Monday, March 26, 2012

Calispell Creek, Pend Oreille County, Washington

Small boats, Motors Allowed

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. One can fish on this creek at Forest Service Rd 3620 just a few miles up the road from Power Lake. At the Power Lake boat launch one can paddle up stream a short distance to enjoy the creek or fish it. Leaving this creek via the boat launch take you to Power Lake --- acre lake. At the outlet of this lake is the start again of the creek at the dam. The creek falls a good 40 feet into a canyon that is not navigatible by kayak, etc. a few miles down this creek after the dam it passes under the Westside Calispell Rd bridge. At this bridge you can launch but its 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 would be the only time you could get into the create this way and even then I would not advise it, its not worth the effort. At the McKenzie Rd. bridge one can head up stream into Calispell Lake (See Calispell Lake section above) 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 water foul that that make this creek there home. As you progress down this creek one will have to lift and go over and under some bob wire fences. These fence of course keep cattle from wondering 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 creeks bank. The best place to do this on the right/west side of the creek right next to the log boom. Once up on the creeks bank there is a small gravel road over the top of the dike and rail-road-tracks that is part of the dam system. On the other side of the dike there is narrow dirt trail to the waters 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, basket ball 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: In. Maps: To view a map click on and type _, WA, US. On I90 locate Exit 280 and follow above directions to view the lake.

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. This is the bridge for N. Forest Service Rd 3520. The area around this bridge is a popular place to camp and fish.
2. This is the launch site into the creek and Power Lake. One can paddle up the creek a short distance to fish and take in the scenery.
3. This is dam the backs up the water of Calispell Creek to create Power Lake. When it comes to reservoirs it looks a lot like a natural lake. The water from this reservoir plummets about 40 feet into a canyon and the creeks next stop is Calispell Lake.
4. This is a view from the Westside Calispell Rd. bridge. The creek has a fairly well defined channel but disappears into a large marsh at Calispell Lake.
5. 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.
6. Just before you enter or exit 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.
7. Mckenzie rd. bridge is the main access point to enter the creek (and Calispell Lake) and the only access point where you can get into Calispell Lake. Going down stream you will have to pass through about 5 barb wire fences, it is easy to get through them but do not access this creek during spring run off when getting caught in this wire fences would be dangerous.
8. This is the Calispell Dam and spillway. There is a log boom that creates a barrier to getting to close to the dam, however do not get close to this dam during spring run off. You can see in the picture that the take-out point is next to the log boom across the creek in the picture (east side of the creek).
9. After exiting the creek by the dam one crosses the dike/rail road 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 waters edge and right next to the spillway. On entering you will ride the current of the spillway into deeper water. The Pend Oreille River is only a few hundred feet from this dike/spillway.


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