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Difficulty IV-V
Length 43 Miles
Flow Range 400 - 1000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 1000 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 11/10/2018 2:59 pm

River Description

Deer Creek has the lore of the Ishi Wilderness hemmed in by basalt and poison oak.
The rapids are tasty and the window on this run is limited.
Preferred as a multi-day expedition. Deer Creek flows through the land of the Yahi Yana people cutting into some beautiful remote areas with thick chapparal vegetation and mini-canyons. Deer Creeek sits in the Lassen National Forest and holds some unique geology and whitewater. (Imagine boating through long tubes of black basalt akin to tunnels on the lower section.)

Overnight parking at the take-out has resulted in break-ins. Shuttle bunnies rule!


Cassady & Calhoun, Holbek & Stanley, Martin

See Bill Tuthill's California Creekin and Jason Rackley's Oregon Kayaking for great descriptions, including pictures that'll make you want to pack up and leave right now, of this classic multiday creeking trip.
Rackley says: "You will never forget your first run down this creek; it is truly a wonderful, thrilling, altogether fulfilling experience!"

Rapid Descriptions


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Chris Tulley
12 years ago

DANGER -- PIN SPOT: Our group experienced almost the exact same scenario as described below. On 5/26/06 flow ~500 CFS@ Vina.

First boater went down to the right of log. Log underwater and not visible as a hazard from water or shore.

Second boater went down the *cleaner looking* line just to the right of the large boulder (river left). Stern caught and boat backflipped at 45 deg off vertical. Larger paddler was able to escape with significant effort. This may not have been possible with a near vertical pin. Boat was recovered with aid of raft and large team of coordinated effort.

Based on my recollection, this drop is ~4 miles from Pondorosa way and the drop is a boulder drop of 10-15 vertical feet. Flow is from river right to river left. There is a large (~20 foot diameter rock) on the far left. and a smaller (~10 foot diameter rock) on the right. The log is along the left most 8-10 feet of channel between these two rocks. Drop is easily walked on river right.

Be safe out there.


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Craig Irwin
13 years ago

Extrusive basalt towers rising from verdant volcanic loam, a few blind lead-in rapids, poison oak a-plenty, this run is committing.
Note: parking a car at this takeout can likely earn a broken window/break in theft
hell, same thing applies to the put-in

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Thomas O'Keefe
12 years ago

Submitted by Jon Hindman:

Location: Lower Deer Creek, definitely below the Ponderosa Way Bridge, but above the last three more challenging drops in the lower section. Party launched at Potato Patch Campground for three-day trip. Launch date: late Saturday afternoon, May 20. Guage level was holding at around 4.13 the last time we checked flow. Was 3.95 when we floated past gauge on Tuesday afternoon. Group was very experienced, two of us were on our 4th trip down Deer Creek, and have tons of other CA runs on our resume, including multiple upper Mill Creek, Devil's Canyon Middle Feather, Bald Rock Canyon, and S. Fork Merced trips.

This drop looks like virtually nothing. I boat scouted it from the top, and elected a straight line down the right side, away from the large overhanging boulder in river center. Run was uneventful, and nothing in the water's surface characteristics indicated possible problem. Second paddler more or less followed my line, maybe two or three feet left at most, and was straight on and paddling easily. From my view position, it appeared as though the boat stalled in a small pillow wave, and suddenly back-endered as the water caught the back end which was loaded with self-contained trip gear. Boat slid under the submerged log and was pinned vertically immediately, with less than 1 foot of bow visible. Paddler was submerged for approximately 10 seconds and then emerged on downstream side of log, swam last part of drop into pool below.

Boat proceeded to sink further until just 6" or so of bow was visible. We were able to use a long tree limb with carabiner/ throw rope taped to it to clip in to bow grab bar. Subsequent attempts to free boat toward river right were unsuccessful, including a 3-pulley z-drag. This in fact may have wedged boat further into a tightening slot at river right end of log. Boat was left as darkness fell, and we camped above on a bench. Short work next morning with different z-drag pull from the top of the large boulder in center of river freed boat, although getting back up and out to boulder required considerable effort. Boat was badly bent, but not broken, and there was no loss of gear.

This log appears to be quite well "seasoned." It is approximately 16-24" in diameter and quite smooth, probably 10-12ft long and dead perpendicular to the current. At the level we were on, it was completely invisible. At higher flows, it probably does not pose a threat, and at lower flows may be visible and well-known. It caught us completely by surprise, and could be a death trap to a larger paddler unlucky enough to experience the same pin.

Hope this helps others. Email me if you have any other questions. Jon Hindman Jackson, WY

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Matt Muir


Craig Irwin