Saturday, October 29, 2016

Calispell Creek, Pend Oreille County, Washington


Calispell Creek
Calispell Creek starts high in the Kaniksu National Forest travels through Power and Calispell Lakes and empties into Pend Oreille River at the town of Cusick, WA. Learn more about the creek when it enters and exits Power Lake at this link... Power Lake. When the creek leaves power lake it falls a good 40 feet into a canyon that is not navigable by kayak, etc. A few miles after the dam this creek passes under the West Calispell Rd bridge. At this bridge you can launch into the creak but it's very difficult to navigate into Calispell lake as the creek seems to disappear into a large marsh with no pronounced channel. During high water I think this would be the only time you could get into the create this way and even then I would not advise it, and due to the brush, fallen trees it's likely a dangerous venture, so enter at your own risk, see #4 below. The best point to launch into the creek is at the McKenzie Rd. bridge. At this point one can head up stream into Calispell Lake (Visit Calispell Lake section) or go north down stream to the Pend Oreille River. I found paddling/pedaling this creek was quite enjoyable at the McKenzie Rd. bridge and was amazed at the abundance of waterfowl that make this creek their home. As you progress down this creek one will have to lift and go over and under some barbed wire fences. These fence of course keep cattle from wandering off, especially when the flow on the creek is low. The aquatic plant life on this creek is equally impressive however I never once saw any sign of fish in this creek, yet I can not believe there is no fish in this creek. There is a dam on this creek a short distance from where it enters the Pend Oreille River that will block fish migrating up this creek. It is fairly easy to portage around the dam but one will have to walk through some tall grass and some mud to the creek's bank. The best place to do this on the right/west side of the creek right next to the log boom that is a barrier to prevent one from getting to close to the dam. Once up on the creek's bank there is a small gravel road over the top of the dike and railroad-tracks. On the other side of the dike there is narrow dirt trail to the water's edge. Once you enter this point it only is about a half mile if that to the Pend Oreille River. There is a boat launch with park (facilities includes paved boat launch, dock, restrooms, picnic area, basketball court, bike/walking trail, and running water) about a mile up river (south) from the exit site of the creek into Pend Oreille River. Honestly I would only navigate this creek during late spring or early summer as the creek gets real shallow during the late summer heat.  Directions/Maps: 
See access directions and map below...


Calispell Creek Access Points


This is a view of the creek to show all the aquatic plant life. Unfortunately there is some milfoil in the creek but not so much that you can not enjoy paddling it.


1. Mckenzie Road Bridge Landing
We call this point a Landing, meaning you can put-in or take-out here. This the main access point to enter the creek upstream and to access Calispell Lake, this is actually the only access point where you can get into Calispell Lake. Going downstream you will have to pass through about 5 barbwire fences, it is easy to get through them but do not access this creek during spring runoff when getting caught in this wire fences would be dangerous. If you can paddle this creek without touching ground then this is a navigable water way, but if you have to get out on the creek bed, walk, etc. then you are on private land, so only paddle this creek when there is enough water in it. So park on either side of the bridge all the way off the paved road, then walk down the steep bank to the water. I would tie a line to your boat so it does not float off without you. Directions/Maps: To view a map click on google.com/maps and type GPS coordinates 48.298927, -117.317519
ACCESSIBILITY: PARKING... Gravel, Dirt combo parking along road (park totally off paved road); PATHS/TRAILS... None; RESTROOMS/FACILITIES/SHADE… None; SENSORY... No sensory tactile markers for those with visual and other impairments. DOCKS/LAUNCHES/PLATFORMS… None. Launch off very steep bank of 10% grade plus; DIRECT WATER ACCESS… No access for wheeled mobility devices; TRANSFER SYSTEMS... None; CAMPING... No; O.T.H.E.R… Oddities/Barriers: Steep rocky, dirty bank of 10% plus grade; H2O/Water: Water normally murky. Water temperature in the summer can be around 60 to 70 degree. No drinking water available; Environmental Conditions: Varies; Resources: Food, drinks, and gas in town of Usk.



This is a picture of me paddling/pedaling and sailing Calispell Lake. It is very wide open to the wind and very shallow of only 2-3 feet deep (maybe 5 feet deep in some areas). Lots of water foul live at this lake.


So if you head up stream just before you enter Calispell Lake this bridge can be a major barrier. During spring run off you can not pass under it and not until spring or early summer is the water low enough to allow you to pass under it and even then there is only about 3 feet of clearance. All land around this bridge and the bridge itself is private property with no public access allowed. So you can only access this lake if able to pass under this bridge, otherwise you are trespassing. People are very protective of their land around this area and so you will be prosecuted if you get out of your watercraft and get on their land. Just a note of interest the lake is super shallow of only a foot or two of water, maybe 3 feet at its deepest.


If you head down stream you will eventually come the Calispell Dam and spillway. There is a log boom that creates a barrier to keep paddlers from getting to close to the dam, Do not paddle this creek during spring run-off as it would be difficult from not getting pulled into this dam, log boom or not.


2. Calispell Creek Dam Take-Out
You can see in the picture that the take-out point is next to the log boom at the dam, thus is the reason not to paddle this area during spring runoff... one would be to close to the dam. Across the creek in this picture (east side of the creek) one could take ones watercraft out there, but would be further away from the put-in site on the other side of the dam. Directions/Maps: To view a map click on google.com/maps and type GPS coordinates 48.341895, -117.300912
ACCESSIBILITY: PARKING... Gravel, Dirt combo parking where ever you can give it near take-out site; PATHS/TRAILS... None; RESTROOMS/FACILITIES/SHADE… None. Shake via trees; SENSORY... No sensory tactile markers for those with visual and other impairments. DOCKS/LAUNCHES/PLATFORMS… None. Take-out next to dam log boom. Walk through deep grass and mud if get to close to water. About 5 % grade; DIRECT WATER ACCESS… No access for wheeled mobility devices; TRANSFER SYSTEMS... None; CAMPING... No; O.T.H.E.R… Oddities/Barriers: Mud; H2O/Water: Water normally murky. Water temperature in the summer can be around 60 to 70 degree. No drinking water available; Environmental Conditions: Varies; Resources: Food, drinks, and gas in town of Usk.



3. Calispell Creek Dam Put-In
After exiting the creek by the dam one crosses the dike/railroad tracks via a gravel road. Once over the tracks stay close to the dike bank and a very short trail will take you to the water's edge and right next to the spillway. On entering you will ride the turbulent current of the spillway into deeper water. The Pend Oreille River is only a few hundred feet from this spillway. Directions/Maps: To view a map click on google.com/maps and type GPS coordinates 48.342097, -117.300079
ACCESSIBILITY: PARKING... Gravel, Dirt combo parking off of dirt road and where ever you can find a place to park; PATHS/TRAILS... None; RESTROOMS/FACILITIES/SHADE… None. Shade via trees; SENSORY... No sensory tactile markers for those with visual and other impairments. DOCKS/LAUNCHES/PLATFORMS… None. Launch off very steep bank. Steep trail to launch site 10% grade plus; DIRECT WATER ACCESS… No access for wheeled mobility devices; TRANSFER SYSTEMS... None; CAMPING... No; O.T.H.E.R… Oddities/Barriers: Steep rocky, dirt trail of 10% plus grade; H2O/Water: Water normally murky. Water temperature in the summer can be around 60 to 70 degree. No drinking water available; Environmental Conditions: Varies; Resources: Food, drinks, and gas in town of Usk.


4. West Calispell Road Access
This picture is of the creek right off of the West Calispell Road bridge. I have been told some people have accessed Calispell Lake via this creek. Again this creek seems to disappear into the marsh before getting to the lake. At high water times one may be able to paddle through the marsh to get into the lake. Again extreme caution should be applied when traveling on the creek into the lake as there are many sweepers, etc. that create potential dangers to anyone paddling this part of the creek. Enter at your own risk. Again all land along the creek is private land, stay in creek. If creek water level is low and you are walking on the creek bed you are then walking on private property.
ACCESSIBILITY: PARKING... Gravel, Dirt combo parking along road (park totally off paved road); PATHS/TRAILS... None; RESTROOMS/FACILITIES/SHADE… None. Shade via trees; SENSORY... No sensory tactile markers for those with visual and other impairments. DOCKS/LAUNCHES/PLATFORMS… None. Launch off very steep bank of 10% grade plus; DIRECT WATER ACCESS… No access for wheeled mobility devices; TRANSFER SYSTEMS... None; CAMPING... No; O.T.H.E.R… Oddities/Barriers: Steep rocky, dirt bank of 10% plus grade; H2O/Water: Water normally murky. Water temperature in the summer can be around 60 to 70 degree. No drinking water available; Environmental Conditions: Varies; Resources: Food, drinks, and gas in town of Usk.

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