Kicking Horse River - Kicking Horse Rest Area to Lower Canyon

Contributed by Michael Reeder
What It's Like
Continuous, steep river running.
Class
V
Scouting / Portaging
Easy scouting and portaging along river right train tracks, but watch out for trains and CP employees.
Time
1 hour if scouting, 15 minute race laps.
When to Go
April to November
Gauge
11.3cms↓ (Apr 21 14:40)
Commonly referred to as the Middle Kicking Horse by kayakers and "Middle-Middle" or the "Unraftable Section" by rafters, this is the most challenging section of the Kicking Horse. This run starts off flat but picks up quickly. After the first couple of class 3 rapids the continuous class 4 starts. A kilometer or so of fast read and run leads to a pair of eddies on either side of the river next to a set of train lights. Scouting from here is recommended if you are showing yourself down this section of river. From the train lights to the next good eddy is a couple hundred meters of very continuous class 4/4+. The next eddy, the "big rock eddy" provides a great place to stop and scout all the way down to the crux, the Bridge Drop. Immediately after the Bridge Drop comes Split Rock, after which the run eases back to continuous read and run class 4.

A swim anywhere in this section would be bad. The Kicking Horse is cold, continuous, shallow, and full of sharp rocks. All of these factors add up to make it more consequential than it is hard.

Flows: This section has been run as low as the river gets (~10 cms) and almost as high as it gets (~300 cms). Ultra low water still provides fun class 4 and ultra high water serves up giant crashing waves of incredible power and about 2 km with no possibility of stopping.  Mere mortals usually wait until the river drops to around 120 cms to think about running this section.

Continuous whitewater upstream of the crux (photo by Garrett Quin).


The Bridge Drop at medium flows (Photo by Garrett Quinn).


The Bridge Drop at ultra low water in mid November.