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Rafting the St. Maries River

By: Bill London
Trip Date: April

I have never been so cold.

The day we (George, Joyce, and I) chose to float the St. Maries River in north Idaho started sunny. But after we got on the water, it turned to rain and then snow. We were unprepared--but survived. And that trip on the St. Maries was the best one-day float I ever took.

The St. Maries is a small river, only floatable in April or May when the mountains provide enough snowmelt.

There is a twenty-mile stretch of the river from a spot known as Mashburn to the edge of the town of St. Maries where the river slows to slackwater behind the Post Falls Dam. The highway separates from the river for that stretch. It's a beautiful canyon. We saw beaver, otters, deer, and lots of birds.

You have to be careful since the river is so shallow. And if you lose it, it's a long walk out.

Mashburn is now just a railroad siding (it was a settlement along the river) located about two miles north on Highway 3 of the junction of Highway 6 (from Potlatch) and Highway 3 (from Santa and Fernwood). Driving north on Highway 3 from that junction, Mashburn is the riverside field just before the highway climbs out of the St. Maries River valley. Put in there. Dress warm. Have a great trip.

And during the summer, it's a great hike from Mashburn downstream into the river canyon.