Box Canyon run of the
Sacramento River is the classic kayak run for
Shasta area boaters. From a testing ground for newer boaters, to an
after work run for experienced boaters making the “challenge
moves” this run has something for a wide range of boaters.
I think my first trip was similar to a lot of people’s first
trip down The Box. I remember the being very nervous about doing a run
that was in a boxed in canyon, and that was compounded by the notorious
put-in. I distinctly remember being gripped on the put-in the first
time I went down it, clipping a borrowed creek boat onto the rope and
slowly traversing the cliff. Kayak this run enough and next thing you
know you’re cruising down it in flip-flops with a playboat on
your shoulder. From Lake Siskiyou head down the trail on river left,
and when you see a big clear spot head off to the right and follow the
small trail to the steep part.
right when you see this big
Thanks goes to everyone who did work on putting the rope and ladder in.
put-in for this run lies directly
below Lake Siskiyou, and gives
quite a view if it’s spilling and you glance back upstream
from putting in.
It's often cold and dark in the deep canyon only minutes from
Box Canyon generally runs from mid winter into late
although there is no online gauge, there is a stick gauge just upstream
from Cantera Loop river access. The run is generally more class III
around 4’6”, moving into class IV around
5’ and IV+ once it’s around 6’. It still
goes at 6’ and above, everything goes but there are some
macking holes at high flows, nothing terminal though.
The rapids on this run are surprisingly hard to remember, but some key
features stick out. This rapid has a great boof and is just after a
drainpipe comes in, and is known affectionately as “Brown
Trout” or “Sewage Rapid”. We were running
it at 5’3” when all these pictures were taken.
Yoder boof stroking it.
Marty Cronin boofing the Brown Trout.
At higher flows Box Canyon gets fairly continuous through the canyon,
this rapid leads into a ledge hole and the final slide.
Vengley followed by Scott Yoder,
shows the character of the run at
Yoder takes the left boof on the
Right after the ledge hole is the last rapid of the gorge proper, Eagle
Slide has many different routes but is generally run in some
combination on the river right.
Yoder on Eagle Slide
After this rapid there are only two more rapids of decent
Cantera Loop access, one of which has a sticky hole at the bottom
center when the run is between 4-5’. Most locals do the short
and take out and Cantera Loop and do laps
if motivated. Occasionally we run all the way to Dunsmuir, as we did
this day. This was only my third time down to Dunsmuir, the run stays
quality, but you want levels to be above 5’ or it gets a bit
too rocky for my taste. The lower section has less distinct rapids, but
rapids also link together making in some ways a tougher run than the
actual canyon. There is one rapid that stands out in the lower run, a
boulder garden with a few sieves that are marginally in play.
and Joel Vengley blue angel
the boulder garden.
Yoder brings it home through the
through Mossebrae falls is an
experience never forgotten. It's best to stop and soak it all
in; Shannamar Dewey.
of a kind experience.
About a mile of boogie water
lies downstream, and
you are at the
takeout in Dunsmuir soon enough. We always takeout at river left just
below the bridge. Take a respective right or left turn at the Chevron
gas station and follow the road to the river park. Once you know the
lines the gorge can be done in a half hour, including the hike in, if
flows are above 5’, making it a perfect run to do if
you’re driving by. Box Canyon is by far one of my all time
of Mt Shasta from the shuttle
has been a gauge for years, but
the information was never shared. That all changed in 2011 when the
gauge went live on the
Siskiyou County website, making
it much easier to plan a trip for
the Box Canyon of the Sacramento. The gauge is in cfs, where roughly
equals 4'6" on the stick gauge. Logistics are simple and can be done
via google maps or an AAA map. If taking out in Dusnmuir the best
access is on Prospect Road, just off the first exit when headed south.