Upper Liard River

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Kevin Kriese
Trip Date : 
August 26
Additional Route Information
292 km
8 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Fly in to Caribou Lakes.  Beaver float plane is based in Watson Lake.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1.  We flew in to Caribou Lakes and our pilot put us at a nice camp very close to the outlet.  This camp is in the trees and looks to be used every year.  Good tent sites and firewood. 

Day 2. We paddled out of the lake into the small outlet stream.  Its about 6m wide and has lots of shallow spots and a bit of debris.  Its a really fun paddle for the first 15 km through willow meadows.  We had to get out of the boats several times and bottomed out lots more.  I think the water levels were average for this time of year.  As we got closer to the LIard, the creek enters heavier forest and there is more debris and tight turns. We had to quickly get out of the boats to avoid a river wide sweeper.  At 18km we join the Liard proper.  Its lively for the next bit with a sweeper full across the river several km below the junction.  A few OK campsites. We camp at Km 26 (8 k below junction) on RR.  Not much dry wood.  Overall this day is fun, beautiful and lively.  Because the river is tight and wood hazard I'd rate it an easy II.  You need to be able to move the boat!

Day 3.  River is lively with lots of rocks to avoid, but easy lines everywhere.  Lots of wood hazard.  about half way we had to portage around a major logjam.  Highlight was a cow and calf moose in the river; the cow huffed at us and the calf didn't want to move!  We paddle 38 km in just over 4 hours moving time.  Very fun day.  We camp just above the Inge River on RR.

Day 4.  Easy river all day.  A few boulders and braids.  Some decent campsites.  Very little sign of people.  Paddled 50 km in 5.5 hours.  Camp on RR gravel bar.  

Day 5  Nice simple river with a few braids.  Good campistes are not common.  Saw a Lynx and a trapper taking a snowmobile upriver in a jetboat.  This is the only traffic we will see.  Distance 47.8 km in 4 hrs 47 minutes. 

Day 6.  Nice day.  River does a few big braids and is fairly quick.  Big cutbank is quite pretty.  Not much camping in the first section but lots of gravel bars last half of day.  We camped on RR massive gravel bar.  Travel 40.8 km in 3h 55m.   

Day 7.  First 20 km are braided and fun and quick.  Lots of good gravel bars for camp.  A few good logjams to watch out for but easy to avoid.  Saw two moose.  We pass the Frances late in the day.  Its clearer than the Liard so we filled our water bottles.  There was no camping for 6 km belwo the Frances.  We camped on the first gravel bar on RR just below the Rancheria.  Decent campsite.  Great day of easy paddling.  Km today 54.6 km  Moving time 5h 22m.

Day 8.  No camping below Rancheria for several km   Then several braids in a big river.  Current is still pretty quick. Lots of moose sign.  This was a nice finish day.  We covered 32.6km in 3 hrs. 

Summary; this not a hard river but it requires enough skilll to move a loaded boat in a narrow creek with log hazard.  Its quite pretty in the upper section, and there isn't much traffic.  Camping is generally good if you watch for sites.    

Maps Required
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Post date: Sat, 10/23/2021 - 18:24


Thanks for the memory, Kevin.  My wife and I did the lower part of this run with two other guys several years back, came in via one of the other feeder rivers from the north.  You came into the Liard lots further upstream than we did, as I think we only did the lower 100 miles (160 km) down to the Upper Liard bridge.  We only spent 3 days on the Liard if I remember right, last camp was I think just below the Rancheria River confluence?