Smiths Fork River: From the National Forest to Cokeville

CLASS - II

GRADIENT - 40 ft/miles

LENGTH - 25 miles

FLOAT TIME - 7 to 10 hours

BLM QUAD MAPS - Afton, Fontenelle

PUT IN - below Poker Hollow Campground

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - state land upstream from Cokeville

Smiths Fork River

USGS Gage Station CFS near Border.

Smiths Fork River

 

The Smiths Fork River begins in the Salt River Range east of Smoot, and then flows south past the Tunp Range to the Bear River near Cokeville. Access to the upper section is good and may be reached by turning off US-89 at mile #71, about seven miles south of Smoot. Here the Smiths Fork River Road heads east for six miles to a junction with the Dry Fork Road. Continue east for about one mile to the river and a landing where a two-track road crosses the river on an old wooden bridge. This landing is probably the best point to put in at on the upper section. You could continue up river for several more miles to Poker Hollow Campground, but this stretch has a lot of downed timber across the river.

You can also reach the upper landing, and scout most of the lower end of the river, by taking W-232 (Smiths Fork River Road) northeast from Cokeville for 12 miles to a landing (state land) at the end of the of the pavement. (Also at this landing is a junction where you can cross over the mountains to the upper Hams River.) Continue on the dirt road and follow along the river for eight miles to the middle landing at a bridge. From there you cross over a ridge on the Dry Fork Road and join the other road coming from Smoot (11 miles).

Beginning at the old wooden bridge landing, the river flows through a small forested valley. The upper Smiths Fork is a marginally boatable river (more like a stream) and is suitable for kayaks and small canoes. This stretch is a narrow Class II and contains fallen trees and beaver dams and has a few sharp turns. After about an hour, you leave the national forest and enter BLM land. Here the trees are further back on the hillsides and you pass through dense thickets of willow. A bit further down is a two-track road coming in from the right. Here Trespass Creek (on the left) and West Fork Creek (on the right) join the river. About five miles further is a two-track road crossing where Hobbie Creek comes in from the left. Here the valley begins to widen and the hillsides are covered with sage brush. Three more miles downstream is the bridge at the middle landing. Float time is about four hours.

From the middle landing down, the river is an easier and less restricted Class II. It is fairly fast and has four fences (maybe a couple more that where washed out when I was here), but no real tricky spots. About an hour below the middle landing is a low bridge and an hour further downstream is the next landing (at the junction with the road going over to the Hams River). This is fenced state land here and the access is upstream from a ranch bridge where Coal Creek comes in from the left. Float time is about two hours.

I have not floated below this point, but if you decide to continue down to Cokeville (about 15 miles), you will have to ask permission to trespass in order to take out as there are no public access points. The river below flows through hay meadows and past several houses, so you should expect to find a few bridges and several fences.

Photo Caption (image not shown): The Smiths Fork below the national forest travels through a broad valley with easier floating than its upper reaches.