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River: Smith River – Middle Fork
Put in: Panther Flat
Take out: Middle Fork Gorge River Access
Class: III-
Distance: 8 Miles
Gauge: Oregon Hole Gorge (estimate)
Flow: 1800
Boat: Pyranha H2
Shuttle: 20
Info: Creekin’

Although this run starts in the middle fork, it soon joins the north fork and the water volume more than doubles. You can use the Gasquet gauge to find the flow at the start and the Oregon Hole gauge for the end. The beginning of this section is mostly class II+ boulder gardens which are pretty easy to ready and run. There are also a few drops and good wave trains. Scenery is great as the Smith river is always beautiful. I thought this was great practice for running boulder gardens since I didn’t have a lot of practice with it. I was able to tuck into eddies pretty easily and there are enough breaks to catch your breath. Lots of fun small surf waves I also noticed since I was given the mission to “Surf everything you can find!”  Unfortunately this lead to a swim in shallow water.

Confluence of the Middle and North Fork

After Mary Adams bridge, the rapids become shorter but also steeper and the scenery more gorge like. Make sure you can recognize the take out. I call this one “quit or commit!!!” since the Oregon Hole Gorge follows shortly.

Route Map

TAKE OUT: Take 101 to 199-E and just past Hiouchi look for the “Middle Fork River Access” on the right side. There is a pullout and a path down to the river.

PUT IN: Keep going on the 199 and you will come to Panther Flat campground on the left. You can go down to the picnic are and park right on the river. There are toilets here.

River: Smith River – Middle Fork
Put in: Patrick’s Creek
Take out: Panther Flat
Class: III (One IV)
Distance: 8 Miles
Gauge: Gasquet (estimate)
Flow: 1350
Boat: Pyranha H2
Shuttle: 20
Info: Creekin’


This section of the middle fork is intense!  It was non-stop class III action with one class IV right in the middle.  It has been knocked for having so-so scenery but I think that is just relative to other Smith River runs (which have epic scenery).  I never really noticed the scenery as I was too busy dodging holes.  The rapids start just after put in and don’t ever really stop.  I thought the run seemed creek-y at first since about half the river runs through brush and leaves a narrow section to be run around sharp bends.  After a few rapids the brush disappears and it is pretty constant boulder gardens.  Highway Rapid is very easy to spot as it starts just after the first bridge you come to.   You can get out and scout the rapid on the left side, or also portage there pretty easily.

The final rapid at Panther Flat (and one of the smallest)

There is really very little rest in this run, I got a very good cardio workout, not even including my two swims.  My roll was off on this run— I just couldn’t get my paddle angle right.  Swims generally should be avoided because the rapids were so long with very small pools below some of them.  I managed to get myself out of the water, but had to give up on the paddle and the boat.  I had some very good wranglers ready to pick up my pieces.  You can take out at Panther Flat or keep going on a slightly easier/mellowier stretch.

Route Map

TAKE OUT:  Panther Flat picnic area.  Take 101 to 199-W and follow it past Hiouchi until you see the Panther Flat campground turn out.  Follow the signs to the picnic area and you will be able to park right next to the river.  There are also toilets here.

PUT IN: Patrick’s Creek.  Keep going up 199-W and come to a bridge that says Patrick’s creek.  Turn before the bridge and there is parking there and a paved path down to the water and a flat concrete set up area.  Pretty nice.

River: Trinity River Main Stem
Put in: Past Hoopa
Take out: Klamath River confluence
Class: II (One III)
Distance: 11 Miles
Gauge: Trinity at Hoopa
Flow: 1000
Boat: Pyranha H2
Shuttle: 30
Info: Ca Creekin’

This is a beautiful run that is seldom done, possibly due to access issues.  I have heard stories of people having their cars vandalized or being harassed in Hoopa, so we put in a little bit past the town.

The beginning of the run is ordinary, but once you enter the Weitchpec gorge, its an absolutely beautiful run with fun class II between scenic floats.  I would highly recommend this for beginners since the final class III rapid is such an easy portage.

The final rapid is  solid class three and can be run as a long curving rapid on the left side, or as a short, somewhat technical drop on the right of a large boulder.  I’m not sure if the right side is possible at all flows.  I went with the right and it’s very pushy next to the boulder and so it tipped me and I went over the falls upside down.  Luckily I missed the sharp rock at the bottom of the falls.  The second time, I managed to get a decent boof off the falls and landed it.
Route Map

TAKE OUT:  Drive to the town of Weitchpec and pass over the  bridge for the Klamath river.  Then turn left immediate onto the CA-196 (?) and then the next left is a road down to the river.  There are some houses here and when we went there was a traditional ceremony going on but they were nice enough to let us leave a car there since the ceremony would be over by the time we finished the run.

PUT IN:  We put in past Hoopa where there was a dirt pullout and people fishing.  I’m not sure the name of the road but it was before Mill Creek.  I have heard that Mill Creek is a good put in also.

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River: South Fork Smith River
Put in: Steven’s Bridge
Take out: Just before Surprise
Class: II-III+
Distance: 9 Miles
Gauge: South Smith Near Hiouchi
Flow: 1500
Boat: Pyranha H2
Shuttle: 20 minutes
Info: Smith River Rafting
Ca Creekin’

Repeated this run two times in two days now that I am more comfortable running at about a Class III level.  Also this was done in the fall about two or three days after a heavy rain and so the level was perfect at about 1500 cfs and dropping to probably 1200 on the second run.  The days were sunny and the water was perfectly clear just like I remembered the Smith to be.  At this flow, most of the wave trains are decent size and fun, and its a nice Class II at the upper section of this run.

Right before Rock Creek Ranch is the Pillow Rapid which you can scout from the road on your way to the put in.  It’s the only obvious giant boulder and about half the river tries to ride up onto the side of it in a terrifyingly huge pillow.  But there is a definite clean line with some sharp turns around partially and sometimes fully submerged large boulders.  I managed this rapid with my heart pounding.

After the Ranch house there are a few more fun Class II,and you will then cross under one south fork road bridge.  The rapid there is a stout class II that broke a friend’s paddle.  The second bridge is more commonly called the “Bridge Rapid” and this is where things went bad for me.  It’s definitely Class III and pretty long while navigating a bend in the river over some submerged boulders.  This created a very awkward squirrely wave train that tipped me at the top.  The first time I ran it, I ended up executing a combat roll but by the time I was up, I was going over a pourover backwards and went back over in the hole.  So there was a swim there.  The second time on this run, I went over at the bend and tried to roll a couple of time before I felt something grab my paddle.  I swam for a ways and when I recovered my boat and paddle, I realize the paddle was in one piece, but cracked all the way through the shaft.  I had to hike out and hitchhike back to the put in cars.

The first time I ran this, I managed to continue along through a few more class II rapids, including a boulder that I attempted to boof.  I went over into what looked like a small hole, but I didn’t have enough velocity to punch through it.  Next thing I knew, I was upside down and any attempts at a roll felt futile.  When I finally pulled my skirt, I realized I was being recirculated and managed to gulp air on a few rounds in the whole before it finally spit me out.  It felt a lot like being caught in the washing machine on a wave in the ocean.  When I flushed out and looked back, I saw my boat just bobbing in there behind the pourover.  It only took a few more minutes before it was ejected also.

After I got in my boat, I was so flustered and running late for a field trip, and so I just decided to hike out and hitchhike back to Rock Creek Ranch where I was meeting my students.  I found out later, that Surprise was just around the next bend and I could have finished the run.  Oh well.  There’s always next time…

PUT IN: Drive up South Fork Road from the 199 until you cross Steven’s Bridge, which is marked with a sign. It is a one lane bridge over the south fork. Just past the bridge is a parking lot on the left side. You have to hike down a steep trail to the river.

TAKE OUT: Craig’s Beach, which is a daytime use area on South Fork Road with outhouses. There is a long trail down to the river.

River: South Fork Smith River
Put in: Steven’s Bridge
Take out: Rock Creek Ranch
Class: II
Distance: 5 Miles
Gauge: South Smith Near Hiouchi
Flow: 6000— way too high  
Boat: Stearns Pivot Inflatable Kayak
Shuttle: 15 minutes
Info: Smith River Rafting
Ca Creekin’

This was a great run, but it was going to fast for me to enjoy it without being completely engulfed by fear. I wasn’t really feeling like a swim at 6000 cfs. But after I started to calm down, I could really enjoy the big wave trains. On your drive in, it’s wise to scout the one class III/IV drop which is something called “Pillow.” Know how to recognize it, because it’s an easy portage.. or run it if you’re daring. The rest of the run is solid class II. If you continue past Rock Creek Ranch there are other class III rapids before the traditional take out.

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River: Redwood Creek Upper Section
Put in: Hwy 299 Bridge
Take out: Bair Rd Bridge
Class: II
Distance: 5.8 Miles
Gauge: Redwood Creek near Blue Lake
Flow: 250 (was a little low)
Boat: Perception Whiplash
Shuttle: 15 minutes
Info: Schwind pg 121. Ca Creekin’ for full run


This is a totally underdone, really fun run even for a beginner like me.  Very much a creek, there was lots of bumping into boulders and scraping the bottom of my new boat.  I can imagine that some of the trees that have fallen make major hazards during higher flows, but at 250 we were able to go right under them.  I would love to do this run again.  The only problem is access can sometimes be an issue.  Luckily, I have a friend with the BLM so he was aware of the Bair Rd bridge, but also knew the locals there are unhappy about people parking there.  So please be respectful and watch out for poision ivy.  I am still recovering.

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Directions to take out: From Eureka go 101-N to 299-E. After the Lord Ellis Summit look for Bair Rd on the left (there is a sign saying no river access). Drive to the bridge crossing the creek. Park close to the bridge and don’t venture far from it, only that area is public property.

Directions to put in: From the take out, go back to 299-E and drive until you cross Redwood creek. Take an immediate right and follow the dirt road to the river. Access is just under the bridge. River is wide here and moving fast.

River: Eel River Main Stem
Put in: South Fork Bridge Dyersville
Take out: Pepperwood
Class: I
Distance: 9.3 Miles
Gauge: Eel River at Scotia
Flow: 6000?td>
Boat: 17′ Aluminum Canoe with two dogs
Shuttle: 5 minutes
Info: Kayak Lunartics

A really enjoyable flat water paddle.  We didn’t have ideal sun and the wind was against us, but the paddle was lazy and easy but the river moved us along.  The scenery was beautiful with cliff walls and redwood trees.  We could hear but not see the road until the take out.  We got treated to an eagle diving for dinner, deer, geese and otters.


The best part of this paddle was that it could be done with the dogs (PFDs optional).  They were totally fine and got to play in the water at the put in, take out and in the middle.  The entire paddle took about three hours with our lazy pace.  There is one hazard to be aware of.  In the middle of the run, there is a low water road.  At higher flows it is a low head dam, so be careful crossing it.  You can check it out on the map (it is shown as a road crossing the river).  Also watch for big stumps towards the end.

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Directions to take out:  From Eureka go south on 101 until you get to the second Avenue of the Giants Exit (Pepperwood).  Turn left at the Avenue and follow until you see a dirt road going to the river (there is a gate across it).  This leads to a bar.  Right across the way is a smaller cliff wall that you will use to recognize it.  You will also come across Bear Creek on the left right before take out.

Directions to put in:  Either continue on Avenue of the Giants, or go back to the freeway and take 101-S until you see the exit for Honeydew and the Founders Tree.  Turn Left at the exit and then right over the bridge.  Then take an immediate right and another right onto a dirt road.  This goes right down below the bridge to a nice beach on the South Fork.

River:         Clear Creek (Tributary of the Klamath)
Put in:        Slipper View River Access
Take out:    Confluence with Klamath
Class:          II/III
Distance:     5.5 Miles
Gauge:        USGS 11521500 (Indian Creek)
Flow:          1000
Boat:           Inflatable Kayak
Shuttle:      20 minutes
Info:            AWW, darinm

This is a fantastic run that I did with a large group of people who were in hard shell kayaks while I was in an inflatable.  I have a friend who also did this in a whitewater canoe.  It’s a solid class II with a couple of class III rapids that have easy lines if you can find them.  I would say that some of the kayakers were novice and I am a beginner and I swam twice and the other novices had at least one swim, but nothing scary.

Scenery was top notch.  There were beautiful gorge walls and waterfalls, but at this flow we definitely moved past it rather quickly.  The creek earns its name with the crystal clear cool water and it’s very interesting to see the water where it meets the murkier klamath at the confluence.

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Directions to take out:  From Eureka, take the 101-N to 299-E to Willow Creek.  Then take 96-N towards Happy Camp.  Before you get there, you will cross clear creek on a bridge.  Pull over immediately after the bridge.

Directions to put in:  After take out, keep going on the 96 and you will come to a road on the left.  Forest route 15N32.  Take it until you see a sign for slippery view river access.  There is a short downhill hike to the put in.



River:         Smith
Put in:        Slant Bridge
Take out:    Charlie Rd
Class:          II-
Distance:     8 Miles
Gauge:        JED
Flow:          4500
Boat:           Hard Shell Kayak
Shuttle:      20 minutes
Info:            Kayak Lunartics

This scenic run is great for beginners more interested in the view than rapids.  There were a few class II- rapids to run but overall it was just fun and mellow.  It’s a good float for an IK, but I enjoyed it as my first run in a hard shell where I didn’t have to roll or go for a swim!

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Directions to Put In:  From Eureka, take 101-N to Crescent City and then take 199-E through Jedediah Smith State Park.  After the park, pass the town of Hiouchi and look for South Fork Rd.  Turn Right and cross Slant Bridge.  Turn Right at the parking lot (easy to miss) and go all the way down to the river for an easy put in at the river bar.

Directions to Take Out:  Follow above directions to 199-E, but before Hiouchi take a left on North Bank Road (197).  Then follow that past the golf course and look for a “winding road” sign, turn L at the sign on to Charlie Rd.  Follow dirt road to the river.  You need to drive over river rock.  My Mazda protege5 could do it.