Updated: March 24, 2006
North Fork of the Feather
This North Fork of the Feather flows through a beautiful granite canyon along Highway 70 with a series of dams and powerhouses plugging the river. In the past all of the water was diverted from one powerhouse to the next leaving dry rocks in between the dams and reservoirs. American Whitewater worked hard to secure dam releases to irrigate these rocks. Now on select weekends during the summer and fall, the dams release enough water for rafters and kayakers to float the river. The best raft run is below Cresta dam and runs five miles through some classic rapids to a take out above Poe Reservoir.
For the summer 2004 runnable flows are expected to be released on the last weekend of each month from June to October.
When the river is scheduled to flow, American Whitewater sets up a booth at take out and accepts small donations in exchange for a shuttle. There isn't enough room for all of the boaters to park their cars near put-in so this is a nice service.
The run starts by lowering your boats to a put-in below the Cresta Dam. You'll enjoy two Class III rapids during the first mile. After Grizzly creek enters on the left you'll be floating by Highway 70 and an alternate (easier) put-in.
Below here are several straightforward rapids which are a good warm up for the Class IV County Line Falls which deserves a scout. Below here are quality rapids including the Class IV rapids The Wave and Cave Rapid. Be careful at Cave Rapid because there is a dangerous undercut cave on the left at the bottom. Immediately following Cave Rapid is Rock Garden which is the final Class IV rapid.
You can take out about a mile past Rock Garden at Shady Rest Take-out, but most trips continue down the river for some fun Class II and III rapids. Just before take-out is the final rapid, Rock-n-Wrap, which is very well named. This rapid deserves a scout since there is no clean line for rafts. Take-out immediately follows Rock-n-Wrap on the left. You can slide your boats up a concrete ramp or carry them up a primitive trail to the parking lot.
If you're interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out cacreeks's North Fork Feather description.
To reach Poe Reservoir (take-out): You'll want to get onto Highway 70 in Oroville and head up the North Fork of the Feather river canyon. Just past Poe Reservoir is a dirt road down to a large parking lot and power generation station. This is a great place to park and take advantage of a shuttle service to put-in.
To reach Cresta Dam (take-out): Get back onto Highway 70 and keep driving up the river. Just before the Elephant Butte Tunnel are places to park on the right and left hand side of the road for an easier put in. If you need to run the first two Class III rapids, drive past these turnouts and drive through the tunnel. Hold your breath. You can park on the left and walk to a trail that leads to the river. You'll need to hike your boat single file down a trail and lower your boats off a cliff. Adventure!
At this time there are no outfitters with permitted to run this section of the North Fork of the Feather.
Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.
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