Canadian Canoe Routes

Smoky River-Mcleod Flats to Hiway 43 Bridge
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Author:  greenriver [ July 17th, 2014, 5:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Smoky River-Mcleod Flats to Hiway 43 Bridge

Smoky River from Mcleod (Smoky) Flats to Hiway 43 bridge.
July 12, 13 2014.
The flow rate at Watino was around 400 cu m/s which is in the lower part of the average for this time of the year. The flow rate at hells creek(where ever that is, but I am assuming up stream from our put in) was 175-200 cu m/s, which was also a little lower than the average for this time of year.
This was a trip I was on with the Grande Prairie Canoe Club. There were 4 gals and 4 guys on this trip. We put in at the boat launch at Mcleod flats campground. Mcleod flats(formerly Smoky Flats) is about a half hour south of Grande Prairie, maybe a little more. You go south down hiway 40 to the canfor haul road and hang a left, if youre coming from Grande Prairie. Then follow the canfor road across the Smoky then turn right shortly after. This trip was two days. One night. If I were to do this trip myself, I would definately want to make it a three day trip and spend more time kicking moose turds around. Two days is for sure easy enough, but 3 would be alot more relaxing in my mind. I found we were paddling pretty hard most of the time. It was very hot all weekend and it seemed the closer to the trucks we got, the harder we paddled. lol. My paddling partner and I were usually in last place.
I really like this 85 km stretch of river but it can get quite tricky in places actually. Shortly after we started out and passed under the bridge(maybe a few kms from the bridge) there was a real weird current that kind of sucks you in to a narrow channel and kind of hits you from both sides. The river is wide, but seems the current is narrow. I really don't know what one would call this, but it was really weird. There are some rough sections on this run and alot of it is avoidable. I did find us experimenting in the rougher stuff a bit. Although I would'nt classify it as real big white water, but something that does make you pay attention. I found that on some of the outside corners with log jams and sweepers it did want to take you that way and one really had to pay attention. Just before where we camped on Saturday night my partner and I almost had an incident. I'm going to say this would have been around km 40 ish. There was a ledge or big wave or what ever it was that stretched across the river but leaving a small opening near the left shore to get through. Everyone got through unscathed but we were not paying as much attention I guess. It kind of caught me off gaurd as I thought we had lots of time to get it over. The river was moving a lot faster than I thought I guess, and before I knew it we were in it sideways. What a rush that was. Everything seemed to be in slow mo as we sunk in the valley and came back up the top then down again. Not one time did the old green Mad River Canoe feel like tipping, but I was sure expecting that we would be going for a swim. We came out totally unscathed. I had to let out a little laughter once I knew we were safe, but my partner was not quite as happy as I was. lol. It was a good lesson for me to pay alot more attention and take that nasty old river a little more serious next time. Just goes to show how fast something could totally go wrong. A little after that spot we set up camp on a pretty large island. Although I never actually seen the river rats cabin, I was told that it was on a smaller island just down from us. I think we went around that island on the opposite side of the cabin in the morning.
There wasn't any more close calls through out the rest of the trip the next day. It was hot, smoky and I loved it. When we finally joined with the Wapiti River there were river boats parked and people swimming on the sandy beach etc. This is where the river got a lot wider and seemed to really slow down in places until our take out. This was a very enjoyable trip, and really good people again, but I do think it was just a little too hurried, but that is just me. I like to take my time and saver the trip, just like you would a real tasty meal. I guess there is only so much time in a 2 day weekend though. I know I will be doing this section of the Smoky again at another time. Although the water itself may be a little on the silty side, it is a beatiful trip.

Pictures are all randomly put in mixed with no rhyme or reason.

Author:  Ralph [ July 17th, 2014, 7:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Smoky River-Mcleod Flats to Hiway 43 Bridge

Thanks for posting. Nice pictures. I'll have to add this to my list.
Thanks, again.

Author:  Allan Jacobs [ June 7th, 2015, 10:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Smoky River-Mcleod Flats to Hiway 43 Bridge

Thanks for posting the report and the photos!
Can you help with locating the put-in? I didn't find either McLeod Flats or Smoky Flats on the topos.
Take-out was at the Hwy 34 bridge east of Bezanson?

PS. Hells Creek is 1 km upstream from the RR bridge, in turn about 10 km upstream from Daniels Flats.

It is Hwy 43. I used mytopo, which (believe it or not) shows that road as Hwy 34!

Author:  greenriver [ June 16th, 2015, 8:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Smoky River-Mcleod Flats to Hiway 43 Bridge

The take out is hiway 43 East of Bezanson upstream of the bridge. The road to the take out is half way up the hill on the Edmonton side of the bridge. The coordinates of the put in at McLeoad Flats are below. I tried to post a picture of the online map, but I couldn't seem to get it on here. Coordinates have been taken off the map, so it is not our exact put in, but in the general area.


(h ddd.ddddd°) N 54.82759° | W 118.56583°
(h ddd° mm.mmm′) N 54° 49.655' | W 118° 33.95'
(h dd° mm′ ss.s″) N 54° 49' 39.3'' | W 118° 33' 57''

Author:  Allan Jacobs [ June 17th, 2015, 2:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Smoky River-Mcleod Flats to Hiway 43 Bridge

Thanks for both clarifications!
This should be helpful information for paddlers not familiar with the area, who want to try some new.
Yours in paddling, Allan

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