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Wooley Creek into the California Salmon IV-V

One of the finest wilderness runs in California, Wooley Creek is rarely done due to it's remote location far from civilization centers. The water quality is phenomenal, rapids are big and fun, and the hike in isn't too bad. The only downside is that it's not a longer day on the river.

I think the gauge was around 5' when we first did this run. We had done South Fork Salmon the day before, and camped out at the trailhead to Wooley. When we hit the trail in the morning I quickly figured out that my backpack system sucks. The initial mile of this hike is a pretty brutal elevation gain, and in the sun too but once you make it up around the ridge its not too bad. The key is starting early before the sun is up. My first time we put in right above the bottom gorge, a total hike in of 2-2.5 miles. The second we hiked all the way to just before the Wooley Camp Association cabin. It's worth hiking the whole way, as the run still ended up only taking half a day including the hike. The scenery on this run is fantastic, it's one of the most beautiful places in the world.

AA view during the hike in.

Past the initial climb, the train is relatively level and fast, although it seems to keep going and going...

Don't attempt dropping to the river until the obvious fork in the trail. Take the right fork and head down it, dropping to the river just before the private property line. The upper section starts off with some of the best rapids of the run.

Scott Yoder runs a great rapid at low flows.

Rapids flow through beautiful gorges on Wooley Creek.

Wooley Creek is a watershed completely enclosed by a wilderness area, and the water quality reflects that. Scott Yoder soaks it in.

After the first gorge the river mellows out for a short section, and the trail comes near the water. If you partake of only the short hike in, this is the place to start and action is good right from the get go with minimal warm up.

Jon Vengley warms up on Wooley. 

The rapids are fantastic, class IV-V read and run drops, similar to but larger than the Salmon that it feeds into..

Yoder runs one of the larger rapids at lower flow levels.

Jon Vengley runs a great rapid somewhere in the canyon.

A run on this section of Wooley Creek is very fast. You'll most likely spend more time hiking than kayaking, but it's still worth it with the scenery.

 The culmination of this section is "fat lady sings" a big, fun rapid best run left of center at all flows.

It's also possible to access Wooley Creek by first running Bridge Creek, which will make Wooley Creek a hurried frenzy. The upper section is in general a little tougher than the lower at high water levels, and very similar at medium to low flows. Wooley Creek is a major tributary of the Cal-Salmon, one of  five creeks in California which support a summer steal head run. It is also replete with forests of poison oak and ticks. To reach the trailhead you drive about 4-5 miles up the Salmon from Hwy 96 and park at Wooley Creek trailhead and then hike on in. Google maps marker to the ideal put-in. Takeout directly across from the trailhead at Brannon Bar. It's best from 5'6" to 6' on the Salmon River gauge seen on the drive up, or 1,500 to 3,500 on the Salmon River Gauge.

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