Overview: Squaw Valley Creek is an excellent rainy season creek, with the added bonus of getting the last 10 miles of the Lower McCloud River. The combined distance of 20 miles can make for a very long day. For the most part the creek is reported to be pretty continuous class 2 and 3 rapids. However, there are two significant waterfalls in the first few miles. At mile six, is a scenic gorge with about 6 class 4 rapids. Other solid class 3 and 4 rapids are scattered throughout the run. On a small creek like this, logs, log jams or brush could always cause problems. Once boaters reach the McCloud, they will face 3 big class 4 rapids along with numerous smaller rapids and a big increase in the flow. What more could you want?
Private Property: The first 5 miles of the creek below the trailhead are within the Shasta-Trinity National Forrest. A trail follows the creek for this distance. At Bear Trap Creek confluence, Squaw Valley Creek enters private property, (McCloud River Club?) There is no further public property along this creek or the McCloud River till the take out at Gillman Road on Lake Shasta. A private road follows Squaw Valley Creek from Bear Trap Creek to the confluence with the McCloud. If you need to stop in the private property zone, stay within the high water marks, unless forced to scout or portage
Put in: Cabin Creek trailhead at the end of Squaw Valley Creek Road. From I-5 take highway 89 to the town of McCloud. In McCloud turn south on Squaw Valley road towards Lake McCloud for 6 miles. As the road starts to leave Squaw Valley, turn right onto the dirt road leading to the Cabin Creek Trail. The last 3 miles to the trailhead are dirt road. Depending on road and snow conditions, you may have to park further upstream and carry to this point or possibly boat to this point.
Take out: Gillman Road bridge over the McCloud arm of Lake Shasta. Looks to be a long and winding drive to here from I-5, either via Gillman Road or Fenders Ferry Road.
Other Information Sources: http://www.awetstate.com/SquawValleyCreek.html Darin McQuoid PhotographyRapid Magazine Early Summer - 2010 Edition, page 28.Squaw Valley Creek Trail - Mt Shasta Trail AssociationSquaw Valley Creek Trail - WildflowersSquaw Valley Creek Trail map pdfShasta-Trinity National Forrest McCloud office - (530) 964-2184
There is a good scouting view of this waterfall on river left. You can also portage left over the rocks and down a crack to the pool. The waterfall has been run on river right.
You can scout this waterfall on the left and also run it down the left. A portage route is on river right.
Beartrap creek marks the end of public property and the end of the public trail. Squaw Valley Creek runs through private property from here down and a private road follows the creek to the McCloud confluence. Stay within the high water mark unless forced to scout or portage.
Tom Neal Creek comes in from the right just after a road bridge. This is a major tributary. It has been reported to contribute from 1/3 the flow up to equal the flow of the main creek. It probably contributes a lower percentage late in the season and more during the winter.
Within a couple hundred yards after Tom Neal Creek, get ready for the gorge. After you run the first class 4, eddy out right just above the next drop. You can scout all 5 remaining drops in the gorge by climbing up the hillside 20' and following the faint trail. You could portage all the drops in the gorge on this same trail as well.
For descriptions of the rapids on the McCloud below this point, see the Lower McCloud page. The major rapids on the McCloud below the Squaw Valley Creek confluence are:Double Drop FallsTuna Creek FallsValhalla Falls
The land in this area is all private property, so stay within the high water marks, unless forced to scout or portage.
This is a fun class 4 run. It does makes for a very long day if done as a one day trip with low flows on Squaw Valley Ck. If you're thinking about making a two day trip out of this run get yourself a Shasta-Trinity National Forest map which will help you locate public property for camping purposes.
Flows for Squaw valley Ck. are not available online so a little educated guessing is in order for figuring out if it's runnable. This is what I did; go to dreamflows, look for the McCloud river, look for the flow at ah-di-na camp and at Shasta Res, Subtract the ah-di-na camp # from the Shasta Res.# and if it's greater than 500cfs you should be good to go. I had a 550cfs remainder and it was doable but we had some rock bashing for the first 5 miles of the creek before tributaries added more volume.
The rapids on my lowish run were mostly class 2 & 3 with the obvious exceptions being the waterfalls at the beginning and the gorge just past Tom Neil Ck. This gorge is a spectacular piece of class 4 whitewater and well worth the price of admission.
We had 1,200cfs on the McCloud at Shasta gauge and that's a great flow for the McCloud, especially if it's a first time run, the McCloud will seem huge in comparison to Squaw Valley Ck.
For us the write-ups on 'A Wet State' and Darin McQuaid's site were valuable assets in preparing for making a run
During the rainy season and early spring, Squaw Valley Creek can often have boatable flows. The virtual gauge below estimates the flow in Squaw Valley Creek by subtracting the McCloud at Ah-Di-Na flow from McCloud above Shasta flow. The gauge for McCloud above Shasta shows what you will have once you join the McCloud.
Flows at the put in will be significantly less, but how much less will probably vary by season. In the winter, the lower tributaries typically contribute greater amounts than later in the spring. There are some springs that provide flow to this creek all year long, but they do not provide enough for boatable flows on their own.
There is an actual gauge of some sort on this river just above the confluence with the McCloud. There may be other gauges upstream as well. Rumor is that the gauges are for a short term study of a few years duration. UC Davis may have started the gauges, but they may be operated now by Nestle/Northstate resources. There are no online records or information about this gauge. We hope to learn more about these gauges and obtain historical records if that is possible, but so far we have not been able to get any information about them.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Chris Uhtoff waterfall picture
Starting point of Squaw Valley creek
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