Sycamore Creek - Maxson Road to Trimmer Springs Road


Sycamore Creek, California, US

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Maxson Road to Trimmer Springs Road

Usual Difficulty III-IV(V) (for normal flows)
Length 4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 70 fpm


River Description

Sycamore is a small junky, brushy, pretty creek that is fun to boat on a cold rainy day. It is busy so you stay warm paddling. It is a narrow canyon, so there is little wind. It is fairly close to Fresno, so the drive is not too long. It is short, so you get home in time for an early supper. The main gorge is very pretty, and there are a number of good play spots.

Take-out: Take Trimmer Springs Rd. around Pine Flat reservoir towards the Kings River. Pass Trimmer Springs to the first major cove in the reservoir. This is formed by Sycamore creek. Park on the east side of the bridge. The rapid visible from this bridge is the biggest of the run and is not characteristic of the run. This final rapid is easily scouted or portaged on a dirt road on river left.

Put-in: Return to Trimmer Springs, then turn right on Maxon road. Drive over the hill into the Watts Creek drainage. Launch anywhere on Watts Creek and scrape down to the confluences of Little Dry Creek and Sycamore Creek.

With the combined waters of three small creeks, the flow changes to fast and pushy. There are several beautiful bedrock drops shortly after the confluence with Sycamore creek. Several good plays spots are also in this area.

Much of the creek seems to be long, continuous, low gradient, but fast, braided rapids. Long islands of brush thickets seperate the channels which divide and come together randomly. The bravest boater takes the lead probing for the clearest channel, while the rest hang back ready to drive into a bush in lieu of non-existant eddies. Fortunately the channels always seem to have a clear exit. These channels usually seem to be very shallow as well, which is why this creek is best at high flows.

There are two class 5 rapids near the middle of the run. The first is really just a nasty constriction which should be avoided. A tight sneak is usually available against the left wall, otherwise it is a somewhat awkward portage.

The second one is big, but is runnable at some flows. A long steepening rapid leads to a narrow falls into a narrow gorge with an ugly reversal, followed by a wide staircase cascade. The lead in rapid is intimidating only because it is unclear from above if one can eddy out above falls. The walls are very steep along this section. Carefully boat down the left edge of the river to a small eddy on the left above the falls. If unsure about this eddy, there is a climbing/hiking path on river left that can be used to send someone down to the take-out above the falls. That person can then make sure that everyone else catches the eddy. The falls are narrow and only take up the right side of the channel. The left side is flattish slabs, which provide easy scouting, portaging or spectating.

More wide brushy rapids follow, till you come to a ford. If you have had enough, take out here and follow the road to the left above the creek to the bridge. If you want more excitement, continue boating down the final long and very big class 5 rapid to the bridge, then carry up the hill.

If one needs more exercise and needs to carry their boat even farther they can continue boating down into the lake bottom. If the lake were empty, then the extra distance down to the Kings River would be 2.5 miles with 220 feet of drop. However, any time that Sycamore has boatable flows it is likely that the lake will be filling up and not too far from the bridge. The first half mile below the bridge could be interesting but the streambed visible from the bridge is rather spread out and junky.

Paul Martzen, 2003


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2006-05-27 18:17:42

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Rapid Descriptions

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