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.
view during the hike in.
Past the initial climb, the train is relatively level and fast,
although it seems to keep going and going...
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.
gorges on Wooley Creek.
Wooley Creek is a
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
rapids are fantastic, class IV-V
read and run
to but larger than the Salmon that it feeds into..
Scott Yoder runs one of
rapids at lower flow levels.
Vengley runs a great rapid somewhere in the canyon.
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
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
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
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