Carson, E. Fork - Hangman's Bridge to Hwy 395

Carson, E. Fork, California, US/Nevada, US


Hangman's Bridge to Hwy 395 (Markleeville to Gardnerville)

Usual Difficulty II+(III) (for normal flows)
Length 19 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm

Lower East Fork Carson

Lower East Fork Carson
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 05/14/05 @ 1350 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-10308200 400 - 4000 cfs II+(III) 04h00m 122 cfs (too low)

River Description

The EF Carson is a popular and scenic class 2 stretch, but it is more difficult in two respects than the rating can indicate.   The water is very cold, so swims could lead to hypothermia.   While the rapids are not difficult, they are non stop in the early miles.   The current constantly pushes towards one bank or the other and those banks are undercut cliffs in many areas.   Constant manuvering is required to stay in the center of the channel.  

People often take two days and camp at hot springs, but one day runs are also feasible.  

The run is popular for boaters with whitewater open canoes with float bags.  

To reach put-in, drive south on highway 89/4 to Markleeville, and continue about a mile past town to Hangman's Bridge, where there is an outhouse. You can find better put-in spots upstream between the highway and river. Even on Friday nights, campsites are often available at a USFS campground down a dirt road before the bridge. Shuttles are readily available by inquiring at stores in Markleeville.

To reach take-out, drive north to highway 88, turn right, and descend into Nevada. You can take a shortcut by turning right on Centerville Lane, and left across a bridge before Dresslerville, although going all the way to Minden and turning right on highway 395 thru Gardnerville works too. On 395 just past the Lahonton Fish Hatchery, turn right onto a dirt road where the highway starts climbing a hill. The BLM parking lot is uphill at the end of the dirt road.  This take out has a reputation for overnight vandalism.

In years past, good shuttle service has been available near Markleeville. Paul and Gloria Washam operate a long-time company, Family Shuttle Service at 530-694-2966. The Markleeville General Store recommends River Rat Shuttle Service at 530-694-2448.

There are toilets at Hangman's Bridge put in, at the take out and one pit toilet about halfway down.   Those camping on the river should bring their own toilet systems, though they are not required.

Other Information Sources: 
Description in Bill Tuthill's California Creekin.

Cassady & Calhoun, Holbek & Stanley, Gerald Meral.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-04-04 07:30:18

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-0.7Alternate Put InN/AAccess
0.0Hangman Bridge Put InN/APutin Photo
8.8Rattlesnake DropII+Photo
19.0Take OutN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Alternate Put In (Class N/A, Mile -0.7)

If the main put in is too busy, there is a large access next to the river a bit over a half mile upstream.

Hangman Bridge Put In (Class N/A)

Hangman Bridge River Access

Hangman Bridge River Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 05/14/05 @ 1350 cfs

There is a convenient ramp down to the river on the downstream river right side of the bridge.

Rattlesnake Drop (Class II+, Mile 8.8)

Rattlesnake Drop Diagram

Rattlesnake Drop Diagram
Photo by Scott Hayward taken 03/19/17 @ 12500 cfs

This rapid formed in the winter of 2017.  The right side of the island may have the cleaner line, though perhaps also steeper.

Take Out (Class N/A, Mile 19.0)

The take out is on river right at a wide gravel beach.  Carry boats up a steep hill to the large parking area.  There are toilet facilities at this location.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 25 2017 (594 days ago)
scott haywardDetails
After running this again on April 22 @ 1250cfs I would definitely suggest scouting as this feature
continues to change. The Right channel now has a center fang rock and what looks to be a big hole
in the middle (see photo). We ran Left channel again w/o incident.
April 25 2017 (594 days ago)
scott haywardDetails
A Heads Up: Winter storm's have washed out Sidewinder rapid and there is a new 3' drop formed where
the two channels meet just above it… I did a day trip Mar 19, 2017 with some friends @12-1300 cfs
and as I passed the first two hot springs (mile 8.8ish) and entered the usual left channel run I
noticed a horizon line where there used to be a boulder bar that swept left (just above
Sidewinder). I back paddled to get a better look and ended up choosing a narrow slot in the middle
to run the newly formed 3' drop (in my IK). The left side is fenced off and the right side was run
successfully by my friends in their 10' raft and 12' cat. (Note: Others report running this @600cfs
and having problems resulting in high-sides, a broken oar, and a swim: ie, more exposed boulders
and a longer drop) The RIGHT channel run joins in adjacent to this with a 3' drop as well. Just
below this, Sidewinder Rapid no longer exists and it is an easy float around the corner. I suggest
a quick scout from the campsite on river left before the river splits (ie., the one with the
river-level hot spring). Being the first (that I know of) to run this new II+(III) rapid we suggest
the name of "Rattlesnake Drop" ?
May 4 2012 (2411 days ago)
Slinkin (154390)
Just wanted to post that I have done this river for many years and I did it for the first time this
season on this last, tuesday, 5/1 - 5/2 2012. I had a most excellent trip with an overnight at the
hotsprings. Everything was great until we got out at the Dam. When we walked to where we had parked
our takeout vehicle we found nothing but a pile of ash and marks from where it had been towed. We
found out later that someone had come over night and burned our car into nothing more then a metal
frame. The police know nothing and can give us no help. I just want to send out a warning to all of
those doing this river. We have very little money and losing a vehicle like this is a huge set-back
for us. Please all others be wary, I don't wish this stress on anyone!

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