If you've ever driven to Boundary Creek on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, you've driven over Bear Valley Creek as it meanders through Bruce Meadows. This beautiful creek makes an interesting alternative put-in for kayakers running the Middle Fork or a fun day trip. From Poker Meadows Campground it's 7.5 miles to it's confluence with Marsh Creek where the Middle Fork of the Salmon River begins. From there you'll paddle another 10 miles down to Dagger Falls where you can take out or continue down to the Boundary Creek Launch Site.

Bear Valley Creek just upstream of the confluence with Marsh Creek

Bear Valley Creek just upstream of the confluence with Marsh Creek

The rapids on Bear Valley Creek are mostly Class II with an occasional Class III. Dangerous wood is always a possibility and should be taken seriously due to the continuous nature of this river. The whitewater picks up to continuous Class III (with potential wood) once you join up with Marsh Creek and are paddling on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Much of Bear Valley Creek makes up the southern border of the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in at Poker Meadows Campground. The first 3.6 miles are very flat as Bear Valley Creek meanders through Bruce Meadows.

Put-in at Poker Meadows Campground

Put-in at Poker Meadows Campground

Mile 3.6: Alternate put-in at Fir Creek Campground. If you don't like flatwater and scenery then you might consider putting in at this campground.

Mile 3.61: Mandatory portage on the right around a river wide fish trap. There is no way to line boats around this so getting rafts around this obstacle would require carrying them around.

The Fish Trip at Fir Creek Campground

The Fish Trip at Fir Creek Campground

Mile 6.7: Bear Valley Hot Springs is a great place to stop or camp on river right. These hot springs contain Red Spider Mites that can leave itchy red sores.

Bear Valley Hot Springs

Bear Valley Hot Springs

Mile 7.5: Bear Valley Creek joins Marsh Creek forming the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Below here the river is continuous Class III and commonly has logs blocking the channel.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River begins at the confluence of Bear Valley Creek and Marsh Creek

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River begins at the confluence of Bear Valley Creek and Marsh Creek

Mile 16.9: A bridge crosses the river with an easy take out on the left just before the bridge. Just below here is Dagger Falls (V).

Mile 17: Dagger Falls (V) is a famous multi-tiered rapid that should be scouted on the left. A Middle Fork of the Salmon River permit is required to paddle below Dagger Falls.

Mile 17.1: Boundary Creek Launch Site is where most trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River begin.

Written by
Zach Collier

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