Kootenai River

Troy, Montana

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For most of its length in the United States, the Kootenai River is within sight of roads. This trip, which starts in Montana and ends in Idaho, takes paddlers through a remote and heavily forested canyon, where cars cannot be heard or seen. An occasional house peeks over the horizon and trains screech and grind along riverside tracks, disrupting the solitude about every hour. Otherwise, river travelers likely will have the place to themselves. Fishing is a big attraction, with healthy populations of pan-sized cutthroat and rainbow trout, along with a few lunkers. Broad and swift, the river is gentle for long stretches that are separated by rapids. The whitewater should not cause problems for intermediate paddlers. About 5 miles into the trip, the river crosses under an abandoned bridge at the old village of Leonia. Anglers should note the spot carefully, since it also marks the Idaho state line. Those with only Montana fishing licenses must reel in their lines. About a mile beyond the bridge is a cedar-covered island with rapids at the head. A good, undeveloped campsite is on a high bench at the tail of the island. A second island, 5 miles downstream from the first, also provides good camping. The islands and most of the south shore of the Kootenai are public land, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The north shore is a mix of public and private land. Strong headwinds can be a problem the last several miles of the trip.
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)

For most of its length in the United States, the Kootenai River is within sight of roads. This trip, which starts in Montana and ends in Idaho, takes paddlers through a remote and heavily forested canyon, where cars cannot be heard or seen. An occasional house peeks over the horizon and trains screech and grind along riverside tracks, disrupting the solitude about every hour. Otherwise, river travelers likely will have the place to themselves. Fishing is a big attraction, with healthy populations of pan-sized cutthroat and rainbow trout, along with a few lunkers.

Broad and swift, the river is gentle for long stretches that are separated by rapids. The whitewater should not cause problems for intermediate paddlers. About 5 miles into the trip, the river crosses under an abandoned bridge at the old village of Leonia. Anglers should note the spot carefully, since it also marks the Idaho state line. Those with only Montana fishing licenses must reel in their lines. About a mile beyond the bridge is a cedar-covered island with rapids at the head. A good, undeveloped campsite is on a high bench at the tail of the island. A second island, 5 miles downstream from the first, also provides good camping. The islands and most of the south shore of the Kootenai are public land, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The north shore is a mix of public and private land. Strong headwinds can be a problem the last several miles of the trip.

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

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Troy
Distance: 16
Duration: 6 hours or overnight
Class: Class II
Season: Best: May through October
Local Contacts: Kootenai National Forest, Three Rivers Ranger Station in Troy
Local Maps: USGS Kilbrennen Lake, Leonia, Curley Creek, Moyie Springs
Driving Directions: Directions to Kootenai River

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Apr 2018