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Old 02-14-2015   #1
spack171's Avatar
Sylva, Western North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 66
Northern California paddling towns

I'm looking for recommendations Northern Cali paddling towns with Class II-IV+ within 30-60 minutes and an active paddling community. I lean toward small towns to cities under 100,000 people. I'm thinking going back to doing some travel nursing. The following information format is appreciated. Thanks, Steve

Nearby rivers and Class?
Paddling season length?
Good trails for hiking/running?
Does it have a hospital?
Any other cool info.

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Steve Pack
Sylva, NC
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Old 02-15-2015   #2
theBoatPeople's Avatar
Danville, California
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 190
The Grass Valley / Nevada City area certainly comes to mind (Sactramento is a bigger population than you want by far). Maybe Red Bluff to the north?

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Old 02-16-2015   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 41
Yeah, Coloma, Auburn, Nevada City.

You have 3 forks of the american and endless creeks around there. Beautiful hiking. Placerville, Ca has Marshal Hospital. It's 20 minutes from Coloma or so and pretty large as far as I know. There might be hospitals in Auburn, I just don't know the other areas as well.
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Old 02-16-2015   #4
NIMBY, Oregon
Paddling Since: Womb
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 97
Arcata or Eureka, CA.
Six Rivers National Forest has endless trail opportunities.
Smith, Scott, Klamath, Cal. Salmon, Trinity... Class II-V+.
Pacific Ocean.
Both have hospitals.
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Old 02-22-2015   #5
spack171's Avatar
Sylva, Western North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 66
Good info. Thanks everyone. 😀

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Steve Pack
Sylva, NC
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Old 02-22-2015   #6
?, ?
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 15
I would second the eureka arcata area. With all the above mentioned you also have the chetco, Illinois and rogue rivers close by and numerous options off of the forks of all these rivers. North coast paddling blogspot has a lot of good write ups of the area runs. Also from this area with a nurse schedule it would be easy to make multiple trips in a year to the sierras and Pdx/hood river area
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Old 02-23-2015   #7
dreadone's Avatar
ft. collins/ Chico ca, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 9
too much info


Feather River class 3 through 5 , monthly releases in the summer.
(north fork-tobins, lobins, rock creek, cresta, poe...
south fork--gnar
middle fork-devils canyon 4+ to 5+
west branch---BIG KIMSHEW)
Butte Creek class 2-5
Deer Creek class 4
2 hrs to the Yuba and american, Pit river, mcloud, sacramento.
4 hours to the Trinity it goes on and on.

paddling year round

hiking/running- bidwell park is great.


Cool info----Nurses make bank in ca thanks to the unions. double that of colorado. serious.
Chico pop 85000, cost of living about the same as fort collins.
Best produce in the world, orchards local farms, kiwis oranges lemons citrus all grow here. Chico, its where the nuts come from.
Girls are beautiful. Chico state is here brings in plenty of fresh ideas and riot starting partiers. Mountain biking is good. 2 hours to downieville and auburn trails.
There is a drainage every 30 miles coming out of the sierras. pick a place
California Creeks - Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking
A Wet State - Guide to California Kayaking
Dreamflows Realtime Report

The bad-- we are in a drought. A wet state's Daniel Brasuell up and moved to the southwest because (i hypothesize) the drought. And he's run everything here...
The paddling community is here but not near as much as the front range. There are a bunch of B.A. class 5 boaters here, but only a small group of dedicated class 4 boaters at least that i can find. They can come out of the wood work. Seems they are scattered across Quincy, reno, sac redding and chico.
Moving from colorado out here is a bit of culture shock, in terms of family values, but it is a interesting journey. This is the green belt and pounds of bud abound. (this could go in the good section, Ive seen pounds of trim be burned on a burn pile or swept into the trash.)

Don't live in redding, red bluff, oroville, cohassahat. marysville, sterling city, or yuba city

Chico is experiencing a influx of transients due to its mild climate, park that runs though town and compassionate people that live here.
And in the summer its hot as %^&* When i moved here it was 114. triple digits happen. bad for some, good for others.

a article By Dave Steindorf

POSTED: 08/11/14, 12:01 AM PDT | 0 COMMENTS
Each Tuesday, we ask a local aficionado to share a personal top 10 list, consisting of things to do within an easy day's drive. This week: whitewater paddling.

Dave Steindorf is the California stewardship director for American Whitewater and resides in Chico.

American Whitewater's mission is to conserve and restore America's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely. More information can be found on the American Whitewater website, American Whitewater - AW Homepage.

1. MIDDLE FORK FEATHER RIVER >> The most spectacular rivers in the United States are designated by Congress as Wild and Scenic Rivers. These rivers have been set aside for special protection because of their outstanding remarkable values. One of these rivers resides right in our backyard.

But the Middle Fork of the Feather River is not just any Wild and Scenic River. It is actually one of the original eight that were designated when the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was passed back in 1968. This means that the Middle Fork Feather River was considered to be the best of the best. What is truly amazing is how few North Staters know about this amazing gem that is right out our backdoor. A journey on the Middle Feather from its headwaters near Beckworth to where it terminates in Lake Oroville for those with the requisite Class V kayaking or rafting skills is one of the best in the world.

One favorite is the run from Nelsons Bar, near Quincy, down to Milsap Bar, outside of Berry Creek, which is generally a three-day run. The other popular run is from Milsap Bar down to Lake Oroville, through Bald Rock Canyon.

It's possibly the most spectacular place in Butte County, and I would speculate that there are only 1,000 people that have seen this canyon in its entirety.

2. NORTH FORK FEATHER RIVER >> While it is just one drainage to the north of the Middle Feather, the North Fork is a very different river.

Beginning early in the last century, waters of this river were diverted for hydropower. By the 1970s virtually all of the water from Lake Almanor to Lake Orville ran in pipes and tunnels alongside the river. After years of negotiation with PG&E, some of that water has now been returned to the river. Along with a greatly improved fishery, sections of the North Fork Feather now contain some of the best year-round whitewater boating in California.

The best sections of whitewater are from the Rock Creek Dam, near Belden, down to the Cresta Powerhouse close to where Highway 70 enters the canyon.

3. MERCED RIVER, YOSEMITE VALLEY >> Every year people from the north state, and around the world, flock to Yosemite. While trips to the Valley are nothing new, what is new is that next year you will be able to float in a raft, kayak or canoe down the length of Yosemite Valley, where you couldn't before.

Most of this run is flat with little whitewater. What it lacks in whitewater excitement, it makes up for with spectacular views of one of the most iconic places on earth. In my view, this is simply the best way to see Yosemite Valley.

4. WEST BRANCH FEATHER RIVER >> When I first moved to Paradise in the early '90s, the West Branch was relatively unexplored. Odd, given that most of the whitewater rivers in California were explored in the early 1980s. After hiking and eventually running some sections, we were amazed that this classic river had nor been discovered earlier. It has been described to me that this canyon is where the Sierra Nevada meets the Cascade Range. This accounts for the amazing rose granite, serpentine and quartz in the canyon walls.

My favorite run starts where Jordan Hill Road, near Magalia, crosses the West Branch. The take-out is a short hike out to Dean Road.

5. MCCLOUD RIVER >> Back in the late 1800s, some of the wealthiest individuals from San Francisco purchased large portions of land around the McCloud River. One thing we know for sure, people with unimaginable wealth don't buy lousy real estate. With constant cold water that originates on Mount Shasta, the McCloud River is home to a world-renowned trout fishery. It also hosts fabulous Class III/IV whitewater trips above and below McCloud Reservoir.

6. PIT RIVER >> Flowing northeast of Redding into Lake Shasta, the Pit River provides the bulk of the water that flows into the Sacramento River. There are several great sections of the Pit for both whitewater boating and fishing. The runs are mostly Class III and IV and have a high-desert feel in the upper section near Fall River Mills. Farther down, near the town of Big Bend, the canyon is more forested. As an added bonus, one section contains one of California's only riverside hot springs.

7. LOWER FEATHER RIVER >> If you are looking for something on the mellow side, the lower Feather River is a great option and close by. Very pretty and lots of wildlife. You can put in near the Feather River Fish Hatchery and float through the Oroville Wildlife Area down to the afterbay outlet.

8. BUTTE CREEK >> This is the backyard run for most paddlers in Chico. From Centerville down, this is a great run for beginning paddlers. California is awash in challenging Class V whitewater. Class II/III runs are actually hard to find. Paddlers from all over the region come to Butte Creek in the spring because it is one of the best around. Locals love the surf wave at the Centerville Powerhouse.

9. SACRAMENTO RIVER >> It would be impossible to have this list without mentioning the Sac River. It is so close, and there is so much of it. Perfect for canoes or kayaks and plenty of places to camp. There are many options for single or multi-day trips from Redding to Chico and beyond. It is mostly Class I and II. However, the Sacramento is a big river that is deceptively swift. Please approach with caution.

10. YUBA RIVER >> Running just south of Chico and eventually through the town of Marysville, the three forks of the Yuba River contain some of California's best whitewater. Beginner to expert, there is something for every type of boater on the Yuba.
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Old 02-27-2015   #8
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 32
Haha, I read the part hypothesizing that I moved to the SE because of the drought. I wish I had that much flexibility. Nah, I followed Diane who started a new job...

I do have a map on awetstate that can give you a decent lay of the land:
Google Map

I would agree with the folks though that posted above...

Auburn / Grass Valley (I might lean towards Auburn for the convenience of summer releases on the S. American and Tuolumne). Just 30 extra minutes from Grass Valley... but yea. Both are great for winter and spring, Grass Valley is minutes from the South Yuba which has some classic runs

Chico has a nice little community for sure, plus summer releases one weekend a month on the North Feather (plus all sorts of stuff in the winter/spring)

And Arcata is where humboldt state is and has a solid community. Smith River, Trinity, etc offer great boating. Trinity is about 2 hours to Pigeon Point which has all summer releases. Or low water Burnt Ranch Gorge is class IV+ and runs all summer and is 1.5 hours or so.

Redding can also be an option but less desirable of a town... and much smaller boating community.

All have hospitals. I know for sure Auburn/Grass Valley have great mountain biking. I bet the others do too. Auburn/Grass Valley also offer easy escapes up into the High Sierra. Chico has great hiking in the lava fields surrounding Mt Lasan. Arcata has the Redwood groves etc. all completely different, but equally nice!

Hope that helps!
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Old 03-02-2015   #9
placerville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 732
whats our best bet for class 3-5 north CA southern OR this season? We have 1st 2 weeks of april. should cal salmon and smiths be running?

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Old 03-03-2015   #10
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 32
Smith need rain (for the most part) to run... Salmon should be in I would think. The North and South Forks of the Salmon are also super nice. Most years the North Trinity is in around that time... but it never came in last year and it is a similar snow pack so who knows. If it stays low, then Burnt Ranch will be at a normal flow in April.

I can't speak to Oregon though...

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