If you follow the braided channels of the Madison River north of Ennis, you’ll come to Ennis Lake, a favorite summertime haunt for swimmers and boaters. Continue northward, and the leisurely floating gives way to adrenaline pumping adventure as you plunge into the whitewater rapids of Bear Trap Canyon. Although the 6,000 acre Bear Trap Canyon Wilderness Area has excellent backpacking and hiking opportunities, the Madison’s roaring path through the canyon is, unsurprisingly, the area’s crown jewel.
Flanked by soaring cliffs, the river is scattered with large boulders, making it a rapid-chaser’s paradise. Every rapid has multiple lines, making it challenging enough for experts and intermediates alike. The trip through the canon starts off with a series of class III/IV (depending on the line and flow) rapids. Then it reaches a crescendo with the legendary Kitchen Sink, a class VI/V rapid that is an absolute favorite. Finally it tapers off again into the the class III/IV range.
With its series of fast-paced and challenging rapids, its easy to see why Bear Trap Canyon is a favorite among whitewater rafters and kayakers. Unlike much of the Madison, this 10 mile stretch is all about the rapids. Most anglers prefer the legendary fishing above Ennis Lake, or after the river widens out below Bear Trap Canyon. That being said, it’s still the Madison, so fishing the canyon from a boat during the late spring and early fall can be a rewarding and exciting experience.
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