St. Maries Flatwater Paddle Tour
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Distance: 7 miles
Paddling time: 2-3 hours
Season: March through November
Maps: USGS St. Maries
Info: U.S. Geological Survey water resources office in Sandpoint, (208) 263-4123
PADDLING TRIP NOTES
Access: In St. Maries, Idaho, go to corner of First and College streets at west end of town (just behind IGA grocery store). To reach take-out site, head southeast 1 mile on Highway 3 (College Street becomes Highway 3) to sportsmen’s fishing access on west side of road. Leave shuttle vehicle here and backtrack to First and College streets.
To reach put-in site, head south on First Street (behind IGA store). Follow main paved road as it winds and eventually turns to rough gravel and parallels railway. Put-in is 5-3/4 miles from First and College streets, just past fourth crossing of railway and outcropping of basalt rock columns. Park on west side of road and carry boats to river unless you have high-clearance vehicle for rough rail crossing to riverside parking area.
Attractions: Route begins in cedar forest on tranquil section of river, progressing out of mountains into wetlands with cottonwood-lined shores. High banks shut out most development and disturbance along way. Prime area for waterfowl in spring and vibrant colors from larch, cottonwoods and aspen in fall. Great blue herons and woodpeckers common most of year.
Hazards: Deadheads, possible sweepers.
Comments: Route easy to negotiate throughout season, with no sharp turns. However, entire route has only handful of pull-out opportunities, most on private land.
Although route generally is placid, St. Maries has its high-water moments. Info from U.S. Geological Survey water resources office shows that flows peaked in 1995 during rain-on-snow event on Feb. 20. Flows were at 9-foot stage and 4,450 cubic feet per second. On March 10, river was 7.17 feet and 1,600 cfs. On May 23, 5.14 feet and 263 cfs. By Aug. 31, 4 feet and 55 cfs. Get the drift?
Cedars hang over river in some areas. Watch for “sweepers” and “strainers” - trees that fall perpendicular into river with dangerous branches intact to snag people, boats or equipment that come their way.
River has numerous deadheads - mostly submerged logs - all of which can easily be avoided.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Map of paddle tour area
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest