Thompson River

Thompson Falls, Montana

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The small and uncrowded Thompson River requires better-than-average paddling skills to maneuver through scattered rapids while avoiding the fallen trees that paddlers likely will find blocking their paths. After high water in spring 1997, the upper 18 miles of this trip were blocked in at least twelve places, each requiring a short portage. Hawthorns with half-inch spines overhang the shoreline in many places, so a wide turn on this narrow river sometimes draws blood. Elsewhere, the river meanders through meadows, the current all but disappears, and paddling is not so much a challenge as a chore. But few streams are as lovely. The river begins at Thompson Lakes chain and runs 51 miles to its confluence with the Clark Fork River east of Thompson Falls. Streamside cottonwoods fill the air with their cotton-like seedpods. The many clearcuts one sees from roads are mostly invisible from the water. The roads themselves are hidden in the upper 18 miles of river, which is seldom paddled. Cabins sit streamside in places.
Paddling Washington: Routes in Washington State & the Inland Northwest

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Paddling Washington: Routes in Washington State & the Inland Northwest

by Verne Huser, Rich Landers, Dan Hansen, and Doug North (The Mountaineers Books)

The small and uncrowded Thompson River requires better-than-average paddling skills to maneuver through scattered rapids while avoiding the fallen trees that paddlers likely will find blocking their paths. After high water in spring 1997, the upper 18 miles of this trip were blocked in at least twelve places, each requiring a short portage. Hawthorns with half-inch spines overhang the shoreline in many places, so a wide turn on this narrow river sometimes draws blood. Elsewhere, the river meanders through meadows, the current all but disappears, and paddling is not so much a challenge as a chore. But few streams are as lovely.

The river begins at Thompson Lakes chain and runs 51 miles to its confluence with the Clark Fork River east of Thompson Falls. Streamside cottonwoods fill the air with their cotton-like seedpods. The many clearcuts one sees from roads are mostly invisible from the water. The roads themselves are hidden in the upper 18 miles of river, which is seldom paddled. Cabins sit streamside in places.

©  Verne Huser, Rich Landers, Dan Hansen, and Doug North/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Thompson Falls
Distance: 30
Duration: 2 days
Class: Clas II-III
Season: Best: Generally May through early June
Local Contacts: Lolo National Forest, Plains Ranger Station
Local Maps: USGS Bend, Richards Peak, Calico Creek, Priscilla Peak
Driving Directions: Directions to Thompson River

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