American, S. Fork, California, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||89 fpm|
|Max Gradient||120 fpm|
|So. American Below Slab Creek Dam|
|dream-670||500 - 3500 cfs||IV-V||00h32m||12 cfs (too low)|
The Slab Creek reach begins with several class IV+ rapids that are within sight of the put-in. The river has a very continuous nature for the next four miles. Many of the rapids are long and require good class IV skills. Mosquito Road Bridge at river mile 3.6 provides alternate access options. The most significant rapid on the run, class V Motherlode Falls, occurs shortly after the bridge.
The gradient eases after this point and the run becomes class II/III in nature. There also is more vegetation, primarily Alders, in the river channel in the lower section. Rock Creek enters on river right at river mile 6.5. The Rock Creek Power House could provide a potential put-in providing access to the class II/III section when SMUD completes a future downstream take-out.
Put in: From Highway 50 in Placerville, take the Schnell School road exit and go north to Carson Rd. till N. Canyon road. Follow N. Canyon Road to Slab Creek Reservoir road and follow that to a junction near the Slab Creek dam. Two gated roads head downhill. One road leads to the right and to the dam. The other leads to the river a short ways below the dam. Unless we can arrange otherwise, parking will be in the turnouts along the road above the USFS gates. The area by the gates must be kept clear as a turn around. Carry boats 3/10s of a mile down to the river. This will be the site of the future improved put-in.
Take out: In the interim of a new Slab Creek Take-Out to be constructed by SMUD, the Rock Creek Powerhouse located on the north side of the river at mile 6.5 will be the public take-out. From Highway 193 in Placerville go east 6 miles on Rock Creek Road. The entrance to the powerhouse will be the second road on the right after you cross over Rock Creek. The gate will be open during scheduled recreational releases by SMUD and limited parking is available by the powerhouse. The gate will be closed all other times but public access to the river is still allowed. BLM has made special arrangements for parking during recreational releases and we ask all boaters to respect the resource or it can be closed to our parking use. Please DO NOT BLOCK THE GATE.
Mosquito Road Bridge is an alternate take out allows boating the steepest few miles while avoiding Morthelode Falls and the easier water below. Unfortunately there only 3 to 5 parking spaces at this bridge. Make sure the bridge stays clear. There are some parking options further away.
From a rafting perspective River Runners President, John Kosakowsky wrote this excerpt from “Slab Creek: The Run That Time Forgot”:
I logged 8 trips on Slab Creek in December and January (some friends of mine rafted it 20 times!). The flows varied between 550 and 1600 cfs. At the low end, we R2ed 10 and 12 foot rafts. You can run all of the holes at low flows and are more worried about big rocks in the way than anything else. It’s a beautiful slalom course and it isn’t very pushy which is nice. At flows around 1000 cfs, a 13’ raft is ideal as there are really powerful drops and holes that want to surf your craft. At 1600 cfs it’s fast and powerful. There are at least 3 river wide ledges that have only one weakness to drive through. The lines are blind at times with the waves crashing high into the air. It starts to feel closer to Class V, and I’m sure the swims would feel at least that serious.
Read the full article on the River Runners website –
Jason Bates wrote at boof.cem,,,,,
Thomas M. wrote ot Boof.com
I think medium flows are between 900-1300. The river starts to get more difficult above 1500 and is much more technical the lower it gets like 600-800
I would rate the run class IV+ overall at medium flows with the exception of mother lode falls V which has a sneak rout on the far left and a semi difficult portage on the right. Another option if you want your shuttle shorter and to avoid portaging mother lode is to take out on river left at Mosquito Ridge rd.
A GUIDE TO THE BEST WHITEWATER IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, HOLBEK & STANLEY, 1998
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|3.6||Mosquito Road Bridge||N/A|
|6.5||Rock Creek & Powerhouse||N/A|
the Mosquito Road Bridge at river mile 3.6 can provide alternate access and also warns of the approach to the hardest section of the river. Below the bridge several rapids get harder, culminating in Motherlode Falls.
Below Mosquito Rd. Bridge, several rapids get progessively harder as they lead towards the biggest rapid on this run. Motherlode Falls is an awkward portage for many boaters. Reportedly there is a sneak line on far river left.
Rock Creek enters on river right at river mile 6.5. The Rock Creek Power House could provide a potential put-in providing access to the class II/III section of Slab Creek when SMUD completes a future downstream take-out. This section is class II/III with one rapid that is potentially class III+.
During the winter and Spring the creek and powerhouse can sometimes deliver enough water into the river to provide boatable flows. Generally though, the additional water will be less than 100 cfs.
FERC Extends Deadline on Upper American River Project (CA)
November 18, 2006
South Fork American: Signed Sealed Delivered
February 5, 2007
Mosquito Bridge Replacement Project - SFA below Slab Creek (CA)
December 16, 2015
River Access Mosquito Road Bridge (CA)
December 2, 2014
2016 Release Schedule for Ice House & Slab Creek (CA)
March 3, 2016
Comments to El Dorado County DOT re:Mosquito Road Bridge Replacement Project