Cache Creek - 1) Hwy 20 to the Bear Creek Confluence

Cache Creek, California, US


1) Hwy 20 to the Bear Creek Confluence (Wilderness Run)

Usual Difficulty II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 18 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm
Max Gradient 30 fpm

Mad Mike Rapid

Mad Mike Rapid
Photo of Bret by Chuck Bartley taken 05/30/02 @ 850 CFS

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Cache Creek Below Clear Lake
dream-394 1000 - 7000 cfs II(III) 03h30m 4 cfs (too low)
No. Cache Creek Rel Indian Valley Dam
dream-033 500 - 6000 cfs II(III) 04h00m 10 cfs (too low)
usgs-11451000 500 - 5000 cfs II(III) 00h29m 3.65 cfs (too low)

River Description

The usual objection to paddling Cache Creek are the hordes of Kamakazee Komercial Kayakers. The Wilderness run pretty much eliminates this problem since 'the commercials' don't use that part of the river. They do use the last four miles of the wilderness run but by the time you get there, they will have most likely gone. In any case, we often do not see another person until the last two miles.

The run is very pretty if you like semi-arid mixed chaparral interesting geology kind of views (I do). We have seen Bald eagles, otters, deer swimming the river, osprey, quail, elk, herons, and wild turkey.

The big danger on this run is with trees in the water. Since this is a dam controlled stream, the water seldom gets high enough to clear the obstructions. There are several nasty spots where the less experienced members should consider walking. There are two of these in sharp right-hand bends.

There are some pretty good play spots as well. There are spots to surf, ender, cartwheel, and splat.

The shuttle takes an hour or so round-trip.

Here is the link to Bill Tuthill's California Creekin Website description of the Rumsey Run. This includes the section below this run.

Here are aerial photos of some of the rapids -- Note - you may be required to register to see these photos - It is a quick and simple process, and, as far as I can tell, it is without strings --:

This is the first of the ugly sweepers
Twist and Shout
Mad Mike Rapid
County Line Rapid


Other information sources: California Creekin - Cache Creek.
BRT Insights: Cache Creek guide
Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District

Cache Creek Natural Area, Ukiah Field Office, BLM

Cache Creek Conservancy


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-12-10 05:38:51

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
2.0Confluence with Cache Creek
4.0Ugly SweeperHazard
8.0Twist and ShoutII+Playspot
17.0Mad MikeIIIHazard Playspot Photo
18.0Rusty TruckTakeout
18.5County LineIIIHazard Playspot
18.8Yolo County - Upper SiteAccess
20.0Yolo County - Middle SiteAccess

Rapid Descriptions

Put in at the BLM parking lot where state Highway 20 crosses the North Fork of Cache Creek. Easy access - Note that the North Fork will be very small compared to Cache Creek. There are also significant issues with sweepers and debris in the streambed on this two mile section down to the confluence. We punctured a raft tube here one time on an old trailer axel.

Confluence with Cache Creek

The north fork merges with the main branch of Cache Creek that comes out of Clear Lake after 2 miles. Be sure to note the contrast between the cold clear water of the North Fork (from Snow Mountain via Indian Valley Reservoir) and the warm, smelly, brown water from "Clear" Lake.

Ugly Sweeper
At about Mile 4 - distance is approximate. It is in a sharp Right Hand turn.

Twist and Shout (Class II+, Mile 8.0)
Distance approximate - Fun rapid - Left hand turn and drop around large rock. At end of long boulder garden.

Mad Mike (Class III, Mile 17.0)
icon of message Photo removed
This is usually the toughest rapid on the run. It is almost within sight of the take out in a sharp "S" turn that starts to the left and then goes back to the right. There is a significant turning drop that flows into a rock/hole (depending on the flow). Scout or portage right.

Rusty Truck
This is a possible take out. It is at the confluence with Bear Creek and it is where you will see Highway 16 and Civilization for the first time in a while. There was an old dump truck abandoned here for many years. It was removed in 2002.

County Line (Class III, Mile 18.5)
This is a good Reason to continue beyond the Rusty Truck take out. There is a II called "Up Against the Wall" directly below the Bear Creek Put-in/Take-Out. The next rapid is right on the county line and has a large drop that inevetibly takes you through a hole and shoves you into rocks on river right as there is a 90 degree turn to the left at the bottom of the drop. Fun stuff.

Yolo County - Upper Site

This is often a better take out. It will cost $3 if you leave a car here but you can get very close to the water.

Yolo County - Middle Site

This is another take out. This is the public campground. It has a nice II+ rapid right below the camp and a great play spot. You can drive to within 100 feet of the river.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 4 2018 (219 days ago)
Zak LiebyDetails
The low water bridge was condemned and the road to buck island has been closed for 4 or 5 years.
There are no commercial trips on the wilderness run anymore which makes the privacy even better!

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