Parker doing some fishing at Little Grass Valley Reservoir
The South Fork of the Feather River gets a fall
that was once hard to keep track of. Thankfully the South Fork Water
& Power agency has been very helpful providing flow
and accommodating us with ideal flows. Postings on boof and dreamflows take
care of the flow
updates. People argue a little bit of the rating of this run, I'd give
a general class IV-V rating. It's on par with most the IV-V runs in
"Best Whitewater of California".
Our plan was simple, drive down fairly early
meet up with two people we didn't know but had arranged contact with,
find the take-out, find the put-in and do the run. Sunday, meet up with
a few more new to us people, shuttle and do the run once more,
hopefully going slow and taking lots of pictures. Things of course
never do go to plan. We managed to get moving out of Redding at 10am,
and met Thomas, Ben and Stacy at a casino in Oroville. Off to the
take-out we were. What a mess of roads, with three different maps we
still struggled to find it around 1:45. Off to the put-in, which
involved a myriad of dirt roads, most of which didn't exist on maps. We
still managed to make it in just over an hour. While gearing up we saw
two kayakers hiking with boats in the canyon, and I thought "hey maybe
someone else is putting on as late as we are". By the time we were all
geared up and had just started down the trail we talked to the two guys
hiking out. They said their group of five had started at 12:30,
suffered a swim that ended up taking a half hour, and were making slow
progress so they hiked out while the rest continued. It was now 3:30,
and that combined with a lot of small events made me debate putting on
(small delays all day, bad weather, someone forgot their base layers, I
forgot my throw-rope) Thomas, Ben and Jon all were game for it, but I
opted out sensing a epic. With my decision made Jon decided to stick
together and backed out as well. We wished Thomas and Ben luck and rode
with Stacy back to our car and camping gear at the Diversion Dam.
We setup camp and sat around until dark at 7:00, surprised to see no
one from the 12:30 group that had gone for it. About 7:45 the Thomas
and Ben showed up in a truck with the two guys that hiked out earlier.
Eventually the other three came into camp late that night in back of a
hunters truck after a hike-out in the dark.
first gorge from above, typically nice and cold!
Sunday morning came around and we shuttled with
hike-out group back to their hike, and Josh, one of the early hikers
from Saturday joined us on the run. We put-in at 11:30 and were focused
on going fast, so I didn't get a lot of pictures. Let me just say the
first 10' fall has an awesome boof on the left that is super fun.
author, not missing the boof for a change...go right on the run out
rapid, the left is sticky.
thanks to Kevin Smith.
The warm up falls from above. Surprisingly the right undercut isn't
that in play. Jesse Coombs.
Justin Pat airing it out.
There is one mank rapid between the fist set and "Mad Dog". It can be
run right or left, but once below be ready to catch a large eddy on the
left, or smaller one on the right.
Vengley runs the left side of the second half of Mad Dog.
The above drop is still often portaged and has earned the name "Mad
Dog". I used to run it left and left, but have since been converted to
the very nice line down the right up top and at the bottom. It is much
cleaner than it looks like...as long as you are upright.
back up at the Mad Dog
After running or portaging Mad Dog (on the right) be ready to exit the
next rapid on the right. The left can give up some incredible rodeo
moves, and the pool below flows into the "30 footer portage"
around the corner and we were at the 30' waterfall that is said to be
shallow. Very temping during the quick portage on the right.
The waterfall is shallow, after the first descent/broken boat incident,
Rusty Sage was able to walk all the way across the base of the falls. Taylor
of the portage a few years later and ran it. Be sure to get that
Robertson ready for the delayed boof.
McQuoid with a similar line.
Below the falls two good rapids come in
succession, one a
narrow slot seen in this
and one a nice big ledge drop. Some people go for the left boof on
this, but if you miss it you end up under the ledge. Jon plugged it
moving right, and I did a delayed boof moving right and we both cleared
any backwash fine. I currently prefer the left side boof.
section is really quite stacked and class V in character. Andrew
Below the ledge is one more exit rapid to the gorge, then a fast II-III
section lasts for about a mile.
A nice ledge drop marks the start of a long, fun IV-IV+ mini gorge.
Robertson enjoys the ledge on a wonderful October day.
Salazar on the same.
South Fork Feather read and run, Trever Haagonson.
the bottom of a rapid, Trever being a good team player and checking on
middle section is chock full of good boofs, Trever Haagonson again.
Daniel Brasuell stroking the same.
Gaydos on one of the "big three" below the first gorge.
A few rapids further down and we ran this fun drop, the third
the lower "big three". It has a nasty slot on the right and the hole
above it pushes you right, so stay on your toes. Jon going
after the boof, my bad timing on the shot.
A few rapids below this one lies Post Creek, where a fifteen minute
hike can have you at a logging road and a much shorter shuttle. The log
across the river also marks the end of what we call the "Boof Section"
and is the start of the "Oregon Section, where for about a mile and a
half the river gets a little bit chunky and has more wood.
the sieve in 2008. It's been run at 400cfs by Taylor Robertson and
Charlie Center. Still a portage at 350, and full of wood in 2010.
chunky rapid immediately below the portage.
Within half a mile of the portage is one of the more dangerous rapids
on the run, a class II lead in that S-Turns into class III, then IV
with a big sieve on the right. We found a beauty of a line goal posting
two narrow rocks on the left.
Amazingly right after the sieve rapid, you enter the "California
Section", three quarter miles of high quality low angle slides, ending
with "The Crack" the last portage, which has been run by Taylor
Stay left on the ledge above the crack to avoid some high stress
Brasuell and Dianne Gaydos in the California Section.
Dianne Gaydos enjoying another sweet boof.
This run is really all about fun 3-4 foot high boofs. Jason Craig
enjoys one just above the final portage.
Below the crack is one more mank rapid and a few more class IV, then
things suddenly mellow out into several miles of tedious II-III that
has gorgeous scenery.
Brasuell and Dianne Gaydos soaking in some fall colors.
This run feels like a lot more then 8 miles. The shuttle is 45 minutes
one way too, so it makes for a long day. If you haven't done it go with
someone that knows it for a fun day. If you are confident you can lead
yourself down for an adventure.
The shuttle. There don't seem to be any quality directions for the
shuttle, or for that matter finding the take-out. Here is what worked
best for us, we approached from the north. Heading south on 70 take a
left on 162, and follow it. It makes a tricky bend at a stoplight in
Oroville that is easy to miss. Follow 162 until a right turn at
FORBESTOWN RD. After a few miles make a left on LUMPKIN RD aka 27.
Follow this road for a ways and it eventually makes a funky "Y" stay
right at this Y, the road changes from paved two-lane to a paved one
lane (but decently wide) road. Follow this road for a short ways until
a right turn on road 24 (several bullet holes in sign, dirt road).
Follow this road down past the SF Feather at Golden Trout Crossing
(good free camping, can't take out here because diversion dam is
upstream). Keep going past the SF Feather until you hit road "33" (very
small signs for 33, it's dirt as well) when in doubt stay left on the
well traveled dirt road until you see a sign that says "South Fork
Diversion Dam" on your left, follow this road (left turn off 33) down
to the diversion dam. Good camping here at your take-out as well. The
put-in: Turn your car around and drive back to right hand turn on 33.
Now when in doubt stay right and cross back over on road 24/Golden
Trout Crossing. Drive all the way back to road 27 (paved) and make a
right hand turn. Stay on the paved road for quite a ways, stay right
when the paved road forks, and stay right on this road (but don't turn
onto any dirt roads). Within about 30 minutes on this road (from
turning onto it off of 24) you should be at the put-in, Little Grass
Valley Res. There is a trail to the left of the small outhouse shaped
building, follow it to the bottom of the spillway. I found the left
side of the rocks below the spillway to be fairly easy.
out at Post Creek a an option that shortens the total shuttle time by
an hour, and gets you most of the good rapids in the run, and with no
paddle out. Celebrate!
300-500cfs are acceptable.
Feather Put In
South Fork Feather Take Out