Return to the Kettle – and guide to put ins and camping

We recently did a club presentation on the many family friendly canoe camping trips we’ve did on the Kettle River, near Rock Creek BC, when the kids were growing up. It inspired us to do a return to the Kettle after Rivers Week 2021, and to try out an upper section we never paddled in all those years – and got a little surprise you’ll read about below!.  Monica and I were joined by James, Cathy, Carey, Janice and Leigh. 

Put ins: head North from the Kettle River provincial park and veer right at Westbridge. You are now on the Christian Valley Road (where everyone refers to locations based on the km markers ).  It follows the East Kettle. We traditionally put in at the Fiva Creek bridge at about km 27 and paddle to the beach at Rock Creek over three days and two nights. Finding camping that isn’t someone’s private property is important, so we traditionally camped night 1 here , which is a great island, and night two at the island just north of the Kettle Provincial Park – which you can see from the highway a few hundred meters north of the park entrance.

There are other put in and takeout options as well, and great camping besides the obvious and excellent Kettle Provincial Park site. There is great free Rec site camping between km 30 and 40. The one at about 31.5 (Canyon Creek Rec site) is the highest you can put in with loaded boats and children or novices. It is all easy from there down, all the way to Midway if you want, or the iron bridge half way between Rock Creek and Midway. You could go from the Canyon Creek Rec site all the way to Midway over 4 days and three nights if you want to extend the trip,  Or a day trip, such as between the bridges at km 27 and 7.

Even though the Kettle is an easy River, do keep in mind that it is a real river, so experienced paddlers should help keep the less experienced safe and show them how to stay on the inside of bends to avoid the wood that piles up on the outside in a few places.

If you are adventurous and paddling unloaded boats with experienced paddlers, helmets etc, there is a put in at the Rec site near km 40 (Kettle Canyon Rec site), and you can paddle down to the Fiva Creek bridge for a day trip. The hazards to be aware of are in a 1.5 km stretch. It includes a pair of nasty ledges, followed by a 200m boulder garden, and then by a rock strewn section after the river bends left. You can see pretty much all of it except the opening ledges from the road near km 32 – scout in and decide. The ledges (which are are in the photo at the top of this report on the right against the bluff, though you can’t properly see them) are too sharp and jagged to paddle, so require a short lining over boulders – but we did paddle the rest. 

Water levels: it was very low in early July 2021: 17 cms on the “Kettle River at Ferry” gauge. It floated our boats, but just barely in places – look for 20 cms or better. Generally the river is very high in mid June and drops dramatically, making late June and the first half of July your best bet.

For a safe overnight river trip with kids, with warm clear water and a zillion spots to swim and play, it’s hard to beat the Kettle.

Dan Burnett

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