Russian River (Squaw Rock)
|Stretch:||Pieta Creek to…|
|Difficulty:||Class I to III|
|Distance:||3 miles, third of a day|
|Flows:||200 - 8000 cfs. Current Dreamflows gauge|
|Gradient:||30 fpm near Squaw Rock|
|Shuttle:||3 miles (5 minutes)|
|Season:||Year round, from rain and Eel river diversion|
This is a nice intermediate run although very short. There are only three significant rapids on this section, but since the run and shuttle is so short it is very easy to run the run multiple times in a day. Furthermore, the hardest rapid, Squaw Rock, is in clear site from Highway 101. About a quarter mile south of the put in, 101 crosses a bridge/overpass and the rapid is right there, at the bridge. It is possible to extend this run another 16 miles, but there it is more worthwhile to do only sections of it if whitewater is your purpose, and this of course being the best section of whitewater since it contains the largest rapid even if other sections may contain more rapids.
- There are a few Class I and II rapids below Pieta Creek.
- Directly above “Squaw Rock” and directly at the base of the monolith namesake
rock is a small drop into a hole, it is runnable anywhere, but I always ran it on the
left to set up for “Squaw Rock” with greater ease.
Squaw Rock (III+ to IV). This rapid should be scouted from the road before putting on the river. There is a small hole at the top; I usually try to hit the left side of it in order to line up correctly and easily for the drop on the left, directly to the right of the submerged/pour-over rock. At higher water levels this hole gets extremely difficult. Definitely exercise good judgment as the water starts to move above 1500 cfs. Above 8,000 cfs the rapid is class IV to V (from what I have heard).
Graveyard (II+ to III-). Directly below “Squaw Rock” starts this rapid. It is a basic boulder garden, I have always run the left channel which has some rock dodging leading up to the final four foot drop which is run in the middle.
Take out: Two miles north of Geyser Road exit is the Comminsky Station. There will be a sign to show the way. Follow the road for a few hundred feet until you find a place to leave the car. It may be a good idea to go down to the river to familiarize yourself with the take out scenery. Also, Caution: Just downstream from this take out is a bridge made out of old train cars. At higher flows this can create low clearance or even a large scary hole. It may be worth while to follow the road down two hundred feet further and walk down the private property entrance to figure out how much clearance you have if forced to run it due to missing the take out.
Put in: From Santa Rosa, take Highway 101 north to Cloverdale. A few miles north you will come to Pieta Creek. You can park here and put in, or back track about a quarter of a mile and put in at a turn out that has a path leading down to the river.
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