This photo needs editing.
Difficulty IV-V(V+)
Length 9.4 Miles
Gauge So. American Below Kyburz
Flow Range 600 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 2 hours ago 17 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 06/14/2010 7:28 pm

River Description

An often overlooked California classic, Golden Gate is a one day run composed of miles upon miles of steep boulder gardens of the finest quality.   Five larger rapids are mixed in.   While none are mandatory portages, several of the five are often portaged.

Golden Gate runs during the late winter and spring.   To be satisfying for the class V boater, Golden Gate needs adequate flows, with 1000 generally considered optimal.

The name Golden Gate has little to do with the character of the run, other than the steepness.   It is an ironic reference to an early prediction that the section was unrunnable.  Charles Martin wrote in the 1974 Sierra Whitewater guidebook, "This run would be a novel substitute for jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge."    Charles was no slouch, but he could not predict the development of plastic boats and sky jumping/boofing techniques. 

Getting There:  Take Highway 50 from Sacramento up to Pollock Pines. 

Take out:  In Pollock Pines take the Sly Park exit and go north.   At Pony Express Trail turn left, then immediately turn right onto Forebay Road.   Follow Forebay road all the way to a bridge over the SF American River, about 8 miles.   There appears to be easy river access on the north side of the river,  just downstream of the bridge. 

Put in:  Continue on Highway 50 past Pollock Pines a few miles to Pacific House and turn north.  Head right on Peavine Ridge Road.  It turns to dirt and leads to a bridge across the river.   Alternatively,  continue on Highway 50 till it is close enough to the river to provide access. 

There is camping nearby on Ice House Road.   Groceries and gasoline are available in Pollock Pines.  Meals are available at many locations along Highway 50. 


Other information Sources:
Jefferson State Creeking
Sierra Whitewater,  Charles Martin, 1974

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

The flow at Kyburz should generally give a good estimate of flows in the Golden Gate section.  However, Silver Creek at mile 6.5 can sometimes bring in significant additional flows.   In 2010 there is no online gauge on Silver Creek or on the SF American below Silver Creek.   However, if flows below Slab Creek Reservoir are significantly higher than Kyburz, then flows are probably coming down Silver Creek. 


Historical records are available for several gauges in these reaches.
SF American near Kyburz - USGS #114395.  Operated by El Dorado Irrigation District, below their diversion.  

SF American below Silver Creek-USGS #11442500 was operational from 1969 to 1993.
Silver Creek -USGS #11442000, just above the SF American confluence, was operational from 1922 to 1961.  This gauge shows pre-dam, natural flows.
Silver Creek below Camino - USGS #11441900, shows flows since the construction of the dams and powerhouses. 
Silver Creek below Junction Dam- USGS #11441800, only operated from 1987 to 1991, and only shows minimum releases from the dam.  Spillway flows bypassed this gauge.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
1987-04-04 Low Fatality Other Read More



article main photo

1000+ Comments Halt Threats to the South Fork American River (CA)

Theresa Simsiman

Last May American Whitewater and our colleagues at Friends of the River asked for your help to stop El Dorado Irrigation District’s (EID) proposed modification of Water Right Permit 21112. This proposal contained changes to water diversion points for 17,000-acre feet of water per year that would have been detrimental to 50 miles of whitewater on the South Fork American River. This included our favorite Class II-V whitewater reaches on Kyburz, Golden Gate, Slab Creek, Chili Bar, Coloma to Greenwood & the Gorge. We are happy to report your overwhelming response generated 1065 comments helping to stop this proposal in its tracks.


Matt Muir


Paul Martzen


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1189940 07/07/07 n/a n/a
1197812 06/14/10 Paul Martzen added historical flow links, directions