Smith, N. Fork, California, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-V (for normal flows)|
|No. Smith At Gasquet|
|dream-162||600 - 4000 cfs||III-V||36d07h00m||522 cfs (too low)|
|SMITH R NR CRESCENT CITY CA|
|usgs-11532500||2000 - 7000 cfs||III-V||01h02m||649 cfs (too low)|
The water on this run is always crystal clear and it's known as one of the most scenic runs in northern California. Good flows are available in the winter rainy season, October to April, when an average of 92 inches of rain falls. Summers are dry, so the rivers get too low for boating.
Nick Sinderson writes
Yesterday 1/2/11 I made my 20th trip down this run and every trip confirms my first impressions...that this is one of the most uniquely beautiful class 3/4 river runs anywhere and I count myself lucky to have it in my neck of the woods. There are a few things to know that will help any trip down this run;
1)Bearfoot Brad, one of the worlds best shuttle drivers (707)457-3365. for a small fee he will save you hours of driving and fill you with tons of local info. (he also posts the daily report of conditions on dreamflows.com).
2)forget about cfs this run is calibrated from the paddlers gauge at the confluence of the NF & MF. For a first time for the class 3/4 boater I'd say 9.5 to 10.5 is the ideal level ... Swimmers and gear can be easily rounded up, you'll have time to look at the scenery and there are still 8 or so class 4's and lots 3' to 4' high wave trains with the rare 5'-6' high wave to spice things up. Above 12 I hear things start to get big and fast, missed rolls at that level and above could result in long swims, lost gear and a epic hike out.
3)lots of surf waves so if your comfortable in class 4 in the playboat... bring it.
4)bring sun glasses on sunny days. With a north to south orientation and a low winter sun, the glare can be blinding.
Take-out: There are two options for a take-out.
Gasquet Water Treatment Plant: This an informal access at the confluence of the North Fork with the Middle Fork. It is a standard take-out for kayakers running the North Fork. At Highway 199 mile post 14.3 in Gasquet, turn on to Middle Fork Gasquet Road. Follow this road 0.1 mile and turn right onto Gasquet Flat Road and follow it 0.1 mile to the bridge across the Middle Fork. If you park tight, you can get a few cars parked along the shoulder (please don't block driveways). To scout your take-out at the confluence, you will need to walk downstream river right of the bridge through the green gate, past the water treatment plant, and down to the confluence. It is a short hike with kayaks but not practical for rafts.
Put in: where Low Divide Road crosses the river. The shuttle route climbs through the mountains west of the river, then drops back down to the river about 25 miles from the Highway 199 turn off. Driving time is around 1 to 1.5 hours one way. The road is reportedly not plowed in the winter but is kept open by locals with 4 wheel drive.
Shuttle Option: Most folks coordinate a shuttle driver in Gasquet to ride
with them up to the put-in. Bearfoot Brad, (707)457-3365, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Information Sources:
Jefferson State Creeking- blog
Oregon Kayaking NF Smith River.
Nate Dogg, blog report
NF Smith at 10' - Vimeo Video
For books, see: Cassady & Calhoun, Holbek & Stanley, Schwind, Penny, Soggy Sneakers
Smith - Wild & Scenic River
Six Rivers National Forest
Smith River Recreation Area
North Fork Smith River Threatened by Mining (CA/OR)
July 7, 2014
Mining Co. Appeals Water Right Decision–NF Smith Watershed (CA/OR)
December 10, 2014