The Mokelumne from Salt Springs dam to Tiger Creek powerhouse is a very scenic section of river that is slowly getting greater recognition with scheduled releases and dependable flow information. The miles from Devil's Nose to Tiger Creek Powerhouse are compared to the most scenic runs in California.
From the dam past Calaveras Dome, the river is very steep and congested as it drops through a terminal morraine. Expect difficulty to be class 5 to class 6. We have no information on boaters paddling in this section or any specific details. From the campgrounds to the Bear River confluence there are a number of class 3 and 4 rapids and possibly a borderline class 5 rapid. From Bear River down to Devil's Nose, the run is mostly class 2 and 3 with a few class 4 rapids. Starting around Devils Nose the last few miles to the Tiger Creek powerhouse contain many class 5 rapids. Many of the rapids are long and will require scouting. Mokelumne Falls is a serious drop near the end with a committing rapid immediately upstream. The very last obstacle is a gauging weir that is an easy portage.
Scheduled boating releases occur on weekends in May of most years.
Getting There: The take out at Tiger Creek Powerhouse is about 20 miles or 30 minutes drive up Highway 88 from Jackson. Coming from Sacramento, drive about an hour up highway 16 to Highway 49 to Jackson. Take Highway 12 out of Lodi, or Highway 88 out of Stockton with similar distances and driving times. Turn down Tiger Creek Road to the powerhouse. The drive between the take out and put in is about 21 miles on Tiger Creek road, but will take about an hour. Alternatively you can drive back up to Highway 88, east to Ellis Road, then down Ellis Road to Tiger Creek Road. Ellis road is not plowed in winter.
Put In: Boaters will normally launch at a developed put in just upstream of Mokelumne Campground. Boaters can launch even further upstream since the road follows the river in this area. Near Calaveras dome the gradient is steep and very bouldery with rapids of class 5 or harder difficulty. Inspect the river carefully if you choose to launch higher than the normal put in.
Take Out: PG&E asks that boaters take out upstream of the powerhouse, on river right at a picnic area. There should be a sign facing upstream warning boaters to take out. From the picnic area it is a short level walk past the powerhouse, across the creek to the parking area. Park in designated recreation spots near the powerhouse.
Other information sources:NF Mokelume (Devil's nose, IV-V) Blog by CA49riversCa-Creeks NF Moke descriptionA Wet State, trip reportJohn Yost Trip Report part 1 in Ledger DispatchJohn Yost Trip Report part 2 in Ledger Dispatch
Cassady & Calhoun, Holbek & Stanley, Martin Foothill ConservancyEcoangler.comEl Dorado Nat. Forest
The entire upper Mokelumne Watershed PG&E hydroelectric system is under a single FERC license, number P-137 A new license was issued on October 11, 2001 and will expire in 30 years from that date.
Text of whitewater boating monitoring plan.
Portage right or run the very right edge. At high flows scout high on right from above previous rapid. Both rapids run together at high flows.
A low dam blocks the river. Portage on river right.
I just ran the devils nose at 600 and it is class V. Yes FIVE. And you cannot easily portage any except the last rapid.
Sign up to join the Sultan River (WA) working group and stay informed on issues related to improving flows through hydropower relicensing.
Runnable range is estimated to be 600-4000. However, flows above 2000 may be more serious than most want to contend with. Brasuell reports that flows in the 600 to 800 range are very low but still fun and mostly class 4ish. These flow numbers will be updated as we get more information.
Flows occur during winter and spring spills and during scheduled boating releases on weekends in May of most years.
Salt Springs Reservoir CDEC page. Daily storage graph Maximum storage is 141,900 ac-ft.
USGS basin Schematic pdf shows all the dams, diversions and gauging stations on the Mokelumne.
Some historical flow information is available for these locations:
NF Mokelumne below Salt Springs Res. USGS #113145
Bear River below Bear Diversion Dam. USGS #113161
Bear River below Lower Bear Reservoir. USGS #113159
Sierra Snow Pack Graphs provide an overview of regional snow pack. The Mokelumne is in the middle region.
Permits are not required for this reach.
The map displayed below directs people back up to Highway 88 which is at least paved. Expect driving time to be an hour or more.
Alternatively take Tiger Creek Road to Salt Springs Road which parallels the river. Driving time will still be about an hour, but the actual distance is shorter. See this goople map of Tiger Creek Powerhouse to Mokelumne River Campground.
Check with El Dorado Nat. Forest, Amador District for any road closures in the Salt Springs area.
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The California Natural Resources Agency recently released the draft Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic Study Report. Recognizing the river's extraordinary scenic and recreational resources, the agency recommends that 37 miles be added to the California Wild and Scenic River System. The agency wants to hear from you about their recommendations by March 8th, and will hold a public hearing about the draft report on Thursday, February 15th in Mokelumne Hill.
Mokelumne recreational releases, 2012
PG&E will be releasing recreational flows on 4 weekends into the Tiger Creek reach..
Summary and collection of PG&E and AW resources and the latest in flow data for the website.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!