Pack River Paddle Tour (Rapid Lightning Creek To Lake Pend Oreille)


Distance: 9 to 10 miles

Difficulty: Mostly easy

Paddline time: 4 - 6 hours

Season: April through October

Maps: USGS Oden Bay, Trout Peak, plus Kaniksu National Forest map available from Sandpoint Ranger Statioin

Info: Pack River General Store


Access: To put-in: From junction with Highway 2/95 north of Sandpoint, head east on Highway 200 about 6-1/2 miles and turn left (north) at milepost 36 onto Colburn-Culver Road. Drive 2-3/4 miles and turn right at school onto Rapid Lightning Creek Road. Drive 1-1/2 miles to put-in on east side of Pack River bridge next to fire station. Do not block fire station driveway!

To take-out: Backtrack to Colburn-Culver Road, then drive south again and turn left (east) on Highway 200. Drive 4-3/4 miles to dirt road (milepost 40.8) that leads down from highway to shore of Pack River Flats near railroad dike.

Optional take-outs: At Highway 200 on east side of Pack River bridge (milepost 38.8). Also at Highway 200 pull-outs along Pack River Flats.

Attractions: This lazy, windy flatwater tour through forested meadows can be negotiated by paddlers with modest skills in high or low water. Although surrounding land mostly private, sand and gravel bars offer options for stopping, swimming or picnicking below high water mark. Explore several long backwater sloughs. Good chance of seeing wildlife, including waterfowl, beaver, bald eagles, osprey, moose, deer, wood ducks and spotted sandpipers bobbing their tails along shoreline.

Hazards: Sharp turns. Blowdown trees and log jams possible. Wind on Pack River Flats.

Comments: River snakes through private land somewhat more deliberately than upriver stretch from Highway 2/95 to Rapid Lightning Creek. Sandbars can be wide and grass tall along banks in mid-summer. Cottonwoods, cedars loom along meadows, some of which have been cleared for cattle grazing.

Pass mouths of tributary streams, including Trout Creek.

Note entry to neat backwater slough, full of lily pads, river right on upstream edge of golf course.

Shorten trip to 6 miles by pulling out at Highway 200 bridge. Must drag boats up short but steep jumble of rocks.

Paddle flatwater another 3-4 miles from bridge to take-out at railroad dike. Length depends on whether you follow river channel, or blaze trail over flats, which are flooded when level of Lake Pend Oreille is high. (Scout flats from road when leaving shuttle car at take-out.) U.S. Geological Survey stopped readings at Pack River gauging stations in 1992 for lack of funding.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map: Pack River Paddle Tour (Rapid Lightning Creek to Lake Pend Oreille)

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest

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