Silver Creek, S.Fork, California, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||75 fpm|
|Max Gradient||110 fpm|
This section of the South Fork of Silver Creek is significantly different in character than most
other runs in the Sierra. Its 75 feet per mile gradient is surprisingly low for a run at 5000.
The river channel is much more accessible in this section than in the steep canyons below
Junction Reservoir. The reach is also unique in that the nine-mile shuttle is actually shorter
than the 11.2-mile river reach. Most of the reach is in the area burned by the 1992 Cleveland
Fire, which diminishes the natural beauty of the run and has created wood hazards in the river.
As the trees grow back, the aesthetics of this reach will continue to improve.
If you choose to put-in at the dam (google map) the first rapid, named Pea Shooter during the flow study, starts the run off with a bang. The water released from the base of Ice House Dam, projects a forceful stream about 150 feet downstream of the release outlet. This makes entering the first rapid rather exciting. Several boaters during the flow study chose to portage this rapid. Below Pee Shooter, this first section was one of the only rapids on the run that seemed very rocky or boney at 400cfs. Shortly below the stream flow gauge, the boaters encountered several class IV rapids the last of which is clean on the far right. The next mile of the run is class II/III until a short class IV section just above the beginning of the Cleveland Fire burn area at river-mile 2.1. In this section there are two class IV rapids and one class IV+ that has several ledges that lead into substantial hole. The next eight miles are very continuous class III with very few distinct rapids but an amazing number of surf waves. The run changes character again at river-mile 6, just above Chicken Hawk Springs. Here the run enters a mini gorge and there are several large logs spanning the river. The amount of wood in the river increased throughout this section during the flow study, particularly in the area below Chicken Hawk Springs. While it is possible to maneuver around numerous other logs, many of these logs are quite mobile and will continue to move from year to year. The last mile of the run contains several class IV rapids, including a river wide ledge that is generally run on the right. Just below this final rapid is the Bryant Springs Road Bridge. You can either take out on the right below the bridge or finished the run by padding approximately 10 minutes across Junction Reservoir to the boat ramp area.
Other sources of information:
2016 Release Schedule for Ice House & Slab Creek (CA)
March 3, 2016