North Fork of the Kern River (Chamise Gorge)
|Difficulty:||Class III - IV|
|Flows:||500 to ? Current Dreamflows gauge|
|Put-in:||Calkins Flat Free Camping site/TD>|
|Take-out:||Salmon Creek Falls Vista point|
|Season:||Winter, Spring, early Summer from snow melt|
A nice intermediate run, Chamis gorge offers a low stress run mixed in with the best scenery I saw on the Upper Kern (of course not counting the Forks or Headwaters). The day we ran it we had a measly 540 cfs. At this flow the run was class III with one class IV. In total, it is comparable but a little easier than low water Chamberlain on the North American, a trend which I have been told stays true even at higher flows for each. After the first few rapids the river flows into a short gorge which doesn’t contain any rapids but is formed from granite walls and bolder; very beautiful and a large part of the reason to boat this section.
In some guide books this is incorporated into the Fairview Dam to Goldledge Camp but the locals split the run up differently into smaller sections, allowing you to mix and match for runs which fit your desires.
Note: the ratings below are for the run at low water, I am sure it all gets harder at the higher flow.
- Boof (III-). The first rapid had a nice boof on the left, or a flake in the middle.
Boof Again (III-). Again the left channel had a fun boof, and then had some run out.
- S-Move (III). The middle channel allowed for a S-move to be made around boulders.
Straight forward enough to read and run.
Black Bottom Falls (IV). A large midstream boulder creates two channels. Just to the left of the boulder is a steep drop into a big hole. You can scout on the left. Try to boof the hole, but we found that the hole was not as sticky as it looked. The water however was going deep and popping up considerably downstream. I would imagine at higher flows this drop becomes pretty stout.
Mank (III-). A manky rapid which was cleanest down the right side. Just try to hit as few rocks as possible at this low flow.
Take out: 12 miles up 155 from the Kern River Brewery, on the right you will come to the turnout which has a sign pointing up to the right for the “Salmon Creek Falls.” Park in the turnout. Just below the take out is the class V+ to VI Salmon Falls. Dont miss the take out, several boaters have died in the Upper Falls.
Put in: Drive 2.1 miles further up 155 and enter the camp zone across from the forest service sign. Put in at the camp.
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