Canyon Creek - 1) French Lake to Bowman Lake


Canyon Creek, California, US

Disclaimer

1) French Lake to Bowman Lake

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 5.6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 195 fpm
Max Gradient 400 fpm

Canyon Creek below French Lake


Canyon Creek below French Lake
Photo of N taken 07/14/13

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level


River Description

In 2012, American Whitewater completed negotiations for the Yuba Bear hydroelectric project, operated by Nevada Irrigation District (NID). One of the outcomes of these negotiations was that NID would provide flow for whitewater boating in September each year. That condition reads as follows:

YB-RR3 French Dam Supplemental Flows for Whitewater Boating

Licensee shall, beginning in the first full calendar year after license issuance, provide in all water year types a Recreational Streamflow in Canyon Creek below French Dam starting between September 1 and September 30 of each year, until the date that French Lake elevation reaches 6,638 feet (corresponding to a useable storage of approximately 7,500 acre-feet). For the purpose of this measure, a Recreational Streamflow is defined as a target streamflow of between 120 cfs and 150 cfs over a continuous 24-hour period as measured at gage YB-306.

River Description

This write-up is based on a run at 80 cfs. Based on the photos from an earlier descent I'm guessing they had 10-15 cfs more, I think a more optimum flow.

This rarely run creek saw its first descent in 1993. No it's not a South Silver, but it is a cross between Fordyce and the South Yuba-Spaulding run. Just the scenery alone is worth the trip. At times it reminded me of Tuolumne Meadows.

An hour or so hike down a gated road leads to the French Lake dam. The view downstream is impressive - continuous drops surrounded by granite. The canyon starts out with some fun drops. Pay attention, and catch a small eddy on the right to scout a 25' drop. As with many drops on this run, I think another 20 cfs would make it more appealing. Portage on right if so inclined. The drop below this has an intimidating horizon line, best scouted on the left. This is a 7' drop with a sticky hole. Running the middle gives you a boof to easily clear the hole. A few more rapids to Weil Lake, more like a pond really.

Just below Weil Lake is a twisting jolly of joy to an 8' slide. This 20' falls looks quite interesting, but needs a bit more water. These next two rapids and looked very runnable but no-one in our group ran them. The next rapid is straight-forward, following the main flow and boofing the left side of the rock at the bottom. After a short pool is an 8' entrance to a 20' falls. Next is the best slide on the run (Faucherie Lake is in the background). It starts with a 25' slide and into a hole that laid me out on my back deck (the others didn't get their faces wet, go figure). Immediately downstream is a curler followed by a boxed-in hole with an undercut wall on the right.

The paddle across Faucherie Lake is 0.3 miles, not enough time to take in the beautiful granite surroundings. The spillway is to the right and can be paddled over. Shortly below here is an impressive drop that none of us decided to run that day (it was run on the first descent). Once again, just a wee bit more water for this one. Shortly below here is a road crossing that I will use next time for the take-out. I found the rest of the run to Sawmill uninteresting. A group that kayaked a few days prior to our trip, told me that the section from Sawmill to Bowman has a long portage and just one good rapid, although now seeing photos of that drop maybe it is worth it.

All in all, this creek is WELL worth the time and energy.

Write-up courtesy of Chris Shackleton and Dreamflows
 


Other Information sources:
Awetstate-CanyonCreek

FERC information:

Nevada Irrigation District - Project Website

The FERC project number is P-2266 and information about the present license can be found at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission website.

The initial FERC license for the Project expired on April 30, 2013. The project will continue to recieve annual licneses until the State Water Resouces Control Board issues their Water Quality Certification for this project. American Whitewater, along with our resource agnecy and NGO partners,  negotiated many improvements for whitewater recreation and overall stream health with Nevada Irrigation District (NID).   These have been included in NID's application for new license filed with FERC in June, 2012.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-09-10 17:27:40

Editors


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

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Associated Projects

  • Yuba and Bear Rivers (CA)
    The Yuba and Bear rivers are some of the best whitewater resources in California. American Whitewater is an active participant in the FERC relicensing negotiations that impact these rivers.

Associated News

Events

Calendar Control Date:
Calendar by Date by Title

May 2010

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CA, Canyon Creek Releases

Boating study release, may continue longer.200 cfs

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CA, Canyon Creek Releases

Boating study release, may continue longer.200 cfs

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CA, Canyon Creek Releases

Boating study release, may continue longer.200 cfs

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CA, Canyon Creek Releases

Pre spill, controlled release. 300 cfs

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CA, Canyon Creek Releases

Pre spill, controlled release. 300 cfs

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CA, Canyon Creek Releases

Pre spill, controlled release. 300 cfs

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Events
CA, Canyon Creek Releases Nevada City,CA runs 09/05/08 - 05/24/10
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