|Stretch:||Mill Creek to Mine Camp|
|Distance:||4.7 miles, half day|
|Flows:||500-1500+ cfs. Current Dreamflows Inflow to Stony Creek Res gauge|
|Gradient:||64 fpm average (class IV gorge of 110 fpm)|
|Take-out:||Mine Camp road|
|Shuttle:||~6 miles (10 minutes)|
|Season:||Winter from rain|
This run has been on my curiosity list every since my brother bought me my copy of Stanley/Holbek and I (a class III boater at the time) realized there were many more runs that I ever imagined for a class III-IV boater. Well, flash forward 4 or 5 years and I have finally managed to get on this run. Cacreeks sums it up nicely, quoting the differing information between the two guidebooks. Cassidy/Calhoun state it is one of the finest rainy season runs in the state, and Stanley/Holbek state it is worth doing a few times for a change of pace. But my favorite quote would be from Ben Wartburg when I called and invited him…”That run is sweet… well, the drive is anyways.” Indeed, the drive was very nice. The drive to the river from the valley was the type of drive I would look for if I had a convertible to drive around in. Green lush rolling hills, growing taller and taller to the well named twin peaks of Snow Mountain.
So this run isn’t one to run to if you see it has water, but I would agree with Stanley/Holbek that it is worth doing for the sake of a new run with pleasant scenery and short section of fun drops. I would also be interested in making a trip back for the tributary to Stony Creek, Grindstone Creek which is apparently class III. But that will be another day.
So a little bit of logistics. We put in on Mill creek, and scrapped our way (for the experience) the half mile to the South Fork of Stony Creek. With deeper water, we got to the first few real rapids, still scrappy and not all they fun. After 2 miles you get to the Middle Fork confluence and the first real rapid. A quarter mile after the Middle Fork, the North Fork enters and the fun begins. This stretch drops 100 feet in the next mile (i.e. 100 fpm gradient) and is pretty continuous. This gorge only has 1 rapid that is actually of class IV nature, but the continuous nature of the rapids and lack of eddies before the bigger rapid make me think of this mile as class IV in total. The rapids are fun but before you know it, the mile is over and you have a class I-II paddle out the remaining mile to the car. The interesting thing is that you can actually put in on the South Fork just above the Mill Creek confluence, or even just at the Middle Fork Confluence. I think if I were to go back I might skip the Mill Creek stretch as it was less than memorable. Either that or wait for much more water. We had about 1,000 cfs on the inflow to Black Butte Reservoir gauge (actually jumping between 1,400 and 800) which correlated to an estimated 500-600 in the river. The inflow to the reservoir will be at least 30% higher than the flow on this section of Stony. I wouldnt really bother going in any lower than the flow we had.
- Just downstream, on the first left bend there is a very choked off drop. We scooted down, got out, carried to the other channel, got back in and scooted some more. This was the worst of Mill Creek.
- Hole (III). At mile 1.2 or so, you get to the first horizon line. You can scout from the left. It was a tight drop that dropped you into a hole that was backed up by a few rocks. The run-out last about 100 feet and involved some rock dodging.
Boof (II+). At our flow, this thing was just a rocky piece of crap. We ran down the center. Be aware, the boulder on the left is undercut and there was a tree poking up against it.
- The Middle Fork enters on the left.
Long Rapid (III). The middle fork nearly doubled the flow for us and we were treated to our first rapid which did not involve hitting rocks. A long read and run affair warms you up nicely for the North Fork Gorge.
The North Fork enters on the left.
Several (III). Sorry, we were so happy to be in rapids I didn’t take a mental note of all the rapids. Got some photos to help out.
Landslide (IV). After the first set of rapids you turn left and there is a straightaway, you will see a landslide coming down from the left hill side. Start looking for micro eddies to hop out and take a look. The rapid betweens with a tree block the left half of the river, go right around it. Then the rapid steepens. You would think right is no good, but the left has a tree in it, we boofed the flake in the middle and ended up on the right ducking the log just downstream.
Holes (III-). A few large holes on the next right bend. We skirted left.
Tree (III-). Another tree is seen from above the rapid, eddying out above it on the right, you can see there is a plenty clean line down the left side of the rapid.
Begin the float to the car.
Take-out: Get to the town of Stonyford. We took Maxwell Road from Highway 5 and followed signs ending up on Lodoga-Stonyford Road. Once in Stonyford, turn on Market Street heading west. 2 or 3 streets up from Stonyford Road, turn left on Fouts Spring Road and follow 3.8 miles to the first road that leads steeply up to your right. This road had a small sign marking it as Mine Camp. Follow the dirt road about a half mile to the river. Apparently, sometimes this gate can be locked, it wouldn’t be a horrible hike out from the river to the car.
Put-in: Continue up Fouts Spring Road 5 or 6 miles until you see Mill Camp. There is Mill Camp just before you cross Mill Creek. We put in there. You can turn right just after the crossing and continue down to the South Fork or Middle Fork bridges as well.
View Stony Creek in a larger map
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