The Upper Klamath (and beyond)
Lower Klamath River
Beginners are advised to put in below Weitchpec, as the river broadens here and the rapids are not as menacing. Above Weitchpec, particularly near Happy Camp, rafting experience is necessary to safely navigate the dangerous rapids known as the Ikes. Ishi Pishi Falls, however, should be avoided at any cost. It is Class VI and cannot be attempted without risking your life.
GORP Feature: Raft the Klamath River from Oregon to California.
Contact: Klamath National Forest, Happy Camp Ranger District
The 16-mile stretch from Lewiston to Douglas City is a good weekend trip. From Big Sur to South Fork Junction is 21 miles. It's okay for intermediates.
Contact: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Big Bar Ranger District
With 400 miles of river to choose from, there's something for everybody. Above Shasta Dam, the river is difficult, especially for canoeists. Downstream of Redding, the only real tough spot is Iron Canyon Rapids. From Red Bluff on down it's 100 miles of easy paddling.
The section from Dos Rios to Alderpoint (50 miles) is for advanced rafters only, and you should be wary of the waterfall beyond the sharp turn at Island Mountain. From Alderpoint to the South Fork (32 miles), however, it's an easy paddle and an ideal first trip.
Middle Fork of the Eel River
This is a beautiful run, sitting high in the mountains with postcard-picture scenery. The river is rarely in good shape past June.
Here's a six-mile, one-day run that is ideal for the Bay Area rafter; the put-in is upstream of Rumsey. The river is a little over 100 miles from San Francisco.
South Fork of the American River
A good put-in is at the Route 193 Bridge, and take-out is at either the picnic area beyond the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historical Park (six miles) or the short road off Route 49. Warning: Do not try to run from Peavine Ridge Road to El Dorado Powerhouseit's a death trip!
East Fork of the Carson River
The river has many good campsites in the 20 miles from Markleeville to Gardnerville. There's one bad set of rapids about halfway through the run. The beauty of this mountain river run is one to remember. By the way, the casino in Gardnerville is a killer.
This was the second most popular stretch of water in America until it was flooded by the backwaters of the New Melones Reservoir. What's left is a moderate stretch of water with some small rapids from Knights Ferry to the Oakdale bridge (13 miles).
Contact: Stanislaus National Forest
The nine miles of river from Upper Kings Campground to Kirch Flat Campground are okay for intermediates. Warning: Only advanced rafters should try the stretch from Pine Flat Dam to Centerville. It's beautiful water, but lives have been lost here.
Contact: Sierra National Forest, Kings River Ranger District
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication