Kakwa River (AB) IV

please note: this entry is based on 2 trips on this river (180cms, 230cms) if you have better local knowledge please add to it.

A big water multiday trip with no required hiking. Rafting companies run this as a 3 day trip, though it can be done in 2 or even 1 day when there are high flows and a strong crew. The run begins with a mellow float which picks up into some grade I-II rapids and somewhere around the 25Km mark (3-4hrs) you arrive at Little Kakwa Falls(IV). This can be identified by a quickening pace in the river associated a sharp left turn with steep gravel bank on the Left and a large gravel bar on the Right. Despite its name it is a rapid made of a combination of pressure waves and holes, not an actual waterfall. Many groups select this as Camp #1.

Below Little Kakwa Falls the pace is steady with grade III/III+ big water, lots of haystacks, a few holes, and plenty of log jams in the corners.

Watch for a small creek pouring into the Kakwa from the left down a steep canyon wall as the river swings to the Right. In this section there are a number of surfable waves and even eddy service at some levels. This is an alternate Camp #1.

The river continues with more grade III big water until its confluence with the Smoky River. This is a possible Camp #2. From the confluence there is ~4hrs of Grade I-II to the take out, with the exception of some grade III/IV when the Smoky meets the Cutbank River.

A large orange train bridge towering overhead will signify that you still have a long way to go :( keep paddling until you see the Smoky Flats Recreation area on river right. You'll know you've missed the takeout by ~1Km if you pass under the one way logging bridge that provides access to the recreation area.

River Alerts

If this space is blank there have been no alerts posted for this specific river.


Run Information


The take out is at MacLeod Flats recreation area(Canfor FMA) a.k.a Smoky Flats.

From Grande Prairie go South on Hwy 40 turn Left(East) onto Canfor Road (31.6Km from the junction of Hwy40 and Hwy 666). Follow Canfor Road past the inspection trailer located at the entrance. Continue for 3.8Km to Y intersection and stay Left. Follow for 4.3Km and accross the Smoky River and turn Right. Follow for ~2Km to the river and campsites.

If coming from Grande Cache Canfor Road 53Km North of the Kakwa River bridge on Hwy 40

Put In

From the Takeout travel South on Hwy 40 for 98Km to the Kakwa River Bridge and the Kakwa River Provincial Recreation Area.


Big Water Multiday trip

Length & Time

86km, Multi_Day


Number, percentage, whatever works for you

Flow Information

Flow is highest with snow melt in June but will come up with significant rain. It is runnable as low as 40, however flows greater than 150cms are needed to create the feel of river described above.



Other Resources

River Alerts

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