North Fork of the Yuba (Rosassco Canyon)
|Stretch:||Downieville to Goodyear Bar|
|Difficulty:||Class IV+ (harder at higher flows)|
|Flows:||700 - 2000? cfs. Current Dreamflows gauge|
|Take-out:||Town of Goodyear Bar|
|Shuttle:||4 miles, 5 minutes one-way|
|Season:||Spring and early Summer from rain/snowmelt|
With statements like “by no means a classic” and “only included for the sake of completeness” Stanley/Holbek manage to discourage any interest in this run. And I am going to stick my neck out (I know some of my friends disagree), but I liked this run, a lot. However, with its short length it is hardly worth driving out to Downieville just for it. And also as it only takes an hour and a half when scouting all the major rapids it hardly fills a day. So the question arises, how can you fill your day to make the drive more worth while. Wild Plum upriver on the North Yuba is an option, but that by itself is a full day. Goodyear Bar below on the North Yuba is an option, but that too is a day run as well as being a step down. So what other option is there? Pauley Creek.
Our day began with hiking up about a mile up Pauley Creek. We then ran down the Middle Pauley Creek run, followed of course by the Lower Pauley run. At the beginning of the day we set a car at the take-out for Rosassco Canyon on the North Yuba. So after a brief portage of Pauley Falls, (since none of us are loaded and wanted to beat our boats) we continued the few hundred yards to the confluence with Lavezolla Creek, where the two are renamed “Downie River” and continued one mile to the confluence of the North Yuba (this mile only takes 5-10 minutes at most). We then paddled the 4 miles down to Goodyear Bar through Rosassco Canyon which offered great class III rapids with a half mile of class IV+. What a great way to make a day in Downieville.
As I stated, the goods in Rosassco canyon are brief. The section of class IV+ rapids last only for a half mile. However, the miles to and from the canyon are still filled with fun boogie water. There are several easy IV above the canyon along with several III below. Mind those rapids, although they are easy compared to the things downriver, there were some absolutely massive holes in those rapids, and a few of them appeared out of no where. Anyways, despite Stanley/Holbek, I am 100% certain that I will be back to do another Pauley/Rosassco day, as I am still smiling a day later. Oh and for reference, we had about 1,600 cfs and you can road scout the basics of everything from the road though once on the river, it all becomes much larger. Also, sorry for the lack of photos with people actually in the rapids, we had a small group and figured safety in numbers.
- 3 Big Holes (IIII-). The first rapid around the corner from put-in should be skirted on the right side of the channel. The middle and left have three huge holes in a row.
- Right Turn (IV-). The river bends right, drops into some funky water and a few holes. It also pushes us against the wall on the left, so stay center or right.
Straight (III+). Another sizable drop with some holes to dodge, we went down the right side of them.
- Big Dummy (V). We were a little cold at this point and didn’t feel like dealing with the hassle of scouting the hole on the right. Instead we banged out way down the sneak on the far left shore. Be careful there are several sieves and cracks in this rapid. Scouting is highly recommended. There is also an easy portage on the left (AKA Cathy’s Carry).
The Flake (IV+ to V-). Just downstream, lays several large ledges. The first one is best to avoid. We went wide around the left down a nice ramp. This also lined you up nicely for the bottom drop which was a large wave hole. Although it smacked us good, you also go right through. There was also a seam that would have been easier on the right side of the ledge, but where is the fun in that? This rapid also gets a little extra rating due to the fact that at our flow in combined with the rapid below. So a swim would be unpleasant. And the next rapid blended into the next one. So hence the V- being added into it.
Little Dummy (IV+). A straight forward lead in to a very large hole on the left side of the ledge. We plugged the hole, went deep and popped up on the other side. No other good way around it. Long portage on the right, or if you are confident in catching a small eddy at the lip, you can do a really short portage. Scout right.
Grand Slalom AKA Parallel Parking (IV+). If you stay on line, no problem. If you don’t, it may be less fun. I half heartedly scouted on the right. Saw a nice line that would be easy to relay to my friends in their boats, saw a meaty line on the right which looked at a glance like it may go, but needed more attention and concluded the easy line would be the line and stopped scouting. The line I saw was down the middle channel which goes right to left gradually across the river. After 100 feet the river splits and we wanted to be left. It turned out being harder than expected to get left, but with a few extra strokes we all made it. From there we bashed some holes, avoided some bigger holes and were through the rapid. This is the only rapid that we did not scout from the road, not sure if you can well.
- Easy rapids peaking at class III from here to the end. Just mind the holes, there are a few sneakers that could easily cause a swim to the unwary.
Take-out: Take 49 from Nevada City, just a 4 or 5 miles short of Downieville, there is a bridge crossing the river to Goodyear’s Bar. Turn left after the bridge and drive up the road till you can see a nice place to put on.
Put-in: Continue up Highway 49 to the town of Downieville. There is a nice parking lot next to the visitor center just inside of town. The parking lot is 4 hour parking which is more than enough to complete this run.
View North Yuba, Rosassco Canyon in a larger map
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