The North and Middle Forks of the American River provide boaters with a quality wilderness experience. Swift currents and unseen dangers can provide boaters with unwanted emergencies. These rivers are not for beginners, quite often experienced boaters have trouble on them. Respect the river... and come well-prepared when you visit.
North Fork American River
The 4.0 mile river run from the Iowa Hill Bridge to Yankee Jims provides several Class IV - V rapids, most notably: Chamberlin Falls, Staircase Rapids, and Bogus Thunder.
Two class II - III segments from Yankee Jims Bride to Ponderosa Way Bridge and from Ponderosa Way Bridge to Upper Lake Clementine. Each offer a beautiful 4 mile boating experience.
Trips down this river are typically made in one day.
Boating the North fork requires a sound background in technical whitewater skills.
The most desirable flow range is between 1,500 - 3,000 cfs.
Middle Fork American River
One, two, or three day trips are possible on this challenging scenic river. The 15 mile run from Oxbow put-in to Greenwood take-out features several Class IV rapids, as well as numerous Class II and III rapids. Most notable are the Tunnel Chute and Kanaka Falls.
A seven mile trip from Greenwood access area to Mammoth Bar offers a wonderful Class II - III rapids.
NOTE: If you are uncertain about your ability to navigate any rapid, PORTAGE!
Boating downstream beyond Mammoth Bar is not recommended, as the
Murderer's Bar Rapid has claimed lives.
Class I - Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves.
Class II - Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels.
Class III - Intermediate. Strong eddies and current, requiring skilled maneuvering.
Class IV - Advanced. Powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water.
Class V - Expert. Long, obstructed, or violent rapids which expose paddlers to above-average danger.
Class VI - Unrunnable.
For further information contact the Whitewater Recreation Office at (530) 823-4162.