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Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek

Glacier National Park

Glacier + Northern Lewis Range, Montana

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Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek

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  • Invasive species check, a small price to kayak in the park.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Ice bridge on Siyeh.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Siyeh viewed from Going-to-the-Sun Road.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • All smiles kayaking under Going-to-the-Sun Road.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Watch out for snow bridges early on in the run. Portages may be necessary.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • One of the first drops below the section that can be seen from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Some of the early slides on Siyeh.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The early sections of Siyeh are low volume but adorned with incredible scenery.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • A massive headwall decorates the sides of a long slide in the early sections of Siyeh.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Walking a portion of a slide that pushed into a partially undercut wall. Scout and make a call; flows and debris can change the hazards of each drop.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Boofing a ledge at the end of a slide on Siyeh.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Sliding down Siyeh bedrock on one of the cleaner sections.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Stromatolites, sedimentary rock layers formed by microorganisms.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Stromatolites can be found everywhere!- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • After navigating bedrock, portages, and debris, arrive at these falls, informally called Stromatolite Falls due to the sighting of the fossils in the bedrock upstream.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Scouting a line before putting back in.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • After a while, the creek opens up, and the slides get wider.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The bottom of the slide last pictured. With enough speed from the slide, the hole is no issue to clear.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The last part of the slide ends in a clear pool, and the river makes another turn down the steep landscape.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The next serious drop slams into an undercut wall. It has been run, but it was not run on this trip.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The next portion of Siyeh picks up more gradient. From here, it seems the creek simply falls off of the face of the earth.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • A perfect tiny flower. Kinnikinnick (red bearberry).- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Heavy Runner Mountain in the distance. Siyeh contintues to slide down the terrain.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Running the short section below the last portage (portage is optional) and making sure to have someone to "catch" paddlers in the pool above the next drop.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Portages were very easy on Siyeh. Bedrock is nature's sidewalk.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Walking around on the bedrock and a difficult last drop on Siyeh Creek.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The confluence of Reynolds Creek and Siyeh Creek.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Clear water, gravel bars, and slow current provide a nice break. This area had evidence of bear activity, and it was far from any trail. Make portages with haste to avoid an encounter with any bear.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Shortly after the meadows and calm water, the first steep gorge on Reynolds Creek comes into view.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The last waterfall on the first gorge of Reynolds Creek. Scout the whole set of drops before committing to the gorge. Scout and portage is on the right.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Wood hazard in a section of the first gorge on Reynolds Creek.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Above the slide with the logs, a series of drops can be run. Make sure to scout eddies and set safety.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The second part of the ledges.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Looking up at the series of ledges above the slide with wood and first waterfall on Reynolds.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The final falls (below the ledges) of the first gorge on Reynolds Creek.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Lucid water and colorful bedrock formations.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • For a while, Reynolds opens up with easier drops, which all can be scouted.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • A more serious section on Reynolds Creek.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • If you choose to portage the second gorge to the trail, putting in at Deadwood Falls is a good option.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The hole on Deadwood Falls can pack a punch.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Below Deadwood Falls, more ledges follow. The river returns to pool-drop in nature, and it can be scouted easily.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • The bottom part of the previous drop.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • After a series of ledges, Reynolds opens up to another meadow. The views are incredible.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Each new scene is awe-inspiring.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Consider portaging this slide. The left side appears to go into an undercut. Below the slide, stick close to the left bank in order to get out on the left above the next horizon line, St Mary's Falls, a Class V-VI drop.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • St. Mary's Falls (a complex and multi-part waterfall).- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Another view of St. Mary's Falls. St Mary's Falls, a Class V-VI drop.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • St. Mary's Lake is the last water body to paddle before the take-out.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
  • Enjoy the view on St. Mary's Lake.- Siyeh Creek to St. Mary's Lake via Reynolds Creek
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Wildflowers. Waterfalls. Geological site.
Cons: 
Portaging. Scouting. Bear sightings.
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Region:
Glacier + Northern Lewis Range, MT
Average Gradient: 
225.00 ft/mi (42.61 m/km)
Route Characteristics: Character:
Steep Creek, Gorge, Wooded (Forested)
Gauge URL: 
https://waterdata.usgs.gov/mt/nwis/uv?site_no=05014300
Overall difficulty: 
IV
V
Motorized watercraft allowed: 
No
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Summer
Put-in location (lat, long coordinates): 
48.7021, -113.6676
Suitable for:
Kayaks
Shuttle required: 
No
Take-out location (lat, long coordinates): 
48.6757, -113.5942
Total Distance: 
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:

Notable Hazards + River Information

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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Located in Glacier National Park, the upper reaches of Siyeh Creek are often enjoyed by hikers who use the Piegan Pass Trail. The sections of the creek downstream of Siyeh Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, however, can only be enjoyed by those with whitewater crafts. There is no trail that parallels the creek until the Continental Divide Trail meets back up with the creek after the confluence with Reynolds Creek.

Paddlers can park vehicles and put in at Siyeh Bend. If desired, paddlers may hike up a little ways on Piegan Pass Trail to put in above the tunnel (which is runnable) under the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Below the tunnel, and depending on snow pack, paddlers may find themselves having to portage an ice bridge covering the creek. It is easiest to portage on the right side of the creek.

It is about 1.8 miles from Siyeh Bend to the confluence of Reynolds Creek. The creek is a fun mix of bedrock slides, ledges, and easy portages. At around 0.5 mile, you will reach the first long bedrock slide.  Over the next half-mile or so, the canyon will gradually steepen, so scout and pick which drops you wish to run. Keep an eye out for stromatolites (cabbage-like fossils located in the bedrock on Siyeh Creek). These formations are a laminated rock formed by the growth of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). Stromatolites are Earth's oldest of fossils, and they are intriguing because they are a visual portal into the earliest emergence of life on earth.

Just before the confluence with Reynolds, the steepest part of Siyeh drops over bedrock shelves, and you can view Heavy Runner Mountain. You can portage this section on the left side of the river, put back in, and pick off a final slide before entering a meadow where Reynolds and Siyeh converge and become Reynolds Creek.

Once in the meadow, there is about a mile of flat water and intermingled wood portaging. Be cautious in this section; it is known bear habitat, and since there is no road or trail nearby, the bears in the area are not accustomed to being startled by human visitors. Move with purpose, make your presence known, and get back on the water quickly.

After the flat meadow, Reynolds becomes forested again and gradually picks up and turns into a gorge. In the gorge are a series of ledges that end in a waterfall. Scouting the gorge is easiest on the right side of the river. There is a large log in the second part of the gorge, which is a fun looking slide—if it did not have a wood hazard in it—just above the final waterfall. This slide can be portaged by running the ledges upstream, catching an eddy on river left, and portaging left, then returning back to the river in a pool just above the final waterfall, which you can then scout and/or portage.

After the gorge, Reynolds Creek opens back up into pool-drop style of bedrock ledges and rapids. At GPS coordinates 48.6694, -113.6442, get on river left to scout and portage a series of very serious drops into a bedrock crack. You may return to Reynolds below this series of drops or get onto the Continental Divide Trail and put back in at Deadwood Falls (48.6667, -113.637). If you choose to put back in just below the large crack drop, scout carefully, because there are some more serious drops not too far downstream.

Below Deadwood Falls, and just past a footbridge over Reynolds Creek, there will be a few more bedrock ledges that are worth a scout. Then, a short distance downstream, Reynolds meets the St. Mary's River at a sharp bend. Around 0.5 mile downstream of the confluence is a series of ledges that can be scouted on the right. The next drop is a more serious ledge into a slide. Take a look on river right. The rapid looks fun, but a potentially consequential current pushes into a deep undercut on river left. Following this drop, pop out around 48.668, -113.6163, where you can portage St. Mary's Falls. Get back in just downstream of the bridge over St. Mary's Falls.

In a short distance, St. Mary's River meets St. Mary's Lake. Paddle following the left shoreline, take out at the boat dock (48.6756, -113.5942), and hike up Baring Creek Trail. Take a left when the trail meets a junction and follow the trail for 0.2 mile until you reach the parking area where Going-to-the-Sun Road crosses Baring Creek just downstream of Sunrift Gorge.

Flow Information

  • 70 cfs is hilariously low. Kayaks have run it around 150 cfs, which is low but good.
  • 200 to 300 cfs is a medium flow.
  • 400 and over is high, and upper flows for what is runnable are unknown.

Last Words

  • You will need to obtain an invasive species permit from the park and have an invasive species boat check by a park ranger each time you enter the park. Please plan for additional time to do this during your visit, and please be respectful of the invasive species requirements and regulations so that the ability to kayak in the park is not compromised.
  • Carry bear spray. The area is known grizzly habitat. 
  • Check for wood each year and scout thoroughly.
  • Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed annually and opens when snow has been plowed. If Going-to-the-Sun Road is not cleared to Siyeh Bend, you can access Siyeh Creek above St. Mary's Lake. Enter the park on the east side, drive to St. Mary's lake, park where the road is open, and hike up to Siyeh Bend. Ask at the ranger station for road closure information prior to your trip.  
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