Big Creek enters the Middle Fork of the Salmon River just above it's famous Impassable Canyon. Most kayakers who paddle by it see fun whitewater and dream about paddling the Middle Fork's largest tributary.
Most people who do Big Creek fly into the Big Creek Airstrip. Five medium sized creek boats can fit into an Islander making five people the ideal size group to share the cost of the flight.
The scenery is stunning. The canyons are much like the Middle Fork (obviously!), but tighter and steeper with bigger rapids. There were many great side hikes and camp sites. Paddling the Middle Fork's Impassable Canyon is an amazing ending to this trip.
This trip is best done in a hardshell kayak, but could be done at lower water with inflatable kayaks. Rafts could make it down too if you don't mind portaging logs.
Mile 0: Put-in on Big Creek near the Big Creek Airstrip. You can bushwack down to the creek or follow a trail that goes down the river left side toward Smith Creek.
Mile 1.5: Smith Creek enters from the left side. Big Creek is steep and continuous below here with the occasional wood to look out for.
Mile 9.4: Big Ramey Creek enters from the left side.
Mile 11.7: Monumental Creek enters from the right side. This is a Class III-IV creek with plenty of wood portages that is an alternate access to Big Creek with a road to it's put-in.
Mile 23: The river meanders through an open valley and Cabin Creek enters from the left side. There is a USFS airstrip a few minutes walk up this creek.
Mile 28: Rush Creek enters from the right side.
Mile 28.7: The Taylor Ranch is on the right. This legendary hunting ranch has an airport and bridge that crosses Big Creek.
Mile 32: Soldier Bar is a large natural bar with and airstrip high above the river on the right. It's named after Private Harry Eagan who died during and amputation surgery and was buried here. This is the last good place to camp before the confluence with the Middle Fork. Below here the creek is continuous Class III and IV through the Big Creek Gorge.
Mile 34.9: A bridge crosses Big Creek in a narrow spot. This mile of whitewater below here is some of the best on the entire creek.
Mile 36: Big Creek meets the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. You cannot camp on the Middle Fork without a permit to run the river.