Horsethief Creek (BC) IV

Based on our run on 31st Aug 2010, this river is a great alternative to Toby if thats too high, as its very close & easy to get to. Apart from first Class VI fall near start (Which is obvious due to ominous horizon line) & following 40m slide which can be run, this is nowhere near as commiting. However, be careful of eddy below falls, as its difficult to make it across to other side, due to conflicting currents, unless you want to run slide, or can make the eddy on river right below first ledge entering the slide section. Otherwise, portage above falls on river left, and get in at bottom of slide. This is a remote, medium-volume run with continous whitewater in a boulder bed with impressive scenery. However, water is cold and river is shallow, with large, sharp boulders and many pourovers. The river continually snakes it way down round many bends, making constant switching from side to side & good river reading skills a must. At lower levels, it is likely to be more technical, as you will need to pick your line through the boulder fields rather than bounce over them, as we tended too. At higher levels its likely to resemble a narrower lower K Horse. Towards the bottom you need to be especially careful of trees as these collect on the bends.

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Based on my(Andrew) experience at the inaugural Horsethief Creek race(Aug 2011) I would give this river an over all rating of grade IV-/IV. The consensus on the level by people who frequently paddle it placed it at medium. The continuous nature of the rapids and the numerous large-ish holes, as well as the grade IV- section lead me to believe the run is harder than grade III. Please be advised that this opinion is based on my sole run of the river but it was the consensus of the group racing that day

This is a remote, medium-volume run with very continuous whitewater in a boulder bed with impressive scenery. The water is cold and the river is shallow, there are many large sharp boulders, as well as numerous pour-overs & holes. The river continually snakes its way down round many sharp bends, making good river reading skills a must. Towards the bottom of the run there are frequent large log jams that collect on the bends.

From the bridge the river starts off with ~20 minutes of flat water before before dropping into some grade II/II+ rapids. This eventually leads to a burly Class VI waterfall(Which is obvious due to an ominous horizon line with associated mist) followed by a 40m grade V slide which can be run. It is possible to portage both drops on river right by bushwacking through the forest and up a small hill before reaching a steep gravel path down to the river, however from this side of the river you are unable to view the drops as you pass them by.

After the slide the river is non-stop III/III+ before melding into a brief section of grade IV-/IV and then mellowing to grade II for the last 20 minutes of the run.

River Alerts

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The symbols can be clicked on and provide some simple explanations of why they are there. You can also use the symbols to get directions from Google Maps to the put in/takeout. A handy thing!

Run Information


From four way stop in Radium, go West on Forsters Logging Rd for 1.3km to junction with Horsethief Creek Forest Service Rd. Turn West(left) and continue for 2.8km across railroad tracks, then across 2 bridges, and onto junction with Steamboat Mountain Service Rd on right, Stay left & go 6.2km to a four way. Turn South (left) onto Westside Rd and go 1.7km to a small bridge on Forsters Creek. Continue on another 4.2km to bridge on Horsethief Creek, and park off the road on river right upstream of bridge.

Put In

Return from take out 5.9km over Forsters Creek, to four way & turn West (left) on Horsethief Creek Forest Service Rd. Follow road for 4.3km to junction with Horsethief-Forsters Forest Service Road on the North (Right). Stay left on Horsethief Creek Rd for 5.6km to a small trail that drops off on left at a 30 degree angle to road, just before the km 19 sign post. If this road is open, follow it 300m down hill, turn left and follow trail to old bridge site.

Alternate Put In: From put in option one drive on a further 4km to the road bridge. A seal launch off the bridge can liven this bit up.

Please be advised that there have been some issues with local land owners/lessees regarding trespassing kayakers in the past and the bridge is the preferred put in option.


Med level=long,continous,Class III bouncy run in twisting canyon.

Length & Time

16km, Half_Day



Flow Information

Fed by glacial run off & snow melt, likely to be best in Spring to late Summer.


The best guage is a large river boulder on the right hand bank just upstream of the take out bridge. Part of the boulder sticks out towards bottom. If water is just touching top of this bottom part it's at medium, if it's below then it is low, and if it's above it's high.


Other Resources

River Alerts

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