Difficulty IV(V)
Length 1.5 Miles
Flow Range 30 - 400 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 28 minutes ago 2.93 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 02/13/2019 7:32 pm

River Description

Brush Creek provides easy access to super fun rapids, slides and waterfalls.  Brush can be run down to very low flows and still be fun.   Most years it will have low to moderate flows which allows a wide range of boaters to enjoy themselves.  In some wet years when flows get high, the run is experts only.  The boating season generally starts in late winter, then extends through spring and some years into early summer.  Flows can also be good after winter rain storms.

There has been a Brush Creek Down River Race during the Kern River Festival for a number of years.   This is always an excellent opportunity to view and participate in trash talking and carnage as well as displays of boating skill.  .  

Getting There:
   Brush Creek enters Kern River about 19 miles north of Kernville.   It is only about 1/2 mile downstream of the Johnsondale Bridge.  It is about 70 miles and a 1.5 hour drive from Bakersfield.   From the north it is probably quickest to exit highway 99 at Earlimart to travel through Ducor, California Hot Springs and Johnsondale to reach the Kern River.  Because of the windy roads it will take nearly 2 hours from Earlimart.    You can also take highway 99 to Delano, then take highway 155 through Glenville, Wofford Heights, and Kernville, but this is considered the slowest route into the Kern Valley.

Take out:
There is a big parking lot at the confluence of Brush Creek with the Kern River.   It is easiest to take out just after the bridge.

Put in: From the take out, go north on the main road a very short distance then turn right up Sherman Pass road.   Drive about a mile and a half, to a large area designated as a helicopter landing pad. There is a plenty of parking off to the sides. Hike upstream along a dirt road till you see a heavily used trail leading down to the creek. The walk is about 1/4 - 1/2 mile to the creek (careful in the winter, there are some steep spots and it can get very slippery if muddy).

Other information sources:
SierraSouth.com.   Sells paddling gear and has the latest news.
oregonkayaking.net/creeks/brush/brush.html   Trip report and photos from 2005
http://www.awetstate.com/BrushCreek.html  Photos and rapid descriptions at below 1 on visual guage

http://www.kimandgeoff.com/kayak/brushcreek032605/index.html  Photos
http://www.kimandgeoff.com/kayak/brushcreek061006/index.html  Photos

2007 Brush Creek Race youtube video 
2005 High Water kayaking  youtube video   
2005 Rafting - Video  Two R-2 teams paddle Brush Creek at high water, June 2, 2005. (5.5 on the visual gauge).  
2010, December video: Brush at 10 visual gauge
Upper Brush Creek story
Upper Brush-CaliProductVideo

Kern River Festival
Kern River Alliance
Kern Valley River Council

Bo James Drowning,  June 14, 2010










Rapid Descriptions


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9 years ago

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angela baldo
10 years ago

Check out this rockin' 9-year-old girl running. http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2010/05/05/sage-donnelly-9yrs-old-takes-on-cas-brush-creek-video/ She's got some sweet moves. I'm totally jealous. And I'm almost 5 times her age! LOL

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Gene Hacker
12 years ago

On Monday March 24 the flow was just below 1 on the guage. On Wednesday March 26 the flow was just over 1. Note: The pools below the bigger drops on Brush creek have silted in over the last week or so. It is less than 4ft deep in the landing zone of the big drop. The pool below the biggest sequence (that you can see from the road) is also silted. A bunch of folks were hitting hard this weekend. Also...always be careful of down trees. We ran it twice yesterday and on the second run there were two new trees across the river. This was in the span of an hour or two. It was a breezy day but not crazy windy or anything. Anyhow...something to keep in mind.

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12 years ago

Thursday, Feb. 28th, just below 2.5 on the gauge. Saturday, March 1st just below 2.0. Friday, March 7th, at 1.0. Sunday, March 9th, just below 1.0. Sunday, March 9th gauge re-done, easier to read. The numbers were all re-alligned to where they had been. Special care was made to make sure "3" and "5" markings were unchanged. Monday, March 10th just below 1. Thursday, March 13 just above 1.

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Gene Hacker
12 years ago

(Sunday, Feb 24 2008) At 2.30pm brush creek was a bit over 3 on the gage and dropping. At 4.30 it was down right at 3. There is one log limbo which is to low when the water is anything above "super low flow". There were two but we pulled one out today.

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Gene Hacker
12 years ago

Brush Creek flows on Friday Feb 8th was below the guage. It is still runnable but very low. Any lower would be unadvised. There is a low flow indicator that is better than the gauge for low flows...by driving up the road to the put in and stopping where you can see up the canyon/run...if the largest drop you see (the double drop at the bottom of the large sequence) has water running all the way across the lip (as opposed to just on the river left side) the run will go. Of course this is very low. The drops are still all clean but the slides and boulder sections can be frustrating. At flows below the gauge the run is not "destination worthy" but if your in the area, and you don't mind sacrificing some plastic...its worth checking out. On Friday Feb 8th water was all the way across the lip but just barely.

Gage Descriptions

There's a visual gage at the takeout bridge on Brush Creek.   It was repainted in 2010 with 3 inch increments.   The new 2 reading is the same as the old 2 reading at 78 inches from the top.   The new 5 is one inch higher than the old 5.   The new 7 is 1.5 inches higher than the old 7.   The new 0 & 1 are slightly lower than the old 0 & 1.    (Thanks to Brett Duxbury for this information.)    A few locals tend to report visual flows on the forums at Boof.com or Dreamflows.com/Forums/Flows.    Visual gauge readings may also get reported to the SierraSouth. store or at Kernville Brewery. 

Some people will boat Brush at around 1. Others consider 1.6 a minimum, while 4.5 is high, and above 5 is "very high."

There is no online gauge for Brush Creek itself.  There are some online flow and snow gauges that may be helpful in estimating flow from a distance, at least until a local reports a visual reading.    

The Pascoes snow gauge is near the headwaters of Brush Creek and can give a sense of what the spring runoff season will be like.   Eric Giddens reported on Boof.com that the spring peak reading on the Brush Creek visual gauge tends to be around 1/10 of the peak snow water content reading.    Watching the temperature gauge and watching the drop in snow water content reading during spring runnoff, may be very helpful in estimating sprinig flows.

The SF Tule has a similar drainage area and elevation as Brush Creek, plus it is very close by to the east.   The two creeks should have somewhat similar spring snowmelt flow patterns.   They can have very different reactions to rain storms.   Brush will tend to react much less or even not at all to winter storms that bring the Tule up to high levels.   Brush is in a rain shadow cast by the Tule headwaters and sometimes gets snow when the Tule gets rain.  Still, the gauges available on the SF Tule seem to be a helpful, realtime, online way of estimating Brush Creek flows. There is an upper SF Tule gauge at Cholollo Campground gauge.  This one is graphed below as it seems most likely to have a reasonable correlation with Brush Creek.   A lower one is near the reservation Boundary gauge.    To see if there is a dependable relationship between Brush and SF Tule, please document as often as possible, the level on Brush at specific dates and times and the flow at Cholollo at the same date and time.   Post Brush Creek compared to SF Tule flow information in the comments section of this page, and/or at Dreamflows bulletin board, and at Boof.com.    If you take pictures please post them with the date, time and visual gauge reading.    Reports which have been recieved or figured out are in the table below. 

If the SF Tule is in the green during spring runoff, then there is a good likelyhood that Brush is also runnable and worth checking.   Check other sources for visual reports.


Table Comparing visual reports with gauge reports.   (The old visual readings have been altered to correspond with the new, 2010 visual gauge readings.)

Date Time Visual


Accuracy Notes/reporter
2010-Dec-18   4 & 5 200-500 200+- hourly-mid day range Geno
2010-Dec-19   10 1000-2000 1600-3200 Afternoon - hourly Geno video
2010-Feb-24   4.3 150-350   mid day range Guido -boof


  <1 30   Daily Average Geno
2008-03-26   >1 35   Daily Average Geno
2008-03-13   >1 39   Daily Average Geno
2008-03-10   <1 31   Daily Average Geno
2008-03-9   <1 31   Daily Average Geno
2008-03-7   1 31   Daily Average Geno
2008-03-1   <2 43   Daily Average Geno
2008-02-28   <2.5 41   Daily Average Geno
2007 Jan-5 10 AM 2 50 200 15 minute Geno
2007   < 1 10 30   Evan L
2007   < 1 10 30 Daily Average Race Video
2006 May 2   4.6 109 189 Daily Average Tyson Hazard photo
2005 Apr 16   3.8 51 107 Daily Average

Tim Perry video

2001 Apr 20   2.6 28 67 Daily Average

Scott Ostram photo


Historical records for the SF Tule gauges are only daily averages rather than hourly.    The daily average can be very different from the actual flow at the time of a visual reading.  Hopefully the daily average is in the general ballpark of the real reading at the time of the visual.


Geno, who has put the most effort into this comparison feels that the relationship is really not very helpful, especially during rain events when SF Tule is very responsive, but Brush does not respond.   During the spring snowmelt, the comparison may be more helpful.   Best bet is just to look for frequent visual reports from locals at boof.com, dreamflows.com and similar forums.




Directions Description









Take out:   There is a big parking lot at the confluence of Brush Creek with the Kern River.    google map   It is easiest to take out just after the bridge.

Put in: From the take out, go north on the main road a very short distance then turn right up Sherman Pass road.   Drive about a mile and a half, to a large area designated as a helicopter landing pad. There is a plenty of parking off to the sides. Hike upstream along a dirt road till you see a heavily used trail leading down to the creek. The walk is about 1/4 - 1/2 mile to the creek.  Be extra careful in the winter as there are some steep spots which can get very slippery if muddy.  During heavy rains the trail turns into a creek.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2010-06-14 Medium Fatality Other Read More



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Sierra & Sequoia National Forest Management Plans (CA)

Theresa Simsiman

The U.S. Forest Service recently released the revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Forest Plans (DFP) for the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. As part of this process, National Forests are required to identify the eligibility of rivers for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Once a river is found eligible it is managed to protect the values that support their inclusion. To that end, American Whitewater has identified recreation as an outstandingly remarkable value on many iconic whitewater rivers within the Sierra and Sequoia National Forest and is advocating for their inclusion into the inventory of eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers. Dinkey Creek Photo by Daniel Lundberg

article main photo

Help Protect S. Sierra Whitewater Rivers (CA)!

Megan Hooker

This summer the Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo National Forests are seeking feedback from the public on their update and revisions to Forest Management Plans. These plans set the stage for how the forest will be managed for the next 20 years. Unfortunately, the agency's draft analysis on Wild and Scenic Rivers has largely neglected whitewater recreation values of classic whitewater rivers, including Dinkey Creek. Paddler's voices are important in this process! The deadline to comment is August 25th.

article main photo

AW Recommends California Rivers for Wild and Scenic

Megan Hooker

Last week, American Whitewater recommended that the U.S. Forest Service assess whether numerous whitewater rivers in California are eligible for Wild and Scenic status. The agency is currently revising Forest Plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests, and this process provides an opportunity to evaluate rivers for whether they are eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. If a river is found eligible through this process, the Forest Service protects the values that could make it worthy for Wild and Scenic designation, including its free-flowing characteristics. 

Matt Muir


Paul Martzen


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1192091 03/12/09 n/a n/a
1197862 06/23/10 Paul Martzen link to accident report
1197295 02/26/10 Paul Martzen updated flow table & info
1199078 12/22/10 Paul Martzen updated gauge link, minor edits
1211135 02/13/19 Paul Martzen updated image position