Miles, One or two days. Put-in:
2,450’ Take-out: 1,050’ For a total
gradient of 1,400’according toGoogle
Flowing south from Mount Shasta, the McCloud River is
scenery and fishing. With a natural base flow of over 700cfs, the
McCloud could be the only year round multi-day run in California. Theupper
for seven miles until it is impounded in the McCloud Reservoir, where
the majority of water is piped into the Iron Canyon Reservoir, which is
a fore bay for thePG&EPit
5 powerhouse on the Pit River.
Because of this diversion, the lower McCloud rarely has
kayak, even in the spring. Curious of what the run contained,Dan
Thurber, James Mitchell and
myself decided to put in for two days on a
“minimum” flow of 600cfsabove
To shorten the shuttle and keep things interesting, we hoped
on Squaw Valley Creek, which through word of mouth was a good class IV
run with two smaller waterfalls. Unfortunately the creek looked too
low, and taking the second shortest shuttle option we went for the Ash
Creek put in. Normally PG&E maintains the road to the McCloud
Reservoir Dam, but not this year.
finishing work at a ski area I thought I was done shoveling snow for
and James get started.
of getting through the snow bank was looking bleak when we a
local fisherman drove up in a Jeep, and after little begging, agreed to
drive us to the put-in. Not wanting to waste his time, Dan and I got
dropped off directly below the dam. Feeling sick, James wisely opted
out of our adventure.
sure hope we have everything we need….
initial flow was “30%”
getting into the afternoon, we set off with warm weather and
cold water. They sure do release the water in style.
first thing we noticed outside of the scenery was low flows. Most
groups put-in lower down so tributaries raise the levels, but we
didn’t have that option. Thankfully the boulder gardens all
had routes, but we did do our fair share of gorilla boating. As
tributaries trickled in, the water level slowly came up, although it
was still low water at best.
in a typical lower McCloud boulder bar drop, there are miles of
Creek helped flows a bit more, but due to the nature of the river
it wasn’t what I would call quality.
The boulder gardens would have been epic with flows of
had far less then that, and it had less to do rock dodging, and too
much to do with rock bouncing. Eventually we worked out way past
Ah-di-na campground, the normal put-in. The gradient mellowed out, and
character changed to class II for many miles. We hoped to push past the
confluence with Squaw Valley Creek the first day, but wanted to camp in
the last bit of sunlight too. Assuming we had not noticed the
confluence, we choose a campsite and setup for the evening.
upstream, the McCloud contains miles and miles of rapids like
this above the Squaw Valley Creek confluence.
gets into the zone.
Valley Creek is a major tributary of the McCloud River, and to
our delight at the confluence the flow bumped up by a third. (At higher
flows Squaw Valley Creek can contribute half or more) The
riverbed also starts to get occasional sections of bedrock, and a few
beautiful mini gorges reminiscent of the South Fork Smith.
enjoys one of the better rapids on the lower McCloud.
scenery on the lower McCloud is really what it’s all
is a typical rapid in the lower section of the McCloud.
wildlife is abundant too, we saw eagles, osprey, and one bear
drinking out of the river. Out of three trips I have seen bear twice on
into the run, rapids space out a lot more with one larger IV+
thrown into the mix, well described inCalifornia
rapids peter out into the occasional class II with long
sections of flat water between rapids.
having fun on one of the last good rapids.
Jerimy McNeely runs the same with a lot more water.
In the spring with flows around 1,200 it's considerably better.
Jim Pepin comes through a big hole.
Typical read and run...
McCloud is a fantastic run with flows around 1,500cfs,
we were disappointed with the run. We hit rocks in every rapid
minus two or three of the better ones. Without the diversion, the
McCloud would be the perfect late summer two day event, but as it is,
water comes into the run too late to justify slogging down to the Squaw
Valley Creek confluence. There are really just a handful of good rapids
in the twenty plus miles on the river, which picks
up at high flows. For class III-IV boaters looking for an overnight to
get started on, I’d recommend this run if flows are above
a great job describing the long shuttle too.