Pit - 3) Pit River Campground to Highway 299

Pit, California, US


3) Pit River Campground to Highway 299 (Pit#1Powerhouse run)

Usual Difficulty II (for normal flows)
Length 3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 28 fpm

5th rapid

5th rapid
Photo of Bill Cross in canoe by Paul Martzen taken 10/02/11 @ 850 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-11355010 600 - 5000 cfs II 00h19m 1330 cfs (running)

River Description

This river section has terrain that is like eastern Oregon desert with a basalt riverbed. Long class 2 rapids are spread evenly through the distance.  Pools allow plenty of sight seeing time or fishing without being overly long. The section is suitable for experienced canoists and beginning kayakers with moving water experience. The section is particularly popular with fishermen in rafts or drift boats. 

Because flows are returned to the river at the powerhouse you can boat this section most of the year. If you are continuing down on a trip that started up above the powerhouse you will find that the gradient eases but in the final few miles to the take-out, the observant paddler can find several nice surfing waves. This section provides a nice class II run and offers whitewater boating fun for the whole family with some waves and play holes.

Take out: 
There is a convenient river access and parking on the downstream, east side of the Highway 299 bridge. The turn off is narrow and unmarked.  It is about 100 yards past the end of the bridge on the left as you drive east, towards the put in. The gravel road leads away from the main road for 100 yards then turns back to a turn around next to the bridge. The take out ramp is mostly underneath the bridge.  The water seems deepest on the downstream side of the bridge (at 800 cfs). Elevation above sea level is about 2764 feet.

Paddlers could also continue down a short ways further into Lake Britton, but there does not appear to be any easy take out access.  There are gravel roads providing access to the lake but not anywhere near the river entrance.

Put in:  Continue east on 299E to the turn off for the Pit #1 powerhouse. Drive 1.4 miles down to the Pit River Campground. There is a boat ramp in the day use area that is open from 7 AM to dusk.  Elevation is about 2850 feet above sea level.

Pit River Campground has 8 regular sites and one group site. Regular sites are $8 per night. The campground host is very helpful.   There are 2 pit toilets. There is no water supplied at the campground, so bring plenty. There is a clear spring a few hundred yards downstream at a Lions Club picnic area. 

Three Leaf Sumac (Rhus trilobata) grows thick around the campsites.  It has edible berries and the stems are often used for basket making.  It looks similar to Poison Oak as they are both in the sumac family.  Some Poison-oak does grow in the area so try to see the difference. 

There is no shortage of gas stations, groceries, restaurants and such in the area.  Fall River Mills has a gas station, large grocery store, several resteraunts, single screen movie theater, auto parts store and other amenities.   Nearby Burney has several reasonably priced gas stations, a Safeway market, auto repair shops, etc.. 

Other Information Sources: 
Pit River Alliance
Clearwater Lodge

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-11-08 15:46:23

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-0.4Powerhouse InflowN/APhoto
0.0Put In LagoonN/APutin Access
0.1Campground RapidIPhoto
0.3Lions ClubIAccess
0.5Spring confluenceIIPhoto
1.4Shady RapidIPhoto
2.9Approaching 299 BridgeIPhoto
3.0Take OutN/ATakeout Access Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Powerhouse Inflow (Class N/A, Mile -0.4)

Pit#1 Powerhouse

Pit#1 Powerhouse
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 10/02/11 @ 850 cfs

The powerhouse typically releases high flows during the day, year round.  At night the powerhouse shuts off, leaving a base flow in the river of around 500 cfs.

Put In Lagoon (Class N/A)

There is a boat ramp in the day use area at the downstream end of the campground.   The ramp accomodates trailers unloading rafts and drift boats for fishing float trips.  

The ramp is in a small protected lagoon.  From the lagoon, boaters float past a small fishing area and out into the lower half of campground rapid.

Campground Rapid (Class I, Mile 0.1)

Morning Mist

Morning Mist
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 10/02/11 @ 850 cfs

The put in is below the steepest half of this rapid, but the lower half is still a nice drop with fun waves.  

Lions Club (Class I, Mile 0.3)

A Lions Club Picnic area is hidden in the trees on river right at the start of this rapid.   A small spring also enters the river from the picnic area.  The rapid is long and straight with the biggest drop at the very end.  A distinct basalt cliff looms over the end where the river turns left.

Boaters could take out or put in at the picnic area, since there is road access close to the river.

Spring confluence (Class II, Mile 0.5)

Spring Rapid

Spring Rapid
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 10/02/11 @ 850 cfs

Water from a spring enters the river on the right at the bottom of Lion's Club rapid, just before a basalt cliff.  It is easy to miss the spring from the river, but you can hike down to it from the campground.

Rapid (Class I, Mile 1.0)

5th rapid

5th rapid
Photo of Bill Cross in canoe by Paul Martzen taken 10/02/11 @ 850 cfs

One of many easy but busy rapids in this reach.

Shady Rapid (Class I, Mile 1.4)

Shady rapid

Shady rapid
Photo of Wanda Center by Paul Martzen taken 10/02/11 @ 850 cfs

The river pushes up against the right bank and forms waves underneath these trees.  We managed to get a bit of surfing on the waves.

Approaching 299 Bridge (Class I, Mile 2.9)

Approaching Highway 299 bridge

Approaching Highway 299 bridge
Photo of Megan Hooker by Paul Martzen taken 10/02/11 @ 850 cfs

A wide left turn with multiple channels past islands, leads to a right turn and this view of the bridge.

Take Out (Class N/A, Mile 3.0)

Take Out at 299

Take Out at 299
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 10/02/11 @ 850 cfs

Pull out under the river right side of the bridge.  A bridge support with entertaining graffiti blocks the take out and I found the water deeper on the downstream side (at 800 cfs).  A gravel road / boat ramp comes right to the water.  

This take out is regularly used by fishermen using rafts and maybe dories.   There is plenty of parking and a big turn around circle.

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