Saturday, March 30, 2013

Post Falls Reservoir, Spokane River, Kootenai County, Idaho

Deep Draft Boats, Motors Allowed

Section of Spokane River From Lake Coeur d'Alene to Post Falls Dam

Post Falls Reservoir (Spokane River) - Deep Draft Boats/Keelboats
208-769-1357 for Post Falls Dam info or view @

The Post Falls Dam controls the depth of Lake Coeur d’Alene (8 ft. depth difference from low to high water) via an 11 miles stretch of Spokane River. The Posts Falls Dam was the erected on the Spokane river in 1906 to supply electricity and irrigation to the North Idaho area. This Dam is within the Post Falls Park. There are extensive trails, a pond, and boat launch behind the dam, and an overlook next to the dam.

Boat traffic on this reservoir is not a problem during spring or fall, but during summer the traffic on this reservoir is best described as nuts! If you boat this reservoir in the summer follow all boating rules and practice very defensive boating.

The reservoir is narrow and shallow in places but the main channel is deep enough for deep draft boats and keelboats. Boating on this reservoir from one end to the other and on into Lake Coeur d'Alene is an adventure. Kayakers, please see kayak route info below.

Bridges and Power Lines: Two bridges cross the reservoir. HWY 95 Bridge crosses the reservoir/river on the east end and through Blackwell Island and on the west end. Spokane Avenue Bridge crosses the reservoir next to Q'emiln Park. At the Spokane Ave. On the bridge there is an electric sign (hanging over the river in boaters view - not in view from the street) indicating if the gates on the dam are open or not; open gates indicate greater current. Height clearance via the main channel when passing under the bridge is 20'-40' depending upon water level via the main channel.

Power lines cross the Reservoir in at least 3 places (watch for more because as the area develops more lines may be put in) which can be an issue for sailboats. There are a bunch of power lines that cross near the Spokane Bridge. There is another set of lines east of the Green Ferry Launch (and widest part of the reservoir), and another one after that.

GOOGLE MAP... Zoom and out, move around to see all there is to see :)

Click to Enlarge

MAP 1 - Lake Coeur d'Alene to Huetter Rd.,  MAP 2 - Huetter Rd. to Post Falls Dam, MAP 3 - See the above Google Map.

PARKS & BOAT LAUNCHES: There are five nice parks on the reservoir. Below is a list of the reservoir/river access sites starting from the east end of the reservoir/river going west.

1. North Idaho College (NIC) public beach... This park has several restroom facilities, running water, and picnic tables. There is no boat launch but it is a popular spot for kayakers or small boat sailors to portage from the road to waters edge to access either the reservoir/river or Lake Coeur d'Alene. Directions: From I90 take exit 11. Turn southeast toward the City of Coeur d'Alene city center. On Northwest Boulevard follow the signs to North Idaho College, take the road that goes around the college along the lake & river to where the boats are on the beach and dock. Maps: To view a map view the above maps.

2. Blackwell Island Park & Boat Launch... This is the main boat launch on the east end the Post Falls Reservoir, .4 miles down river of Lake Coeur d'Alene. This park has a large double ramp boat launch and extensive dock system, ADA boat access ramp/platform for person with disAbilities, restrooms, running water, picnic areas, nature boardwalks through the marsh, and swim area within the non-motorized channel. The Island is separated from the mainland by a narrow channel... One can launch a kayak or canoe from the Island into the channel via several area along the channel bank. Several of these spots are from old primitive boat launches before the park was created. As you just enter the park to your left is where most of these old primitive launch sites are at (through the grass). For kayakers/non motorized craft launch from the low spots in the bank are preferred versus having to deal with powerboats at the launch. See more info about this channel, its landing, and other info by reading the info below in 2.5. For information related to the Blackwell Island Park and boat launch, click here: Info: There is a Blackwell Island RV Park right across the street from the boat launch . Directions: From I-90 take exit 11. Turn southeast toward the City of Coeur d'Alene city center. On Northwest Boulevard take the highway 95 on ramp and turn south toward Moscow Idaho. The entrance to the park is right after you cross the bridge. Maps: To view a map CLICK HERE TO VIEW PDF MAP or go visit the Google Map on this page.

2.5 Blackwell Island Channel Landing (No Motorized Craft)... This is probably the most protected area to launch a kayak or canoe on this part of the Spokane River / Post Falls Reservoir. This landing is right on the Blackwell Island channel on the non-Island side next to HWY 95 channel bridge. This is a non-motorized channel perfect for kayaking/canoeing. A plus compared to launching on Blackwell Island is its free to use this site. And additional plus is you can either travel southwest into the Spokane River or travel Northeast into the Hagadone Marina and own into Lake Coeur d'Alene next to Cougar Bay. When traveling southwest toward the Spokane River the channel will split, going left into the shallower channel takes you to the river as does the wider and deep right channel. This right channel takes you to the Spokane River as well but also takes you to the Blackwell Island boat launch. No motors are allowed in either of these channels. Launch from the Blackwell IslandDirections: From I-90 take exit 11. Turn southeast toward the City of Coeur d'Alene city center. On Northwest Boulevard take the highway 95 on ramp and turn south toward Moscow Idaho. You will cross the Spokane River Bridge, then pass the entrance to the Blackwell Island park, then immediately cross the Blackwell Island channel bridge. After this second bridge is N. Lakeview Dr. to your right. On either side of this road entrance is a gravel parking lot. Turn righting to the south gravel parking lot and drive all the way into the lot where there is a wide trail with a no camping sign on a tree... This is the place! Portage your craft down the trail to the landing. There is one point on this trail that is steep and rocky, but other than this one spot its easy to get to the landing. The trail is only about 100 feet from the parking lot to the channel/water. Maps: View the above maps. Blackwell Island Park and boat launch, click here:
Info: There is a Blackwell Island RV Park right across the street from the boat launch

3. Mill River Park... Mill River Park has a day use dock with swimming beach, shelter, restroom, water fountain, and paved parking area. One can easily carry a kayak or small craft from the parking lot to the beach/dock. Directions: 4340 W Shoreview Lane, Coeur d'Alene, ID.

4. Maple Dr. Park... Maple Drive Park is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It has a porta potty at the parking area, one picnic table, and a trash receptacle. Maple Drive Park has a nice beach to either swim and/or launch a kayak from; though the path to the beach is a bit long.

5. Kiwanis Park... This is the newest park on the reservoir/river and is leased to the city for $1 a year. The Kiwanis club sold part of their land at this site to afford to develop a 4-acre park. The park includes an unguarded swimming beach, kayak/canoe launch area (have to portage a few hundred feet down a wide, level, gravel path), trails, picnic areas and shelters, restrooms, playground equipment, basket ball area, and a 34x46 covered pavilion. This is a popular site for weddings and family reunions. 4176 E. Weather by Ave. Post Falls Idaho.

6. Greens Ferry Boat Launch... We took a picture of the launch when the water in the reservoir was drawn down to show how shallow this launch site is. When the water level is at its highest the depth at the end of this gravel launch is only about 4 feet deep or less. This launch facility is not well suited as a swim area due to the very short shore area and boat traffic. It also has no restroom or running water. However, this is a great place to launch from in order to access the widest part of the reservoir. There is a sand/mud bar you could potentially go aground on if you were to proceed west from the mouth of the channel. It is best to follow the north shore of the channel all the way out until your are heading north directly into the river channel. If you sail on this portion of the reservoir going east a short distance there are power lines (very high off the water but still something to watch for). Also up river (west) there is another set of power lines.

7. Black Bay Park... There is no boat launch here but If you are boating with a sail yak or even a small dinghy you can walk your boat down the trail several hundred feet to the water (watch out for bikes). Amenities include restrooms, running water, paved bike/hiking trails, swim area, and large parking area. For a map of Black Bay Park log onto. Directions: To get to Blackwell Island take Exit 11. Turn right onto Northwest Blvd toward down town Coeur d’Alene. Turn right onto the I95 on-ramp and take a right onto I95. Cross the bridge and to the right you will see the Blackwell Island boat launch and park.

8. Q'emiln Park and Boat Launches... This is the largest park on the reservoir (this section of the river) with fenced in swim area, restrooms, running water, play ground, hiking trails, and boat launches with docks. There is a fee to use this park. For more information log onto . Note of caution - If you are launching from Q’emiln Park be aware of the current as you could be drawn into the dam barrier. The current can be very fast (particularly during spring). Post Falls Chamber of Commerce website: Call 208-769-1357 or log onto for more information. Directions:  From I90 heading from either Spokane or Coeur d’Alene - Take Exit 5 and turn right (south); cross the bridge and to the left you will see the park.

Islands & Bays (Places to Anchor)

Islands: There are 7 main Islands within the Post Falls Reservoir of the Spokane River as well as two more very small unnamed islands. Going from where the Spokane River starts at Lake Coeur d'Alene to Post Falls (westerly direction) are Blackwell Island and Little Blackwell Island. These are the only Islands on the river that the public is allowed to access. When the reservoir/river is drawn down, the channel between these two Islands disappears and the Islands become one and connects with the mainland. The channel is a nice place to swim and kayak from.  When there is water in this channel it is for non-motorized use only. Amenities include a park with double boat launch and docks, restrooms, picnic areas, nature trail boardwalk, and shelters. There is one marina, a privately owned campground, and the famous floating restaurant, Cedars.

The next Island is Marsh Island. No power boat traffic is allowed to go behind the Island due to the wildlife restrictions. One can access this area to view water foul via kayaks by launching across the river at Mill River Park.

A short distance up river is Hidden Island. It is privately owned and has a channel that dead ends due to a low bridge, which even a kayak can't go under.

The second largest Island on the reservoir/river is Harbor Island, which, like the other Islands, also has a channel that is accessible from the reservoir/river. This channel has privately owned docks along its length but is not a channel that non-resident power boaters use as it is in a no wake zone and dead ends at the bridge. At east entrance to this channel is a sign that says "dead end." However, this doesn't apply to those in kayaks or canoes which can easily pass under the bridge. This is a beautiful place to paddle and a nice way to get out of reservoir/river traffic.

There are two designated wildlife Island(s) on this reservoir/river - the Twin Goose Islands. This is one Island in the winter when the reservoir is drawn down, and two Islands in the summer when the reservoir is full. Location is about 1 mile east of the dam. These twin Islands are water foul habitation so are not to be accessed by people.

The final Island is Span Way Island, a privately owned island with houses on it. Span Way is just a short distance up the river from Q'emiln Park and on the same side of the river (south side). There is a channel around the island but where the street crosses to the Island there is a pipe that passes under creating an impassable barrier that even a swimmer couldn't get through. The channel on either side of this road is private and used by the owners of the homes along the channel for their water craft.

Bays: There are several bays and inlets that seem to be ideal locations to get away from the main channel of the reservoir. Black Bay (See Black Bay Park) is a perfect bay to get away from the boating traffic, particularly if you are on a kayak or non-motorized vessel. This bay is part of a park ran by the city of Post Falls. Going into the bay a short distance you can anchor your power boat and relax. The bay is a button hook shape and half way into the bay there are signs prohibiting motorized vessels. It's quite a nice place go to kayak and especially swim.

Ross Point Bay is another nice anchoring spot. It is surrounded by a Church Camp so you will want to be mindful of what you do, and if you are listening to music please keep the volume down when in this bay. The land around this bay is owned by the Baptist church so the general public is not allowed to go on shore.

There are several other inlets/coves; Hidden Cove is across from Ross Point Bay. But like the other small inlets, it is surrounded by homes and is really too small to anchor in without impeding boat traffic from those homes. The public boat launch among these inlets is the Greens Ferry Public Boat Launch; there is a narrow channel leading to and from this launch facility. The channel was created primarily by Cedar Creek and the increased water level from the dam. There is no water in this channel during the winter and it is only 2-4 feet deep during the summer. This channel can be busy due to boats leaving from and returning to the boat launch and private residences, so is not a channel to anchor in or obstruct.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful scenery.Q'emiln Park and Boat Launches is the most wonderful place.

    Lakeview Lodge bed and breakfast gidgegannup