Mellow canoe trips in the Northwest

Week of March 27-April 3, 1996
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Mellow canoe trips in the Northwest


Mellow canoe trips in the Northwest
Q: I am looking for good canoeing rivers for my wife and I to putz around in. Class II rapids are OK, but I have little or no interest in peeing in my pants in a Class III rapid. Can you offer any suggestions for inland Northwest? I don't really want to drive more than 50-100 miles, especially now that Washington has upped the speed limit to 70 mph on the highway, as nine mpg with a canoe on the roof at 70 mph is no fun. Idaho is good with us; we've never canoed the St. Joe or St. Maries. Thanks for any help.

David Buschhorn
Spokane, WA
buschhor@poweramp

Idaho's Saint Joe (above) and Saint Maries rivers offer mellow canoeing


A: In my opinion, the St. Maries River--just over the Idaho border--is just your speed. You can't beat its gentle Class II-III rapids for pure putzing pleasure, and the surrounding pine forests are beautiful and delightfully secluded.

The 15-mile stretch will take you about four hours, longer depending on the speed of your putz, and you won't have any mean portages to contend with. Just below the put-in near the bridge at the Mashburn railroad siding on Idaho 3, the river drops into a deep canyon, with straightforward Class II swiftwater for much of the run. The biggest rapid, dubbed "the Loop" is a get-your-money's-worth, yet entirely do-able Class III just below the first railroad trestle. Survive that and you--and your shorts--are home-free: the river's even flatter below the Loop. From there, it's a long, laid-back paddle to the take-out at tent-friendly Grassy Flat, on the left below the third trestle.

For more information, about the St. Maries or the decidedly more fierce St. Joes, pick up a copy of Idaho: The Whitewater State, by Grant Amaral (Watershed Books, 208-726-5244).


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