North Fork of the Yuba (Below Highway 49)
|Stretch:||Highway 49 to New Bullards Bar Reservoir|
|Difficulty:||Class III+ to IV|
|Distance:||6 miles (plus 12 miles on the lake)|
|Flows:||700-?000 cfs Current Dreamflows Put-in and take-out gauges|
|Put-in:||Highway 49 or above|
|Take-out:||New Bullards Bar Reservoir|
|Shuttle:||~15 miles, twenty minutes one way|
|Season:||Spring and Summer from snowmelt|
So I might as well start with the downside, you have to either talk a friend into picking you up on the lake or hire someone from the Emerald Cove Marina to pick you up or else paddle the 12 miles from the river to the boat ramp. The number for the Marina (they also have a website) is (877) 692-3201. It cost us $150 for the thirty-minute ride on a nice patio boat. Between the five of us, we thought it was well worth $30 each.
Ok, so now I will begin. As of Thursday night I had never heard of this run. But with support waning for the North Stanislaus trip I was trying to put together I began looking for other personal new runs to get on. Then I noticed on dreamflows the gauge for North Yuba above Slate Creek. It stated 6 miles of class IV (sounds fun) and that it was in the Cassidy/Calhoun book. I thought I would remember hearing of it as I own that book, and a quick read made clear why I never heard of it. The mention in the book is simply that it states if you continue down past Highway 49 after running Goodyears Bar, you get 6 miles of class IV to IV+ (not for kayaks), a 12 miles lake paddle and horrible shuttle logistics (not anymore). Oh well, a few calls, arrange the Marina to pick us up, a few calls to talk a group into joining me and the plans were set for Saturday.
The run was actually a very nice run. I think if it weren’t for the lake at the end it would get run a lot. We thought it would be a great run that is a step up from Chili Bar. At 1,000 cfs there were several easy class IV’s and lots of class III. One rapids stood out as harder, but that is more because the intimidation factor. As long as you point it straight and stay up right, it was a straight shot. A scout is desired though, as we were too nervous just to enter the rapid as it was steep and rocky.
The scenery was perfect, it felt very wilderness (I am sure it actually is too), there were a few signs of miners camps, and at one point we even saw a truck on a crappy little dirt road that was hidden in the trees. I wish I knew where that road came from as it would make a great take out. We concluded that it was a private road, oh well.
One final thing, although the rapids are steep enough, the class III-IV boaters might want their creekers, a confident class IV boater would love to take a playboat in. there were many great playwaves, many of which had eddy service. Anyways in conclusion, it was a lot of fun, I will go back again, I will take my playboat, and… I got nothing else. Oh and the mileage starts from the highway 49 bridge… though we put in a mile upriver at Fiddle Creek just to make it a little longer.
- Warm Up (II+). A nice little warm up drop run anywhere that doesn’t hit rocks.
First Fun (IV-). This was one of the ebst rapids on the run. The right half of the river is an obvious no-go as the water slams into a house size rock and probably sieves out. So just run down the left, stay upright and get ready for the folding hole at the bottom.
Second Fun (III+). The river drops over some bedrock and bends slightly right. We ran down the guts through the off-camber waves and into the exit hole.
- Junky then Boof (III). The rapid starts with a junky boulder bar cascade, try not to flip. It then lands in a short pool which leads to a nice boof on the right or a large hole on the left.
An easy mile or so with read and run rapids, some nice boofs. There are a few class III- rapids in this section.
- Folding Hole (IV-). An obvious horizon line, you can scout on the left from inside your boat or from shore. We ran center left, avoiding the plethora of rocks, finishing left in a double off-camber hole. Great rapid. With more optimum flows there might be a sweet boof in the middle, but watch for the rock in the landing of the hole on the other side of it.
- Canyon Creek (III-). As Canyon Creek enters on the right at mile 3.5, a nice wavetrain with a few holes and funky boils and eddy lines is run down the center.
Slides and Sieves (III). So the rapid is a straight forward slide on the right side, the middle has some sieves, and the left has some rocks. A swimmer through Canyon Creek rapid would be best served to catch the eddy on the right at the lip. You can also scout or take pictures from there.
Just a Long Class III Part 1 (III+). A large boulder bar appears, it turns out to be a lot easier than you would think. We just ran down the middle. Easy to boat scout. It ends in a couple nice but reasonably small holes.
Just a Long Class III Part 2 (III-). The previous rapid just continues but easier for the next half mile and leads to the biggest rapid on the run. Once you see the cliff downstream on the left, if you are very nervous, start finding and eddy on the right to scout from. You can also scout from the left but it may be harder to get back to the clean lines from there.
- Junk (IV). There are a lot of bad lines in this one, lines that would result in pins or headaches hence I am giving it a class IV rating. If you spot the line, it is much more of a class III. We went down the right between a flake on the left and pour-over on the right. Steve also scouted out a juicer middle line that worked out reasonably alright for him but also gave a lot more exposure to danger.
- Great Wave (III-). A nice wave train had a 8 foot standing wave in it to launch off of. We were all smiles after. Right here you also notice that the shores are now covered with slate instead of granite, you might also notice that this is the high-water mark, mile 5.5.
- Slate Creek enters on the right, it is a small tributary.
Last Hoorah (III-). A nice large wavetrain with a few holes to keep you honest.
The powerhouse (very small) is located at mile 6.5 and soon after the lake water hit for us. The lake was at 1,911' elevation.
Take-out: From Sacramento, we went up Highway 99 to Marysville and then took Highway 20 towards Grass Valley. We then turned left at the Chevron Station onto Marysville Road. We followed this to the Willow Glen Restaurant and turned left to stay on Marysville Road (also you can just follow the signs to the lake itself, they will point you the correct direction). Once you make that turn it was like 6 miles more or something. You will see the marina on the left just before the dam.
If you come from Grass Valley or something, you can take Highway 49 towards Downieville and turn left on Marysville Road a little ways past North San Juan. Take this some 6 miles down to the dam, cross the dam and enter the marina. They ask that during their busy season that you don’t park on the boat ramp. So unload the boats and park up in the parking lot.
Put-in: Head back up Marysville Road to Highway 49, turn left and continue for 10 miles or less. You will cross the North Yuba, start looking for a place to put on. There are several turn-outs or campgrounds that can be used.
View North Yuba, Below 49 in a larger map
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