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Difficulty IV
Length 4.8 Miles
Flow Range 300 - 10000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 58.9 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/08/2015 2:24 pm

River Description

The North Fork Chamberlain run is a very popular run due to it's proximity to Sacramento, and great class IV white water. At 4.9 miles, it's a fairly short run, but it is stacked with rapids and flows typically December through June in an average year. If you are looking for fun class IV in the winter and sping, this run is perfect. It only takes a little rain to bring the levels up to a boatable level. 300-400 cfs is the bare-bones minimum, 1000-2500 the sweet spot for most boaters, and above 2500 increasingly pushy and difficult. It has been run as high as 20,000+cfs but this is the territory of big water class V boaters only. Be warned. Although this isn't a super hard class IV stretch, it has it's fair share of undercuts, and pin rocks and was the scene of several bad rafting accidents some years ago when rapids were in a somewhat different configuration than now. Due to the fact that it's run so often, it can be easy to underestimate the dangers. Boaters who use this run to jump from class III to IV, should be sure to go with an experienced group of boaters, and to scout and set up proper safety where needed.


For more information, also check out CA Creeks, and Wet State, Holbeck and Stanley, Cassidy and Calhoun.

Camping is now permited in the following areas on the North Fork American:

·      2000’ downstream of Iowa Hill Bridge to 1000’ upstream of Yankee Jim Bridge

·      2000’ downstream of Ponderosa Bridge to 1 mile downstream of Codfish Creek

A permit is required. These can be picked up at the Auburn State Recreation Area Office.

Contact Auburn State Recreation Area Whitewater Recreation Office: (530) 823-4162

CA State Parks Gold Fields District Office: (916) 988-0205




Rapid Descriptions

Slaughter's Sluice

Class - IV Mile - 0.46

Chamberlain Falls

Class - IV Mile - 0.8

Large hole in the center. Most boaters take the tongue on the left.

Tongue and Groove

Class - IV Mile - 1.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Follow the tongue on the left.

Zig Zag

Class - III+ Mile - 1.6

Boulder garden

Achilles' Heel

Class - III+ Mile - 2.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Another boulder garden.

Bogus Thunder

Class - IV Mile - 2.7

There is a large boulder in the middle of this run that makes the rapid challenging. One can run right down the middle, over a small hole, and down the tongue. You can also cut over to river left and catch a small channel down to the bottom. This rapid changes as the flows rise and fall. Be sure to scout this one.

Grand Slalom

Class - IV Mile - 3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Read and run around large boulders. The rapid takes you far left, then right, then back to the right. At low to med flows, there are eddys that can be caught throughout this rapid.


Class - IV Mile - 3.3

Pick your way through small drops and waves to set up for the exit chute.

Nose Stand

Class - III Mile - 3.6


This rapid creates a great traditional spot to go for old school nose stands. It is the scene of many an icecream headache and missed roll in the dead of Winter.


Yankee Jim Bridge

Class - Mile - 4.9

Take out on the beach river left upstream of the bridge


Gage Descriptions

The automated gauge is some miles downstream of the takeout and also includes the sometimes significant input of Shirttail creek after heavy rain and in winter months. Real-time flow information is also available from

A stck gauge can also be found under the putin bridge, river right, and readings are often shared on local online forums such as and

Historical data can be found by clicking on the level number above and following links to the usgs home page for this gauge. CDEC also provides information about the Snow water content

Directions Description

Put-in: Colfax-Iowa Hill Rd. 

Take-out: Colfax-Foresthill Rd. (Yankee Jim's)

The shuttle distance is just over 9 miles, but will take between 20 and 30 minutes to drive each way.

Both putin and takeout can be approached from either side of the river, but approach from the North (river right) side is far easier. Parties often meet at Weimar Crossroads Park and Ride car park or the Subway parking lot adjacent to I-80 in Colfax to sort gear and optimze shuttle. Parking can be limited at takeout on busy weekends so avoid taking more vehicles than needed. Yankee Jims road down to the takeout is dirt but in good condition and high clearance is not required. The Iowa Hill road to putin is asphalt all the way and there is plenty parking and good camping by the river.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2012-05-06 Medium Fatality Cold Water Read More
2004-03-06 n/a Near Miss/Rescue Cold Water Read More
1995-06-11 Medium Fatality Other Read More
1993-05-01 High Fatality High Water Read More
1986-05-03 Medium Fatality Other Read More




Dave Steindorf


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1204701 06/08/15 Dave Steindorf
1189933 06/17/08 n/a n/a