MF Flathead wilderness run

Hi packrafter,
I am looking for packrafting partners to do the MF Flathead wilderness run anytime between June 28 and July 18.
The MF Flathead wilderness section consists of a 30-mile class 4 run from Schafer Meadows (accessed by small plane) to Bear Creek. Due to the airplane access this section is great for packrafts and small paddle rafts.
The wildeness section is followed by a 40-mile class 2-3 section (roadside with multiple access points) to West Glacier.
Please let me know if you have any interest. Must have experience running class 3+ to 4- creeks and multiday self support.

Hey Flo,

I’m interested. I’ll be out of the country until July 11, but the end of those dates could work for me. I’ve done the south fork and north fork and have been wanting to do the MF fork for awhile now. Although I’d been thinking of skipping the flight and hiking the 15 mi in to Schafer. I’ve packrafted class III+ in AK, class IV on the grand, Sauk in WA, Buffalo Rapids on the main Flathead, Alberton Gorge, etc. Swiftwater certified in 2021 + WFR in 2023. What’s your river history / any certifications?

Do you live in MT? I’m in Missoula.

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for getting back to me. So after July 11 is good for you, right?

I live in Durango, CO and will be spending a bunch of time in ID in June and in MT early July.

I would have to fly in as it’s a long backpacking trip with a heavy pack (I don’t have good knees).

I come from a whitewater kayaking background (15 years) and have switched to packrafting in the last 4 years. I have done some class 3+ rivers in my packraft, incl Fractions and Browns on the Ark, MF Salmon, Lochsa (section after Wilderness Gateway CG, walked lochsa falls), some of the Grand, Socca river in Slovenia, Westwater section of Colorado river.

I have a wilderness first aid certification.

I would go with a group of 3 minimum. I don’t think the river will be too big after July 11 anyways.

I’ll be around Missoula June 8 so maybe we could meet if you are around…

Hey Sarah & Flo,

I am also interested in a/this Middle Fork Flathead trip. I did the South Fork Flathead from Big Salmon Creek to Spotted Bear River (including Meadow Creek Gorge) last summer with no issues. I’ve also done the Middle Fork from Bear Creek to West Glacier, but am very keen to see the section between Schafer Meadows and Highway 2.

Otherwise, I live in Asheville North Carolina, and do a lot of paddling in the Southern Appalachians but typically spend a few weeks in Montana and Idaho each summer packrafting and/or kayaking. Have done several sections of the Salmon, the South Fork Salmon from the Secesh to the Salmon, South Fork and main Payette, Lochsa, Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork, North Fork and main Blackfoot, House Rock of the Gallatin, Bear Trap Canyon of the Madison, Boulder River, and a few others out in that area.

I’ve done a few switftwater rescue courses, and just completed my first Wilderness First Responder certification this past winter. Very stoked on, and comfortable with, multi-day trips.

If this all works out for the MF Flathead, I would likely fly in/out of Missoula and try to borrow a friend’s van in town to help with shuttle if need be. My preference would be to hike in. Perhaps Sarah and I could hike if Flo flew?

Would love to continue the conversation.


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Hi Jack,
This is great! Regarding the flight vs hike, flights are chartered through Red Eagle Aviation so we need to be at least 3 people to share the cost. It’s $599 for 900lb of total weight (passengers + gear) up to 5 passengers (fresh info from today). So, depending on our body weight we can fit up to 4 people + packrafting gear. They fly out of Kalispell.
My friend did it last year and highly recommends flying! He said it’s one of the trip highlight (this link also says that:
Note that you need to drop a car at the takeout beforehand (kali to Essex is 1h15 drive one way). We can takeout at Essex or go further down. I absolutely love self-support packrafting so I would love to continue further down the MF.
As a group, we could first do a couple day runs to get to know each other before embarking on the wilderness run, if time permits.

Hey Flo!

Thanks for following up. If time permits, I think my preference would be to hike in, but perhaps there’s the possibility to grow the group to where you would have your quota for the flight, and others could hike in the day before to meet at Schafer?

I’m still very tentative overall. Later in the summer is better, but definitely don’t let me know you up if you find a crew with more stable logistics sooner.


Hi Jack and Sarah,
That’s a great idea. Maybe Sarah who is local can find other people? I am also not opposed to hiking in, but would take my time and do it with an overnight (I can leave 1 day before you guys).
I have to be back to Durango for a wedding July 20 so need to be at the takeout by July 18. So, put-in on July 16 at the latest.
Sarah, what dates would work for you?

Howdy from MT! I’ve run this section about 6-7 times (raft, hardshell & packraft), live in Kalispell where Red Eagle airport is, and happy to share intel or possibly join the trip (need to check dates). Me (+ 1 possibly). That would make 5 on trip. Thoughts?

I was told that’s a 9 mile hike, not 15 miles as I had read. So yes, I’d be up for hiking down instead of flying.
Just ran the Salt river (AZ) at 3500 cfs. A loaded packraft makes a huge difference in that higher volume water!

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That all sounds good!

I’m a solid maybe for a mid-late July MF Flathead trip (which it sounds like is the best timing across everyone’s schedule). A lot depends on exact dates chosen and availability and cost of flights from North Carolina to Montana.

I think it might make the most sense for y’all to try to put together dates that work for the local-ish folks, and I’ll make a call about if I could join or not then. I would certainly like to if I can!


Actually, re-looking at my calendar, I think the only dates I can’t do in July would be July 6-8 or 11-14. After the 14 should be good.


Great! Let’s move to email to organize our group off line. My email is