SF Flathead via Lodgepole Cr. Just a few notes 2018

Though I’d add some notes of my experience. Last year I did the SF by entering at Holland Lake and then down Gordon Cr but this year I decided to try Lodgepole Cr and over Youngs Pass. I’ll just go in logical order from trailhead to takeout.

First: No shade and very ashy. I found the pass to be completely burned (~95%) from the trailhead all the way to the South Fork (confluence of Danaher and Youngs.). There is very little shade and it was difficult to keep the ash and dust from covering everything in camp. So expect to put some effort into keeping cool and clean while not on the river.

Second: Blowdowns. After going over Youngs pass and descending past the cabin site (only the log foundation remains) there was a section of blowdowns that was limited to about a hundred yards. Not terribly hard to go around or climb over, which ever you choose. It looks massive but really it’s nothing.

Third: Log jams: Between Youngs Falls and the confluence of Youngs and Danaher there were about half dozen or so log jams. Between Y&D confluence and Big Prairie there were only two big log jams (a third one when the flow starts to drop). None of the log jams that I experience were in any kind of pinch spot that would require frantic evasive maneuvers. I should mention that I floated from the base of Youngs falls to the Mid-creek takeout.

Fourth: I didn’t find any issues after Big Prairie.

Fifth: The Gorge. There is room to portage in the gorge before the foot/stock bridge at Meadow cr. but not after it. In low water (last year) it took me a whole day to float/portage the three miles to the packers roost (horse corral at Meadow cr.) and climb out, so I skipped it this year. (Honestly, the hydraulics were so powerful before I hit mid-creek this year that I wussed out by the time I got there.) Also, (west side only) there is no trail up from the river to the stock corral/parking area and it is a hell of a bushwhack through extremely thick growth up a very steep embankment. There is no rock climbing but you will be clawing your way from the rivers edge to the top, in growth that is so thick that you can’t see the ground under your feet. Also the river speeds up as you approach the last takeout spot and you cannot see the bridge until it’s too late, so you better dam well know your spot to get out.

Thank you for that report. My wife and I are going in the end of this month. I had thought I wanted to go in via Lodgepole, but thanks to your report I know that we don’t. We’re going in via Holland Lake and horse packing - a first for us. Then camp, float, and fish our way to Mid Creek for the trek out. We’ve allocated 5 days for this and want to spend one day hiking up White River. We were told that it is very worth it, but unfortunately it’s too far for us to hike all the way to the Chinese wall.


Thanks for sharing. Wow, you make it sound like sooooo much fun that I’ll just have to go do it too. We hike in on the 19th and 20th over Young’s Pass (thanks for the confirmation that the blow-down isn’t that bad) and hope to launch in the vicinity of Babcock Creek. I plan to bring a small Tyvek tarp and light weight chairs that allow us to sit off the ground. We’ll also have foam pads that we can put underneath our Thermarest pads, allowing us to “more comfortably” camp on gravel bar’s (away from the burned woods)

  • What day did you launch and/or what was the level?
  • How many days did it take for you to float from Young’s Falls to Mid-Creek?
  • Bugs?
  • What, if anything, would you do differently if you were to go again (besides not going that is)?
  • Any other “words of wisdom” or suggestions?

Salmo_g: just FYI, Upper Holland Lake is full of trout and 5 days is sort of cutting it close for anything but the float.

Boatbender: I put in just below Youngs Falls on June 27th. The level at Twin Cr. South Fork was around 5500cfs I believe. I had originally planned on spending 8 days on the S. Fork but after a bit of an adventure on the Middle Fork I only had 6 days to spend on the S. Fork, So 5 days to Mid-Creek and 6 days to Spotted Bear. Yeah, lots of mosquitoes. My understanding is that they are only around for a few weeks. Montana mosquitoes are the most inept insect in the world. In most places when you swat at mosquitoes and it drives them into a feeding frenzy, in MT they go away for five minutes and come back with an apology. I carried 100% deet and never used it. (What would I do differently?) Call my wife and tell her that I was in jail for a two weeks…so that I could spend more time in the Bob. (Words of wisdom?) I’m pretty low on the totem pole of wisdom…maybe, HYOH (hike your own hike.) :slight_smile: