Kings, S. Fork - 2. Park Boundary to Boyden Cave

Kings, S. Fork, California, US


2. Park Boundary to Boyden Cave

Usual Difficulty IV-V(V+) (for normal flows)
Length 8 Miles

Boogy Water

Boogy Water
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 08/16/11 @ 750 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Kings, MF or SF
virtual-50759 300 - 1500 cfs IV-V(V+) 77h06m ~ 492.5 cfs (running)
cdec-KRR 200 - 1000 cfs IV-V(V+) 04h07m 192 cfs (too low)

River Description

The South Fork Kings is very pretty and worth visiting just for the spectacular scenery.   The whitewater is also excellent with two sections of class 4 boating, seperated by a section of class 5, 5+ and class 6 intermixed with great looking class 4. The river is all roadside so it is easy to pick and choose what you feel like boating.   Flows on this section drop into runnable range after many other rivers have dried up, so it is an excellent late season destination. 

Directions: From Fresno, take highway 180 through Grant's Grove towards Cedar Grove. Highway 180 climbs over Cherry Gap (6800 feet) then drops down into Kings Canyon. The road finally reaches the river at Boyden Cave, then follows the river to Cedar Grove.

Boating is not allowed on the SF Kings inside Kings Canyon Nat. Park from the confluence with Bubbs Creek to the park boundary.   See: Seki boating.   The river through Cedar Grove is mostly class 1 & 2 and would attract the unskilled.  There is at least one short section of class 5 and perhaps a section or two of class 4 or class 3.

There are two sections of moderate whitewater between the Park boundary and Boyden Cave, seperated by a long section of very big drops and monstrous cascades.

The lower moderate section is about 1 mile long and ends at or just downstream of Boyden Cave. It is class 4 at reasonable flows but quite continuous. Put-in below the obvious monster rapids.

There is also a 3 mile moderate section from the park boundary to the Grizzley Falls picnic area. (Grizzley Falls is on a side creek) Depending on flow, the bigger rapids in this section are class 4 to class 5.

Put-in: Drive along the river till you see the park boundary sign. Park next to it but downhill and carry boats through the woods to the river. The Park boundary rapid is a wonderful, long, steep slalom, so it is nice to boat all of it.

Take-out below Grizzley Creek where the river comes back to the road, but upstream of a big cascade.

Much of the difficult section between Grizzley Creek and Boyden has been boated at one time or another, and there are many very interesting drops. However, there are many really ugly (from a boating perspective) cascades throughout the section. If you like to run one monster drop after another, but with easy roadside scouting, this could be your place.

Paul Martzen


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2014-06-20 23:13:02


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Park BoundaryIVPhoto
2.8Ledge DropIVPhoto
3.0Grizzly Falls Picnic RapidIV
3.2Upper Take OutN/AAccess
3.3Phil's CascadeVPhoto
6.8Put in below Last CascadeVHazard
7.2Boulder Creek RapidIV
8.0Boyden SlalomIVPhoto
8.2Marble RapidIVPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Park Boundary (Class IV)


Photo of Trevor Haagenson by Paul Martzen taken 08/14/06 @ low, 300 cfs

This rapid is a long, very busy slalom.   There is a bit of a pool close to the actual boundary line, so you don't have to launch in the middle of the rapid. 

Ledge Drop (Class IV, Mile 2.8)

Ledge drop

Ledge drop
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 08/16/11 @ 750 cfs

The ledge is distinctly visible as you drive up the road and it is not difficult.  We ran it center or center right.  A left side drop looked to have pin potential.  The lead in to the ledge is more difficult.  Start from an eddy on the left, run the lead in and eddy out on the right above the ledge.

The run out below the ledge does not let up.  Run it generally down the right.  Scout from the road.

Grizzly Falls Picnic Rapid (Class IV, Mile 3.0)

I think this is an awesome rapid.  You could just park at the picnic area, run this rapid over and over and have a great day!  It is long, busy and gets steadily tighter as you go.  Use the eddies and make good decisions about which slots to take.

Upper Take Out (Class N/A, Mile 3.2)

You can access the river at almost any location along this section, but this turn out works pretty well if you want to take out before the really big drops start.

Run a last rapid to the left, past a huge boxy boulder.  Eddy out in the pool and take out behind the boulder.  A short trail leads up to the road.

Phil's Cascade (Class V, Mile 3.3)

Phil's cascade

Phil's cascade
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 08/16/11 @ 750 cfs

This obvious cascade below the Grizzly Falls Picnic Area marks the start of the middle section of big drops.  Phil Martin ran it in some pointy boat back in the early 1990's but it was not encouraging to the rest of us. With todays boats and boaters it may seem of only moderate  class 5 difficulty, but it has plenty of sieves and siphons, so don't get careless.  Or maybe it still looks class 5+ even these days.

Put in below Last Cascade (Class V, Mile 6.8)

As you drive upstream from Boyden Cave, you will see class 3 and 4 whitewater till you see the Last Cascade.  The change in difficulty will by obvious.  If you are looking for the Big Stuff, you have arrived.  Keep driving and enjoy. if you are looking for class 4 whitewater, turn around and park just below the cascade.  You will have to hunt around a bit to figure out the easiest launching spot. 

Boulder Creek Rapid (Class IV, Mile 7.2)

This is one of the more congested of the rapids in this section.  It probably shifts around from year to year, but the cleanest lines are usually on the outside river left.  The main river spreads out and drops over a debri fan from the creek.

Boyden Slalom (Class IV, Mile 8.0)

Boyden Cave Rapid

Boyden Cave Rapid
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 08/16/11 @ 750 cfs

A good rapid to show off in for the tourists at Boyden Cave.

Marble Rapid (Class IV, Mile 8.2)

Marble Rapid

Marble Rapid
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 08/16/11 @ 750 cfs

This is the last rapid before the river drops away from the highway.  Pass under the highway bridge and a large white and black marble boulder marks the entrance to the rapid. There is a big turnout at the upstream end of the rapid, next to the bridge, so it is easy to scout.  The marble walls and marble boulders in the rapid make it very pretty.

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