Bear - Highway 174 Bridge to Lake Combie

Bear, California, US


Highway 174 Bridge to Lake Combie

Usual Difficulty II-V (for normal flows)
Length 11 Miles
Avg. Gradient 74 fpm


Photo by Daniel Brasuell

River Description

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This run includes two sections.  The upper 2.1 miles are described below (from Hwy 174 to Ben Taylor Rd).  The lower nine miles are Class II (From Ben Taylor Rd to Combie Reservior).

Upper Run
Highway 174 to Ben Taylor Road,   2.1 miles,    Class 4 to 5
The Stanley Holbek book says the flows to run this at are between 300 and 600 cfs. Our day we had about 2.67 feet or so, which is about 600-650 cfs. I think the book is just outdated. In their defense they do say they only did it once and it was at the low flow. I know some people run it up in the high 1000s, however that is not for the normal boater and I am sure that it is class V at that level. As it were, I thought our flow was perfect. None of the rapids were pushy, the rocks were mostly covered, and eddies were still existent.

This river although not that hard when being run successful should still be respected. The nature of the river is sieves. Shackleton related to me his experiences from seeing it at very low flows, and told of honeycombed river bottom, potholes six feet deep, and paddles that disappeared in the middle a rapid, never to be seen again. So, the rapids at my flow were class IV to IV+, but apparently both higher and lower are more difficult.

So with all that said, I really enjoyed my day on the water. Don’t expect to spend a long day. If you know the lines, it will only take about 30 minutes to do the run. Even with the tree cutting, shuttle, photos, scouting, photos of the other group of boaters, watching them run rapids etc, it still only took 3 hours total… gas station meeting to parting at the freeway. This though is one of the nice things about the run, it is perfect to get on some great whitewater but not have to make a whole day of it. Well anyways, enough blabbering, I liked it and will be back… perhaps though in a few years if the trend for me and this river continues.

One last thing, the only rapid names I know of on this run are “Trash Can” and “Spanky and the Gang.” The rest are generic… but those two are real, just thought all should know.


 Courtesy of Daniel Brasuell at A Wet State


Lower Run 
Ben Taylor Road to Lake Combie:  9 miles,   Class 2


Other Information Sources:
Cacreeks guide to Bear river, class 2 section.
Nevada Irrigation District  controls the outflow from Rollins Reservoir and the diversion into Bear Canal.
NID's Public Relicensing Website  FERC license #2266

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-01-20 17:34:27

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
2.1Ben Taylor RoadPutin Takeout Access

Rapid Descriptions

Ben Taylor Road

Ben Taylor Road is an access point that is used as a take out for the upper two miles of class 4 to 5.   It is also used as a put in for the lower 9 miles of class 2 boating. 

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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.