Moe on the North Fork Blackfoot
North Fork BeeBop
Nice Upper Rapid
Low Water North Fork
Calving Avalanche Chutes
NF Blackfoot Near the Takeout
North Fork Blackfoot at 2200 - Boom'in!
Stunning NF Blackfoot Scenery
DDD entering Six Pin
Entering Six Pin
Ben Whaley dropping 7-10
N. Fk Blackfoot above bridge
N.F. of the Blackfoot...
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