Sacramento River (Box Canyon)
|Stretch:||Siskiyou Reservoir to Dunsmuir|
|Distance:||7 miles, 1 day|
|Flows:||300 - 1200 cfs. Current Dreamflows (est) gauge|
|Gradient:||93 fpm average|
|Take-out:||Central Dunsmuir Bridge|
|Shuttle:||7 miles (15 minutes) one-way|
|Season:||spring, from snowmelt and dam release|
|Written:||© 2006 & 2010|
This is a beautiful run tucked in the Shasta Region of Northern California. You start and end in small towns, but the canyon is so steep that besides from the train track which follows the river for the last half, there are no signs of civilization. There is a trail (see comment at the bottom, apparently it is not open to the public) however that leads to the scenic Moss Brae Falls, and therefore on a nice day there will be some hikers to be seen. There are two down points to this run. First is the fact that the put in is very tricky and involves using a rope to lower yourself down a near cliff, luckily the rope is set so you don't have to bring your own. Second is the fact that the delta gauge is very far downriver and doesn't at all reflect the water that you will see on Box itself. 3,400 at Delta was 5' 1” on box and 2,700 at Delta was 4' 7” at Box in a spring melt condition.
Apparently in the Cassidy/Calhoun book is says that the lower 4 miles of the run is good for people not quite up to Box itself. However, I think this is wrong. We all thought that the lower “Cantera Loop” section was actually more difficult due to its continuous nature and its boulder rapids style. This however should not downplay the Box itself. The rapids are continuous and a swim would be bad, so it makes the overall section of Box a class IV in mind, while the bottom section stands alone as a IV on the rapids themselves. All in all, this run was great fun and by far the gem of the Upper Sacramento River.
For some great photos of this run, check
- Log (III-). The rapids start immediately, you actually put on in a little rapid.
Then on the first corner comes another easy rapid made a little more difficult by a
log across the river on the left, it isn't hard to make it to the right.
Two right Turns (III). Two rapids come, both of which on right turns, neither of which is hard. As I remember you just run down with the current making slight adjustments.
- Dave Flips (III+). A rocky entrance, best negotiated center, ends straight into
some rocks. It comes before a left turn. Flipping here would be painful and swimming
here would be bad as the three biggest rapids lie below.
Ledge One (IV-). This rapid is easy if you see a line through it, bad if you hit any other part of the hole. I hit the right side of the left channel, just left of the center rock, went right through on the seam.
Ledge Two (IV). A large river wide ledge is this rapid, followed by a short pool before “Eagle Slide.” The best line was a far left boof landing with left angle to get into the eddy.
Eagle Slide (IV). Just below the second ledge comes this slide. Best negotiated on the right, it will take some plastic off your boat, along with some skin off your body if you flip. This is the end of the Box Proper.
- The rapids are fairly continuous in nature. Only a few manage to stick out in my mind.
- Boulder Bar One (IV-). Just after a right turn, the river goes over a number of boulders.
I am sure there are many lines, we entered left and worked right. At the end there was
many holes, of which you had to choose one to punch. We hit the right side which had flake
rocks to aid the hole punching.
- Boof Right (IV-). On another right turn, we snuck around a very large hole by boofing on
the right shore. The boof was easy, the hole looked not so much so.
- Bolder Bar Two (IV+). This rapid is by far the biggest on the run. The river is choked
off by many very large boulders creating many channels to choose from. Near the top you
make a choice to stay middle of go left around a large rock. The easiest line for the
downstream set up was middle. This allows you to carry speed over the final ledge drop
allowing you to not get stuck in it. The ledge drop is best on the left, the right is
sticky as hell as Mike found out. After the ledge drop is very turbulent water, and at
the choke point of the river ust below may lie a rock at lower flows.
© Darin McQuoid
Take out: To get the take out, driving North on I-5 from Redding, take the Central Dunsmuir exit. Turn left on Dunsmuir Avenue, and follow down to the river below the bridge.
Put in: Go further North on I-5 and take the Central Mount Shasta exit, cross over the freeway and at the T, turn left on Old Stage Road. From here, follow the sign for Lake Siskiyou. Siskiyou Dam.
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