Dinkey Creek, California, US
|Usual Difficulty||V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||130 fpm|
|Dinkey Creek Above North Fork Kings|
|dream-453||200 - 1000 cfs||V||42d21h30m||643 cfs (running)|
The Balch Camp section is an excellent short introduction to Dinkey Creek which is accessible year round. Boaters paddling the Dinkey Creek Waterfalls section will know the Balch Camp section as the last 1 3/4 miles of the Waterfalls reach. They may wonder why they should bother with a short section of such a famous run. This section has its own listing for several important reasons. First off, this was the first section of Dinkey Creek to be run (by Paul Martzen and Ollie Brown in 1985). For a year or two it was the only section of Dinkey to be run. Secondly, it has easy year round access, so it can be run as soon as flows come up in the winter, when other sections are inaccessible. Three, this section has a fairly wide flow range and can be run at much higher levels than the Waterfalls section. High flows in this reach and in the NF Kings immediately downstream provide a very different experience than the flows typically boated when doing the Waterfalls section.
With such easy access, boaters can take advantage of good flows during the winter.
Boaters paddling Dinkey, frequently continue on down the North Fork Kings as they are similar in
difficulty. Since Balch Camp is only a few minutes away from the class 3 Banzai! section of the Main Kings, expert
boaters can paddle Dinkey and the NF Kings while their intermediate friends paddle Banzai!.
Season: Dinkey will typically run from midwinter, during big storms and after sufficient storms, till early June.
Character: Dinkey Creek is pool drop, but with long, technical rapids between short pools. There are a number of bedrock ledge drops but many rapids consist of finding routes through fields of medium to large boulders. The difficulty of this stretch is similar to that of the North Fork Kings, immediately downstream, though Dinkey is steeper and more technical.
Getting There: From Fresno take freeway 180 east, to its end, jog to Belmont Avenue and continue east. Belmont will curve and become Trimmer Springs Rd. Stay on Trimmer springs road all the way around Pine Flat Reservoir. As you go around the reservoir you will pass several marinas, and cross bridges over large two inlets formed by Sycamore Creek and then Big Creek. Eventually you will reach the Kings River and you will go past the Kings River Powerhouse with its large pipe carrying most of the water from the N. Fork Kings. Continue past Kirch Flat Campground, cross a concrete bridge to the south side of the river, then cross the noisy steel Bailey Bridge back to the north side of the river. Stay on the paved road going left at this bridge. In 100 yards you will reach the canyon of the N. Fork Kings. You can leave a car at the NF and main confluence if like most you are combining Dinkey and the NF Kings. Continue 3 miles along the paved road and you will reach Balch Camp, a PG&E residential area for workers who run the nearby powerhouses and dams. There is no store here, or other public facilities. google map.
Put-in: From Balch Camp, stay on the same road, now Black Rock Rd. as it crosses the NF Kings river, but don't cross the steel bridge over Dinkey Creek. Follow Black Rock Rd. for about one mile as it goes up the Dinkey drainage. About half way up the road a big pipe crosses overhead. This pipe carries water from the NF Kings, across Dinkey, through the mountain and to the Kings River powerhouse that you passed near Kirch Flat. There is a good view of Dinkey Creek where this pipe crosses the road. At about 1 or 1.5 miles from Balch Camp, the road turns away from Dinkey and heads back to the NF Kings drainage. Park at a fairly large turnout at the turn and you will find a trail following an old road cut further upstream. google map.
Hike this short level trail around to a clearing and junction where you will find a collection of old junk and machinery laying around. At this junction, one trail stays high and leads up to the end of the Waterfalls section. Another trail leads downwards more directly to the creek, though still heading upstream. Follow this downhill trail till just above the creek where you will find more old mining remains. From here the easiest access to the creek is to hike downstream a short distance and the trail will meet the creek next to a large sand pile. google map. Many people continue upstream a little farther to a big pool that marks the end of the waterfalls section. It is not far but it is awkward finding the best way through brush and down a steep bank to the creek. There is a very big rapid (Funky Chicken) leading into this pool. Between the pool and the sand pile put-in are some busy rapids and a small waterfall.
Alternate / short put-in: In Balch Camp, turn left over the Dinkey Creek bridge. Go straight towards a house then turn right on the first dirt road. Go through a gate (close it behind you) and park at the penstock crossing. This put-in provides a shorter introduction to this section of Dinkey.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.3||Sand Pile put-in|
|1.3||Dinkey Siphon rapid||IV|
|1.5||Dinkey Creek Bridge||IV|
|1.7||Confluence with N. Fork Kings||IV|
A long ugly jumble of steep boulders leads to several ledges which finish at the large Put-in Pool. Funky Chicken is really the last rapid of the Waterfalls section, but some folks like to carry up and run it so that the rest of the Dinkey walk-in section seems boring.
This beautiful pool marks a distinct transition between the Waterfalls Section and the Dinkey Walk-in or Balch section. The character of the creek is distinctly different between upstream and downstream of this pool. Getting to this put-in requires a bit of extra route finding and work as compared to the Sand Pile put-in a short ways downstream.
The creek pools behind a large bedrock dam. Boaters can usually beach on top of the dam to scout. At low flows a steep, tight slot in the center can be run. At high flows this center slot is probably too sticky, but a left side route opens up.
Probably the steepest and junkiest rapid on this section of creek. (Not counting Funky Chicken). The creek dissapears into a short maze of small boulders, before opening up in the middle of the drop. Scout from center island/boulders. The usual line involves tight manuvering to get to the left side then careening down over some boulder ledges. A short pool then leads to some very pretty ledge drops.
A steep congested rapid. At high flows numerous lines open up, but at lower flows there is a line down the right side that involves charging up onto the right wall, sliding down, then immediately doing that again.
A large pipe crosses overhead, carrying water from the NF Kings to the Kings River Powerhouse. A long steep slalom rapid starts immediately after. If you see a huge spray of water coming from river right, near the bottom of the rapid, PG&E is releasing 10 to 25 cfs from a valve. (required by FERC for fish) Beware! The spray is strong enough to knock you over.
Below the siphon rapid there are several interesting ledge drops along with more slalom. The creek mellows for a short distance to the bridge, but then it picks up speed again as it goes under the bridge and makes a final dash to the N. Fork Kings.
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