Slate Creek (Sacramento River Tributary)
|Stretch:||Horseshoe Mining Claim to Highway 5|
|Difficulty:||Class IV+ to V|
|Distance:||2.8 to 3.1 miles|
|Gradient:||230 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Horseshoe Mining Claim|
|Shuttle:||4 miles, 15 minutes (one way)|
|Season:||Winter from rain, spring from snowmelt|
|Featured in Video A Wet State #42|
Slate Creek is a little tributary to the Sacramento River just above the inundation that is Lake Shasta. The creek tends to only get run after a recent rain when the Sacramento River is reading over 3,000 cfs at the Delta. However, we got a little luck and got a early warm spell with 170% after snow pack which brought the Sacramento up to 5,500 cfs and Slate Creek up to the runnable level. However, just because the Sacramento is at these levels certainly does not mean the creek will be runnable, the only way to know for sure is to go to take-out and peak at the painted gauge. Now here too lies a difficulty. We had ~9Ē on our first lap and 11Ē on our second. Both good medium to low flows. However, approximately one third of the river is diverted just above put-in and is returned just before take-out, thus the gauge represents more water than the good section of rapids will actually have. Why do I mention this to you? Because the diversion is not always on, thus 11Ē on the gauge can also be a juicy (aka healthy, aka very splashy) flow. If the rapids at put-in look a little low, manky, but doable, than it is probably a good flow for your first time down. Even at lower flows, the rapids are very continuous and eddies small. At high flows I have heard you just hang on for the ride and donít stop until you are below Black Jack Falls. So buyer beware. Apparently people usually draw the low water cut off at 6Ē on the gauge but I have also heard of really low water runs down to 3ĒÖ though I cannot imagine how much their boat disliked them at the end of that dayÖ
As it is, Slate Creek is considered one of the classic creeks of Northern California (real Northern, not Sacramento Northern). This goes to show me that the Sierraís are just that good, cause with all due respect, this creek was a bit manky for my taste. It is worth running, donít get me wrong, and if in the area I will run it again, however I wonít be planning a weekend around doing lap after lap on this creek. (Now as I reread this, it sounds so negative, and I really donít mean to put anyone off going there, it really is worth doing, and not in the novelty sort of way).
Unlike the S/H book, we put in at the mining claim down 0.75 miles from the bridge. To run the upper you need decent water as the rapids are super manky and challenging. So many folks opt to put-in below what are the Royal Flush rapids as they are named Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten. Below here, the river cleans up and can be enjoyed with lower water. In between busy bolder bar rapids you will get to a few bed rock drops. First is Roulette which should be scouted and possibly portage on the right. Two large holes must be avoided though we found at our flow they can be punched and surfed out of. After more boulder gardens you get to the one portage that nearly everyone takes around Poker Falls. Below is a another large boulder garden that brings you to the lip of Black Jack Falls, the reason I did a second lap. This 15-18 foot falls is as straight forward as they come and will certainly leave you smiling. From to the end, is fun boogie with a few junky rapids to throw in the loop.
Mileage is from the Miniming claim, and not the upper most put-in.
- Guillotine (IV to IV+). Run down the center, the water refracts off the left wall into a room of doom on the right. Just downstream is a sweet double set class IV-IV+ rapid. We ran the left channel driving right as we found a rock in the middle of that channel. The second set we ran down the middle to the hole below. A couple of class IV boogies rapids keep you busy below.
Roulette (IV+ to V). When the river turns left, eddy out on the right before entering the class II lead in to scout. Drive right and get on the rock shelf to boof around the first hole (several of us got rejected by the cushion and melted in, it worked out ok for the most part. At higher flows I would not bet on that). The exit drop is another sticky hole, also best run on the right. The portage is also easy on the right and is commonly used.
More in between boogie.
- Pair of Kings (IV to IV+). A short drop, there is a good eddy on the right at the top though you scout from the left. You will recognize it by the truck size rock on the left and horizon line below. We entered left and kicked center. At lower flows you have to run right. The hole at the bottom can be mean and has swum plenty of people.
Above Poker Falls Boogie (IV+ to V). The rapid above Poker Falls is quite large. We boofed in on the right side of the main channel and fought through several holes before making the straightaway and avoiding the rock in the middle at the bottom. The water then immediately enters Poker Falls, so catch an eddy ASAP. If you are going to do the half portage, eddy right. Full portage eddy left.
Poker Falls (V+). A super junky lead in pushes you to the two exit slots that donít end happily. You can portage out to the island in the middle by passing boats and jumping over the channel and put in below the manky lead in and boofing the good third channel. The run out is class IV to the eddy below and the top of Full House.
Full House (V- to V). I agree with some write-ups that this rapid is only class IV+ difficult at lower flows like we had, but I know the consequences can be bad, so I upped it a little. I think you would scout right, we didnít scout so I donít know. We ran down the left side through a few small holes arriving at a clam shell boof into a good hole (this would be the crux at high flows I imagine). Below, you immediately drive far left around another big hole, then immediately drive back right to boof the exit in the middle. There is a pointy rock in the landing that sometimes causes a portage at ELF flows. The exit of this rapid is the lip of Black Jack Falls, so catch the medium sized eddy on the right or the miniature eddy on the left.
Black Jack Falls (IV to IV+). Named Black Jack Falls because it was originally estimated at 21 feet in height. Though, I think 15 feet is probably generous enough. Basically, boof the left side. At high flows, a hydraulic forms. At low flow, there was nothing of the sort.
Junk Rapid (IV+). After a short straight away you get to another steep boulder infested rapid, we ran this far right boofing in to a rock filled landing (cleanest line) and then working your way down more rocks. This one needed more water, but the sort of water it needed would make the rest juicy I think.
- Below here, the diversion comes back and you will likely get more water. From here down there is some fun class III/IV to IV+. Some good size holes to boof over and a few rocks to avoid. In 2011 there was a tree that was duckable in one of the class IV rapids that made you shoot through two of the meatier holes in the bottom section. Good fun though. Before long, you arrive at take-out.
Take-out: 32 miles North of Redding on Highway 5, take the Slate Creek / Le Moine Rd Exit. Double back under the freeway and you will immediately see the bridge on your left. The gauge you want to look at is on the river left, downriver side of the bridge (not the upriver gauge).
Put-in: Drive up Slate Creek Rd, at the first fork, stay right and donít drop down to the houses below. Continue on the dirt road for a total of 3.5 miles to the large turnout on the left and the road steeply dropping back to the right. Park in the turnout and walk down to the river on the road. Be Cool though. Or you can continue driving the short distance further to the bridge and run the upper few drops.
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...