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Highway 49 to Bridgeport on the South Fork Yuba

   49 to Bridgeport is a classic run on the South Fork Yuba that is often used as a stepping stone for aspiring class V kayakers. If you're comfortable on the Cal-Salmon, Burnt Ranch Gorge and Giant Gap, this is the place to be. For solid class V kayakers it's a fun half day run, or if flows are appropriate it makes a nice combination with a section above it; Purdons.

Highway 49 bridge overhead and 1,200cfs in the South Fork Yuba.
Daniel Brasuell has a nice mile by mile write-up at A Wet State, and an IK biased write-up exists at California Creeks. 

The minimum flow was once thought to be 1,000cfs, but as boat length has decreased, so has the minimum flow, which is currently considered to be 450 on the dreamflows gauge. The minimum flow is also a very nice friendly flow if the run is a step up for you, most of the major hydraulics are out of play and there is only one portage. At 1,200 Mr Squiggly lives up to his name and there are some nice big hydraulics, and a sneak on the left avoids the only mandatory portage. 

Mike Ward enjoys Mr Squiggly at 600cfs.

Below Mr Squiggly the river tapers off for a while before picking up again with a fun mini-gorge.

At lower flows the run is all about the boofs, and they are in good form all over the run.

David Maurier runs the left line at "ski jump".

At higher flows a center line opens up at Ski Jump, Will Pruitt takes it at 1,500cfs.

At 450 some of the key rapids mellow out, most notably "Eat the Meat" and "Corner Pocket". With flows above 1,000 the boofs get a little shorter and these rapids get spicy. 

Taylor Cavin runs the aptly named Eat the Meat at 1,200cfs.

Justin Patt eats the meat at 1,200cfs.

Taylor Cavin rides a big tail stand out of Eat the Meat at 1,200.

Even if we run the harder Purdons section upstream, there is no relaxing until past Corner Pocket, which contains an undercut with a lot of water going into it. From my experience at 450 it's pretty mellow, 900 is tough because the boof isn't in but there is still plenty of water, and at 1,200 there is a nice boof in play. Above 1,500 the hole gets much larger, but all the water flushes downstream so the undercut isn't an issue.

Justin Patt gets the boof at 1,200cfs.

Looking downstream at the bottom of Corner Pocket at 1,200. The large hole feeds under the wall on the left, not a place to swim.

Taylor Cavin in the entrance at 600cfs.

Taylor Cavin going left at 600cfs.

Around the World, aka Typewriter, is just a hundred yards downstream of Corner Pocket., and is one of the most fun rapids.

The entrance.

Daniel Basuell on the second move of Around the World.

Of course you want to give the person in front of you plenty of room just in case they don't get around the world.

Below around the world is the best section of the river, rapids come one after another in quick succession.

Justin Patt in the Hairy Ferry, which no longer is a tough ferry unless flows are low.

  At 450 "Hairy Ferry" is indeed that, a class IV ferry just above a sieve. Above 700 you can just paddle over the covered sieve, taking away the hazard. You certainly don't want to be out of control, or out of your boat above this one.

There are some hazards in the run, giving it a class V rating, but most are easily avoidable. Thankfully most of the spots that could produce swims don't have hazards below, excepting Corner Pocket. Shuttle logistics are easy, you can shuttle on either side of the river, but river right is faster. Use Pleasant Valley Road to a right on Birchville Road, and another right onto 49. Google Maps link to the put in on Highway 49.

The take out at Bridgeport has a covered bridge well worth checking out too.

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