Local Rivers

Chili Bar

This is California’s most popular III playboating run during the summer months that many boaters run repeatedly and never get tired of.   Crowds are sometimes a problem on weekends during the summer.  It’s often called the “Upper” run to distinguish it from the “Lower”, or Gorge run. The rapids are fun, frequent, and forgiving with excellent play at high and low water levels. Take out: From Sacramento you can take the Ponderosa exit off of Highway 50. Turn left after the off ramp. After the light, turn right on Lotus Road. Follow this about 10 miles; you will go past “The River Store” after about nine miles. Continue until the Road “T’s” with Highway 49. Turn left and park immediately on the left before the bridge. Put in: Get back on Highway 49 and go the opposite way (towards Placerville). Follow it for some ten miles until you come to Highway 193 which will be on the left just as you enter town. Take 193 three miles down to the river.

North Fork American River – Chamberlain Falls

The North Fork of the American River – This is one of the most spectacular scenic runs for being so close to civilization. In addition, its rapids are negotiable by any intermediate/advanced boater with a reliable roll.  At high water, 3000 cfs and up, the river is more continuous with less time to prepare between rapids. At Lower flows (1500 cfs and below) the river is a boulder choked canyon.  The run starts at Iowa Hill Bridge and runs 9.5 miles down to Ponderosa Bridge at average of 36 feet per mile. A quarter mile below the Iowa Hill Bridge starts the Chamberlain Falls Gorge with Chamberlain Falls followed by Staircase  and Bogus Thunder.

Merced River below El Portal

If you can get on the Merced at higher flows, around 3k – 6k this is one of the best playboating runs in the state, also at normal levels one of the best transitional class III-IV runs in California. At lower flows, the first mile below put-in at the highway 140 bridge (a mile below El Portal) is continuous class III with some low IV. Although the whitewater requires constant maneuvering, visibility is good, so you can pick the best route without getting out of your boat to scout. Despite the 100 fpm gradient, rapids are not as tough as the class IVs downstream, which are more dramatic affairs separated by pools and class II-III rapids.

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January 17th, 2018

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