A collection of groups hoping to promote recreational use of the Weiser River led a float trip earlier this month.
More than 45 people participated — spending most of a day making the 21-mile journey from the put-in in Midvale to the take-out about 11 1/2 miles upriver from Weiser.
There isn’t a shorter version, so you need strong flows to make the trip in a single day. The group organized by the Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Organization of Resource Councils, Idaho Rivers United and Friends of the Weiser River Trail spent 5 1/2 hours on the water.
“You start out in several miles of flatwater that roll through farmland,” said Marie Callaway Kellner, a water associate at ICL. “... When you get in the canyon stretch, I’m going to say it’s at least five miles of splashy fun. What we were on was really fun wave trains, solid Class II.”
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The river is best-suited for rafts, whitewater kayaks/canoes and inflatable kayaks, Kellner said.
The river flow was at 2,700 cubic feet per second for her trip. The locals prefer 3,000 cfs, she said, and consider anything less than 1,500 too slow for a one-day trip. Anything under 2,000 is pushing it, she said. Flows usually are suitable in April and early May.
The Weiser River Trail — a former railway — runs along the entire route. It’s possible to camp and turn the float into a multi-day trip.
The rapids don’t require a lot of rafting knowledge, Kellner said, but it’s more than a simple Boise River float.
“You’d want to have one person along that knew what they were doing, especially at higher flows,” Kellner said.
The trip starts on the upstream side of the bridge in Midvale. Turn east on Bridge Street off of U.S. 95 and cross the bridge to reach the put-in.
There are two options to get out of the river, not far from each other. The Presley Trailhead has the best parking. The Galloway Diversion has a boat ramp. Kellner recommends dropping someone at Presley to grab the car and taking the boat out at Galloway.
The Weiser is a great spring option because of issues with other local rivers, Kellner said.
“It’s family-friendly and it’s flowing at a time of year that a lot of other Idaho rivers are too cold or too shaded or too difficult to get to or the flows aren’t right yet,” Kellner said.
One reason for the large group float was to raise awareness of the Weiser River and a proposed dam that would alter it.
ICL would prefer to see the river improved through lessening erosion.
“There’s a lot of sediment in the river,” Kellner said.