The Poe reach is the lowest run on the North Fork Feather above the high water mark of Lake Oroville. . This 8 mile reach is comprised of two distinctly different runs: Poe Canyon and Bardees Bar. The first four miles (the Poe Canyon) are continuous class IV/V and the second four miles (Bardees Bar) are class III+ . Fortunately there is an access road at the mid point where the character of the run changes at Bardees Bar. This enables padders to do the class V or the class III+ run or both.
Put in: On Highway 70, look for a location called Sandy Beach. It is about a half mile downstream of the Poe dam and just downstream from a Cal Trans Station.
Bardees Bar access: There are two ways to get to Bardees Bar. Take the turn out off highway 70 where the power lines cross the highway for the quickest route. Take the dirt road to the right. This road is quite steep in places, so high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended. Driving time is about 15 minutes. This road should not be used if there has been much rain. Regular autos should take the Big Bend road to Bardees Bar Road. Figure about 40 minutes driving time on this route.
Take out: From Highway 70, take the Big Bend turn off. Follow Big Bend Road until you see Bardees Bar Road on the right. This gravel road will lead to the Poe Powerhouse in about 4.3 miles. At 1.3 mile there is a hairpin turn in the road, here Bardees Bar Road leaves to the left to go to Bardees Bar. To go to the powerhouse stay right. After you leave your shuttle vehicle at the Poe Powerhouse you can stay on Bardees Bar Road all the way to the Bardees Bar put-in. About a quarter mile before Bardees Bar the road is currently washed out (as of 2006) but passable with a good high clearance 4wd. It is an easy walk to the river if you choose to save your vehicle and not attempt this crossing.
The run starts out with a few easy warm up rapids before the highway 70 bridge. After the bridge things pick up quickly. After several class IV rapids a class V+ rapid that was dubbed Four Doors during the flow study. While this rapid is potentially runnable, no one during the flow study ran this rapid in its entirety. Most used the portage route on the left side, which does require some technical rock climbing. Immediately below the four doors is a short rapid with a sticky hole at the bottom. Named sticky wicket, this was the site of several extended surfs during the flow study. Next up is a long rapid named Toboggan. This rapid became substantially harder at flow levels above 500 cfs. A number of fun class IV rapids occur over the next mile. Pactchin's Passion, the only named rapid from the Holback/ Stanley Guide Book, is an impressive 12-15 foot drop that is difficult to come out of right side up. There is one more long class IV+ rapid before you reach Bardees Bar.
Below Bardees Bar the mellows considerably and flows through a delightful part of the North Fork Feather Canyon that is away from Highway 70. This section does contain several class III+ rapids. The rapid that begins immediately below the put-in can be a little junky at low flows. Several long class III + rapids follow with one IV- that is just above the bridge leading to the Poe Powerhouse. Bald Eagles are regulars to this reach, so be sure to look up while padding this section of river.
Cresta is the next run upstream.Big Bend is the next run downstream. Big Bend is in Oroville lake bottom and only available when the reservoir is very low.
Other Information Sources:
A GUIDE TO THE BEST WHITEWATER IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, HOLBEK & STANLEY, 1988
These two bridges, one for the highway and one for the railroad, mark a transition into the difficult rapids of Poe Canyon. Above the bridges is a few easier rapids and flat water. Several class 4 rapids await immediately below the bridges. The action is pretty steady from there on down.
The mileage and map locations for the rapids below are approximations based on the aerial photo map view. The order of the rapids are correct.
After several class IV rapids a class V+ rapid that was dubbed Four Doors during the flow study. While this rapid is potentially runnable, no one during the flow study ran this rapid in its entirety. The current feeds directly into an ugly sieve piton spot which is followed by a bigger sieve.
Boaters can portage on either right or left. The right side portage is reported to require some technical rock climbing. The portage on the left is reported to be an easy walk with a 15 foot rappel at the end.
The video below shows Darin McQuid running this rapid in fall of 2009 around 500 to 600 cfs. The move from left to right to avoid the sieves looks dangerous
Four Doors on the Poe Run of the North Fork Feather from Daniel Brasuell on Vimeo.
Immediately below the Four Doors rapid is a short rapid with a very sticky hole at the bottom. Flow study participants named this rapid "Sticky Wicket" because this was the site of several extended surfs during the study.
This is a very long rapid. During the flow study it was reported to be easiest at flows below 500 cfs. Boaters felt it was substantially harder above 500 cfs. The mileage and map location are approximate.
This 12 to 15 foot drop is difficult to run and stay upright. It is named after Gordon Patchin whose run of a big rapid is described in the Holbeck and Stanley book. However, that write up suggests that this rapid was actually portaged and Gordon lead the charge on the rapid immediately upstream. Hard to know.
This access point allows boaters the option of only boating the more difficult upper section or the easier lower section. A road bridge crosses the river here, so it is easy to find.
First big rapid below put-in. Below 1500 cfs, line is on the left, move right at the bottom. The rapid is junky at low flows, hence the name.
Just below the Spoil Pile. Multiple options, right boof works well.
It may be big purple and carry a hand bag but Tinky Winky will beat you it you're not carefull.
PG&E has stopped providing flow information for this reach as of October 16, 2013. AW is talking with them to see if flow information can continue.
Historical flow records for this reach are available online from USGS.
Gauge #11404400 only records low flows up to 137 cfs for the minimum releases.
Gauge #11404500 records spill flows and such that are of interest to boaters.
Year 2007 records pdf
Diversion through Poe Powerplant began on May 29, 1958.
NF Feather Schematic pdf diagram of North Fork Feather River Basin
EXTREMES FOR PERIOD OF RECORD.--Maximum discharge, 105,400 ft³/s, Jan. 1, 1997, gage height, 41.65 ft, from rating curve extended above 32,000 ft³/s, on basis of slope area measurement of peak discharge; minimum daily, 5.4 ft³/s, Sept. 18, 1977.
Gauge #11404900 records flows through the Poe powerhouse which gives some indication of what flows could be during powerhouse or dam maintanence periods if flows go into the river.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Spoil Pile rapid
Bardees Bar Bridge
Below Pulga Bridges
Charlie Guilbault runs the ledge
Upsteam from Bardees Bar
Below Pulga Bridge
Poe Section on North Fork Feather, CA
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On June 30, 2011, PG&E dropped the flow on the Poe Reach of the North Fork Feather River in California from ~2,000 cfs to a mere 114 cfs, leaving egg masses laid by the Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog high and dry. American Whitewater and partner California Sportfishing Protection Alliance called upon the State Water Resources Control Board, FERC and PG&E to prevent this from happening again. An investigation has been initiated.
On December 17th 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a new license for the Poe hydroelectric project on the North Fork Feather River (CA). This event has been long awaited by American Whitewater. AW first started working on this relicensing back in 2000. The license has been stalled out at the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for the past decade. The SWRCB holds the keys to what is typically the last step in the FERC relicensing process, a Water Quality Certification. The certification, a part of the Clean Water Act is important for maintaining water quality and was finally issued allowing for releases to begin February 2019.
Summary and collection of PG&E and AW resources and the latest in flow data for the website.
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