Butte Creek starts off with
a two-mile downhill hike on a gated road
that really should be open. Thankfully the hike has good scenery and is
a nice warm up. Arriving at the river Scott and I noticed that they
were diverting a lot of water for the hydro project, something that had
not been going on during his previous trip. With dreamflows giving us
flows of 375 and the diversion taking out one to two hundred cfs, we
knew it would be low flows but weren’t willing to hike back
Scotty and I geared up in the California sunshine,
degrees in March. Although flows were low, the rapids were still quite
we made quick work down to the first portage around “Three
Deaths Undercut”. We portaged on the left and seal launched
in to run the final drop of the rapid.
The very bottom of the portage rapid.
Looking back upstream at the portaged rapid, not too nice.
All the rapids on Butte
Creek tend to blend together, but there were
some fun bedrock rapids mixed with boulder gardens, most surprisingly
clean for so little water. A few portages were thrown in but one had a
nice seal launch and looks like it would be great at regular flows.
The scenery on Butte Creek is also of the highest quality, most notably
for a run so close to town.
Eventually we made it to
Chimney Rock rapid, which normally has an epic
boof and the large hole at the bottom. With the low water both the boof
and the hole were tamer than normal.
Scotty boofing Chimney Rock rapid.
After Chimney Rock only a few rapids remained, one of which has a
sticky hole at all flows as can be seen in the
. Scott had an epic ride in
the hole and eventually pulled off a sweet oldschool ender to escape
the hole and stay in his boat.
I still enjoyed Butte Creek
at low flows but needless to stay would
like to see it with a healthy amount of water. Shuttle directions are
in The Best Whitewater of California, a book that should be owned by
all Californians and future Cali travelers. Dreamflows
the Butte Creek gauge, it normally flows in the spring or after heavy
Thanks to Scott Yoder for filming and editing the
video of our
trip down Butte, and for supplying photographs from a previous trip.