Babine River

Contributed by Ali Marshall
What It's Like
A classic, class 3/4 wilderness multiday. Big water on the Skeena.
Class
III+-IV
Scouting / Portaging
Most rapids can be scouted and portaged.
Time
3-4 days (150km)
When to Go
May – October. Early summer for the most fun
Gauge
0.646m↓ (Jul 30 14:55)
The Babine river is a fantastic wilderness multiday trip.  Draining Babine lake, its flows through the Babine River Corridor Provincial Park for 95km until joining the Skeena River.  Downstream of this confluence, to the community of Kispiox, contains 55km of awesome ‘Big Water’ class 3 (some class 4 at high water).  During the month of August, a huge Sockeye Salmon run swims up the Babine.  There are ‘A LOT’ of Grizzlies in this area.  At the largest rapid on this section suitably named ‘Grizzly Drop’, there have been a dozen bears spotted at one time.  Be bear aware.

0.5m – 1.9m is the known  range of flow.  This run can be paddled at flood,  the rapids are class 4 but the consequence of a swim is severe.  The Skeena can run at 3000cms at these levels.  The quality of this run is better during the spring and early summer.  The late summer trips are more mellow but can feel a little slow.


Directions

Put-in

From Smithers drive east along Hwy16, cross the bridge over the Bulkley river, pass Old Babine Lake Road on your left and continue 3.5km to Babine Lake Road.  Turn left onto Babine Lake Road and drive approximately 55km to Nilkitkwa FSR which is just past Doris Lake.  Turn left (North) onto Nilkitkwa FSR and drive approximately 60km, staying on the main road at junctions, to the bridge over the Babine River just downstream of the outlet of Nilkitkwa Lake.  Just before the bridge, turn right and drive 0.4km to the put-in at the boat launch immediately downstream of the of the fish counting weir. 

Take out

The ideal take-out is the confluence of the Skeena and Kispiox rivers in the community of Kispiox.  Directions are as follows:  From Hwy 16 in New Hazelton, turn North at the tourist information center onto Hwy 62/Kispiox Road.  This turnoff is signed to Historic Old Hazelton and Ksan Village.  Follow the road 6km across one-lane Hagwilget Bridge to Kispiox Valley Rd.  Turn right onto Kispiox Valley Rd and drive 13,5km, crossing the Skeena River and Kispiox River bridges.  In Kispiox, turn right on Sim Gii Gyat Avenue, following signs to the Totem poles.  Follow this road 0.7km to the totem poles and river right bank of the Skeena river.

The shuttle is long.  Its awesome if you can find a shuttle driver.

Alternate Take out’s

For a shorter paddle but massive shuttle you can take out at the confluence of the Babine and Skeena River.  You will miss the quality whitewater on the Skeena.  Drive towards Kispiox (description above), 3.5km after turning onto Kispiox Valley Rd turn right onto Salmon River Rd.  Follow this Rd for 60km till you reach the bridge over the Babine, take out is on river right.  After 9km the road changes name from Salmon River Rd to Babine Slide FSR.

For a longer paddle (15km past Kispiox) but shorter shuttle take out at Anderson Flats Provincial Park.  From New Hazelton, take Hwy 16 towards Terrace for 3.7km then turn right onto Omineca Ave.  After 700m turn right onto Hazelton Station Road.  Follow for 1.5km until you reach the Anderson Flats on the Skeena River.

Description

The river starts off gently.  After 4hrs of class 2  you reach the confluence of Shelagyote Creek.   Depending on how far you want to paddle on day 1 this is a good camp option.  1hr downstream the whitewater starts to pick up.  1hr of fun read and run leads you to the beautiful Waterfall Camp recognizable from the waterfall on river left and huge canyon wall on river right.  45mins down form this camp is the well named Grizzly drop (class 4).  Scout on river left.  Beware of Grizzly bears, there have been a dozen bears spotted here during the salmon run.  45mins down stream lies Sphincter 1 and 2 drops (Class 3/4 constrictions), scout on river right.  Shortly after is Kisgegas Canyon, a fun class 3 canyon with some narrow gaps and ledges.  1hr down stream is the confluence of the Skeena.  There is good camping here or 20mins further is a fantastic camp on the down stream end of an island on the Skeena.  It is approximately 5-6hrs to the community of Kispiox.  The section holds some fantastic big volume class 3 with some great play waves (a few large holes at high water).  

The takeout is on river right immediately upstream of the mouth of the Kispiox River close to a large field with totem poles.


Contributed by Ali Marshall and Tania Millen

Entrance to Kisgegas Canyon Photo Ezra Brousseau


Scouting Grizzly Drop Photo Ezra Brousseau


Scenery on the upper Babine Photo Ezra Brousseau


Leaving waterfall camp Photo Ezra Brousseau

Bears at Grizzly Drop Photo Ezra Brousseau

Punching Grizzly Drop Photo Sam Ellis