Intermediate boaters enjoy the increased challenge of the Class III “Chili Bar” and “Gorge” runs, and expert kayakers spend hours perfecting their rodeo moves in the world-famous Chili Bar Hole, Maya, First Threat, Barking Dog, and other play spots. Mile 11.4: BLM river access at Greenwood Creek. The whitewater is mostly class II+ with ten class III's, two class III+ rapids, and one class IV. Mile 20.5: Take-out at Salmon Falls Bridge on the right side, upstream of the bridge. Unfortunately, once the easily found gold was removed, the miners made a mess of things with their hydraulic pumps, causing folks downstream to complain. Expert paddlers find top-level challenges on the upper stretches of the North and South forks during spring runoff, and they have a great time the rest of the year on the river… Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Mile 18.2: Weber Creek enters from river left in the middle of Bouncing Rock Rapid (Class III). After your day on the water make sure to visit one of our photography companies to see your action shots. The Coloma-Lotus Valley is the major destination of the South Fork, shaped by the river today as in 1848. Most people scout the rapid, always on river left. Mile 16.9: Satan's Cesspool Rapid (Class III+) is the biggest rapid of the Gorge run. This is a great place to put in to run the lower section of the river. Camp Lotus is one of the old-time favorite put-in/take-out spots, but you can also use Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park or Henningsen Lotus Park. Intermediate boaters enjoy the increased challenge of the “Chili Bar” and “Gorge” runs, and the expert kayakers spend hours perfecting their rodeo moves in the world-famous Chili Bar Hole, First Threat, Maya, and other play spots. The South Fork of the American River boasts the most popular whitewater rafting and kayaking west of the Rockies, and the area provides many other great opportunities for recreation on and off the river. Mile 9: River access at Camp Lotus (for a fee). Some people choose to start at Chili Bar, camp at Camp Lotus and continue on to do the Gorge run on day 2. All rights reserved. All rights reserved. Mile 18.6: Hospital Bar Rapid (Class III) is the last big ride. South Fork American River Rafting > Mile-by-Mile The South Fork of the American is a Class III river. Eventually, the mining operations were shut down, and today you can still find huge trenches created by the miners 150 years ago. Learn the art of kayaking in a friendly and supportive environment! Located in the foothills of the Sierras, the South Fork of the American is one of the most beloved day trips in the United States.The river is generally runnable year round because of dam-controlled flows and makes for great boating no matter what the season. Those who decide to invest the time in learning to navigate the river themselves will also find the South Fork a great destination. Boat tags are required for private boaters. The South Fork offers some of the best whitewater rafting with proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area. Looking for fellow paddlers? Check out our links page for kayaking clubs and links to other paddling-related web sites, or post in the forum to find like-minded paddlers. Upstream from the Chili Bar stretch, expert boaters can test their skills on the Kyburz stretch, Slab Creek, Ice House, and other runs. Mile 0.6: Meatgrinder (Class III+) is a long, tricky rapid with some big hydraulics. Kayaking Troublemaker Rapid – Photo by Nicko Hawkins, The South Fork flows along the foothills of the Sierras, Length: 20 miles (shorter runs possible) Gradient: 23 fpm Difficulty: III+ Season: Year round Permits: Boat tags Rec. This discovery triggered the California Gold Rush of 1849, sometimes referred to as the largest human migration for a single purpose since the Crusades. In Summer, when temperatures can reach into the 100s, the cool water and fun rapids are perfect for everyone from families to college students. Copyright ©1995 - 2020 Coloma-Lotus Business Council. The American River's South Fork is California's standard beginner to intermediate whitewater run that many rafters run repeatedly and never outgrow. Located in the foothills of the Sierras, the South Fork of the American is one of the most beloved day trips in the United States.The river is generally runnable year round because of dam-controlled flows and makes for great boating no matter what the season. Mile 5.7: River access at Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. Mile 15.8: Fowler's Rock (Class III) is the first Class III Rapid downstream of Troublemaker. Weekends during the summer are extremely busy - if you can schedule a trip on a weekday, it will be a much less crowded (and probably more pleasant) experience. First Threat is a nearly river wide hole great for kayak surfing. First Threat on the South Fork of the American River | Photo by Sami Hawkins. ARTA River Trips (800) 323-2782 is a non-profit organization that runs 18 of the best rivers in the West. There are several schools offering instruction on the South Fork. Each day will be spent learning paddling skills on the water and the evening with on-land workshops, a restorative yoga class to maintain body alignment and a potluck dinner. Mile 7.4: Paddle under the Highway 49 Bridge. Copyright ©1995 - 2020 The American River. level: 1,000 – 5,000 cfs Put-in: Chili Bar Take-out: Salmon Falls Bridge. The South Fork of the American River is a great all-around stretch for private boaters of all levels. Explore the options to find a program that suits your needs. The 3-mile, Class II “Coloma to Lotus” stretch is an ideal introduction to whitewater. Mile 3.1: Triple Threat (III) is a series of three rapids (First Threat, Second Threat, and Third Threat) back to back. The South Fork of the American River changed world history in 1848 when California’s first gold was discovered in its stream bed at Sutter’s Mill. Tags and forms are available at Camp Lotus, Henningsen Lotus Park and Chili Bar. Novices will find the 3-mile, Class II “Coloma to Lotus” stretch to be an ideal introduction to whitewater. Kayaking Meat Grinder Rapid on the South Fork of the American River. Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking The 20-mile run from Chili Bar to Salmon Falls features over 20 named rapids and countless waves in between. The rapids on the South Fork are "rock garden" style rapids: meaning rocks in the channel create the rapids. This is also a great place to camp. The South Fork of the American River boasts the most popular whitewater rafting and kayaking west of the Rockies, and the area provides many other great opportunities for recreation on and off the river. There are two distinct runs on the South Fork - the Chili Bar run and the Gorge run and most boaters choose one or the other in a day. Mile 1.5: Maya (II+) has a great kayak surf wave at most river flows. The resources pages have lots of logistical information, including maps and directions, shuttle notes, local food, and lodging. If you’d like to visit the area, or learn more about the history of the river and the Coloma-Lotus valley, don’t miss the Coloma Valley website. Most paddlers run the river with a commercial rafting company. The South Fork of the American River is a great all-around stretch for private boaters of all levels. Kayakers surfing at Maya Rapid on the South Fork. Three riverfront parks provide opportunities for family picnics and wading, and Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park brings California’s history to life. Private groups of more than 20 must complete a large group registration form, also available at those locations. The 20-mile run from Chili Bar to Salmon Falls features over 20 named rapids and countless waves in between. Whitewater Kayaking Kayakers, canoeists, and other private boaters love the American River for many reasons. Novices will find the 3-mile, Class II “Coloma to Lotus” stretch to be an ideal introduction to whitewater. This beginner 2-day clinic on the South Fork American will introduce or re-introduce you to the joys of being a whitewater kayaker in a safe and supportive environment. Outfitters provide the equipment, experienced guides, plus life jackets and other gear, so that you can enjoy the outdoor adventure without the hassle or expense of investing in your own equipment. Private rafters and kayakers alike will find lots of information on river conditions, logistics and local resources in the Resources and Kayaking pages.site. We offer single and multi-day clinics complete with yoga, camping, community and more! The South Fork of the American River is the premier rafting river in California and one of the most popular rivers in the United States. As your novice skill improve explore a little further on downstream on the C-G section (Coloma to Greenwood a 5.5-mile stretch). ALL people, ages and skill levels welcome! For more information on what to expect and how to choose an outfitter, see the Rafting pages. Mile 5.1: Troublemaker (Class III+) is considered by most as the most difficult rapid on the South Fork. Some offer roll sessions and kayak polo in heated pools for comfortable entertainment and practice during the spring and winter months. The winter and spring are much less crowded and a great time for intermediate kayakers to practice their skills. As your novice skill improve explore a little further on downstream on the C-G section (Coloma to Greenwood a 5.5-mile stretch). It’s rated Class III at moderate summer flows, but at high water or early in the season should be considered Class III+ or IV.
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