Whitewater River Rafting Trips

North Fork Yuba River from Union Flat to Carlton Class V Run

This trip is a class V run above Goodyear's Bar (mile 10) and class IV run thereafter on the North Fork Yuba River from Union Flat Campground to Carlton Campground 18 miles of river. The gradient is 59 feet per mile. The season is April through June.

Mile 0 The Downieville Run is the first six miles, the gradient is 80 feet per mile, and unnamed class IV and V rapids are nearly continuous.
Mile 2-3 Moss Canyon class V, the canyon narrows for nearly a mile of tough boating with three big drops.
Mile 3.3 Jim Crow Creek enters on the left. The river passes through Sierra Shangri-La Resort.
Mile 6 River Access, the old mining town of Downieville, county seat of Sierra County. The Downie River enters on the right, dramatically increasing the North Fork’s flow.
Mile 6.8-8 Rossasco Ravine, class V, a long series of rapids. The initial chute along the right wall, BIG DUMMY, ends in a huge hole. A Pool Follows, then a string of more technical but less drastic drops that can be seen from turnouts along Highway 49.
Mile 8-9.5 Class II rapids.
Mile 9.5 River access on the left, half a mile upstream from Goodyear's Bar Bridge. Beginning of the Goodyear's Bar Run.
Mile 10.2 Rock Creek enters on the right. Most of the rapids the next six miles are class II and III gravel bars and boulder gardens, with the exceptions noted below.
Mile 11.7 Ramshorn class IV, III channels. The center channel usually has the most water and the hottest action.
Mile 14.9 Two Pair, class IV, look for a landslide on the right wall. A class III rapid leads to this double drop.
Mile 16.2 Possible Portage, Maytag, class V, Recognition: The river bends right, and Humbug Creek enters from the left. The rapid: A pool leads to a big vertical drop. Many boats which manage to negotiate the reversal at its base are then washed against the downstream left wall. More drops and holes follow, then a class IV rapid. Consider portaging (either bank), especially at high water.
Mile 16.4 Son of Maytag, class IV, only a short pool separates the big one upstream from this junior version. At high flows the two rapids merge. Downstream are class II and III rapids to take-out.
Mile 18.2 Carlton Campground take-out.

There is even more whitewater on the North Fork Yuba. Downstream from Carlton Campground, the preferred take-out for Goodyear's Bar Run, the river splashes through six more miles of Class IV and IV+ rapids before it is swallowed up in the reservoir. The problem with this beautiful wilderness stretch is that there is no road access to the upper reservoir, so boaters face 12 miles of flat-water (or a tow-out) to Dark Day or Cottage Creek Boat Ramp (both on Dark Canyon Road off Highway 70), as well as formidable shuttle problems.

At the opposite end of the river, above the Union Flat Campground, experts sometimes tackle the Wild Plum Run (also called the Sierra City Run) nine miles of very difficult Class V whitewater beginning at Haypress Creek near Sierra City. Flows are usually skimpy this far upstream, the gradient is a daunting 110 feet per mile, and the highway rarely comes close to the river.

Logistics: Downieville is 45 miles north of Nevada City on Highway 49. The highway follows the right bank of the river, so vehicle access and shuttles are easy. The put-in for the Downieville Run, Union Flat Campground, is six miles east of Downieville. To reach the intermediate access at Goodyear's Bar, turn south onto a side road four miles west of Downieville. Drive slowly and courteously through the little settlement of Goodyear's Bar, some local residents are hostile to boaters using county roads for legal river access. Cross the bridge to the left bank of the river and turn left; access is half a mile upstream from the bridge. Parking is very limited, and rules are enforced. (Contact the managing agency for updated information on access at Goodyear's Bar.) Both the alternate take-out at Fiddle Creek Campground and the take-out at Carlton Campground are on the right bank of the river within a mile of the Highway 49 bridge. The highway 49 bridge, less than a mile downstream, is a legal access point but rarely used because of the steep banks.

Flows on this river vary greatly from 500 CFS in the summer to over 10,000 CFS in the winter and spring months. The river is runnable for a raft at flows over 1,000 CFS. At flows of 1,000 to 4,000 CFS the river is a class IV run, at flows over 4,000 CFS the river turns into a class V run.

This trip is a "helmet" (class IV & V) run. When you are told to put on your helmets and life vests the helmets and life vests are to stay on and buckled up until you are told it is all right to take them off.

This trip requires a greater level of teamwork, discipline and cooperation. For this trip it is required that you be in above average health and general physical condition.

Water temperatures during the fall, winter and spring months fall below 50 degrees F and a wetsuit or dry suit are required. This trip will almost always require a full-length wet suit or dry suit, booties and full-length gloves. There is a combination of public and private lands (mining claims on BLM land). We have to be especially careful of the mining claims. The laws regarding the mining claims on public lands are "fuzzy" and open to interpretation. We must show respect for any private property along the river. We have the right to access the banks of the river up to the high water mark, whether it is public or private property, to portage the rafts and scout the river.

Notes / Agenda: Downieville Chamber of Commerce 800-720-7782

Motels:

Coyoteville Cabins, 15921 Highway 49, Downieville, CA 95936, (530-289-3624)

The Downieville Loft sleeps 8 and overlooks the "put in" at the swimming hole in town. http://www.sierraretreats.com

Downieville River Inn & Resort, PO Box 412 121 River St, Downieville, CA 95936, (800-696-3308)
Lure Resort, 100 Lure Bridge Ln, Downieville, CA 95936, (530-289-3465)
Riverside, 206 Commercial St, Downieville, CA 95936, (530-289-1000)

North Fork Yuba Agenda Downieville Run

Friday Overnight Trip

Friday

Meet at my house Friday 12 noon for the trip up to Downieville. Friday afternoon I will be taking the "slow road" up to Downieville and touristing out, stopping and seeing things on the way to Downieville. I will be staying at the Riverside, 206 Commercial St, Downieville, CA 95936, (530-289-1000). Friday night I will be eating at the Downieville diner. Sometime Friday afternoon we have to drop vehicles at the take out at Goodyear's Bar.

 

Saturday

7:30 a.m.                     Meet behind the Pizza Parlor in Downieville at the park

7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.    Preparation to float the boat

9:00 a.m.                     Float the boat

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.    Arrive at take out

8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.  Arrive back in Sacramento

 

Saturday Day Trip

6:00 a.m.                     Meet at my house

6:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.    Drive to Downieville

8:30 a.m.                     Meet behind the Pizza Parlor in Downieville at the park

8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.  Preparation to float the boat

10:00 a.m.                   Float the boat

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.    Arrive at take out

9:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.  Arrive back in Sacramento

 

North Fork Yuba Agenda Goodyear’s Bar Run

 

Friday Overnight Trip

Friday

Meet at my house Friday 12 noon for the trip up to Downieville. Friday afternoon I will be taking the "slow road" up to Downieville and touristing out, stopping and seeing things on the way to Downieville. I will be staying at the Riverside, 206 Commercial St, Downieville, CA 95936, (530-289-1000). Friday night I will be eating at the Downieville diner. Sometime Friday afternoon we have to drop vehicles at the take out at Goodyear's Bar.

 

Saturday

7:30 a.m.                     Meet on Goodyear’s Bar road

7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.    Preparation to float the boat

9:00 a.m.                     Float the boat

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.    Arrive at take out

9:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.  Arrive back in Sacramento

 

Saturday Day Trip

6:00 a.m.                     Meet at my house

6:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.    Drive to Downieville

8:30 a.m.                     Meet on Goodyear’s Bar road

8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.  Preparation to float the boat

10:00 a.m.                   Float the boat

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.    Arrive at take out

8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.  Arrive back in Sacramento

 

Directions to Goodyear’s Bar put in:

Goodyear’s Bar is across the river from highway 49. Goodyear’s is approximately 9 miles after highway 49 crosses the North Yuba. Carlton and Fiddle Creek campgrounds are immediately on the right after highway 49 crosses the river. Drive 9 miles farther and the bridge to Goodyear’s Bar crosses the river. Take the bridge to Goodyear’s Bar and Goodyear’s Bar road. Turn left (east) on Goodyear’s Bar road and the take out is approximately mile.

 

Note: For a Friday overnight trip you can drive up Saturday in the morning, however you will have to plan to be at the put in at the designated time and plan your driving time accordingly.

Note: Depending on circumstances I will be staying in Downieville Saturday night.  I will be eating at the Downieville diner and going to the Saloon after dinner.