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Boundary Creek: Canadian Border to Confluence

Video by Grant Amaral: Kayaking Boundary Creek, 600 cfs.

Flow Information:

There is an online USGS gauge located at the take out. Recommended flows are between 400 and 600 cfs, which equates to read-and-run, class IV / V paddling requiring "aggressive" boat scouting. The creek has been run above 600 cfs by experienced class V paddlers familiar with the lines, but its not recommended. Not much info exists on low water runs, but I have heard second hand of low flow descents being possible. The road to the put in, via Saddle Pass (5,150'), is generally snowed in until early to mid-June.

Run Description:

Boundary Creek literally starts at the Canada / Idaho border on the Selkirk divide. From 3,400 feet at the border, it drops at an average of 250+ per mile over 7.5 miles to the Kootenai River at 1,800 feet. The steepest section, around mile 6, is estimated at between 300 and 350 per mile. The run is best suited for strong teams of class V paddlers, comfortable with read-and-run class V boating. John Gangemi, one of the early pioneers of the run, describes Boundary Creek as having a single rapid that starts at the put in and ends and the take out. Get an early start and plan on a long, demanding day of non-stop, high speed-class IV / V boating.

Note that the US Border Patrol keeps a close eye on this area. In fact, they stopped me and questioned me while I was in the area scouting once. There is a primitive border crossing at the put in, but it is under some sort of remote, electronic surveillance. Crossing into or out of Canada from here is unlawful. Micro-hydro development remains an ongoing threat to Boundary Creek.


To get to the put in, take Highway 95 North to Highway 1 towards Porthill. A short distance up Highway 1, watch for county road 45 - Copeland Hill Road. Stay on 45, across the Kootenai River, to the junction with West Side Road. Take West Side Road North (right) to the junction with Smith Creek road / Boundary Creek road. Go North, staying right, on Boundary Creek road till it makes a sharp 90 degree turn East (right) at the Canadian border. Watch for a small side road to the left to Boundary Creek bridge.

To get to the put in, return to Smith Creek road, take it all they way up Smith Creek and Cow Creek to Saddle Pass road. Go North (right) on Saddle Pass road and stay on it till you hit Boundary Creek. See inset map for details. A Kaniksu National Forest map is highly recommended.

Stream Stats:

Ave Gradient: 250 fpm
Max Gradient: 350 fpm
Distance: 7.5
Difficulty: IV / V
Consequences: V
Min Level: 400
Max Level: 600
Season: Jun

Planning Tools:

USGS Gage - Boundary Creek near Porthill

Key Places:


Boundary Creek

in a larger map.

Copyright Todd Hoffman 2009 - All Rights Reserved