The Pit 5 reach offers both a class III run and a Class IV run. The run has a remote wilderness appeal, with few roads and only a few structures along the way. The Class IV run begins just below at the newly constructed Madesi put-in below the Pit 5 Dam. The first rapid below the put-in is very brushy. This rapid can be avoided by putting in below. Shortly below this rapid is the one Class V rapid on the run. It is a chunky boulder strewn affair, with a partial portage option is available on river left. From this point down to Big Bend is fairly continuous class III /IV. Be aware, that there are several braided sections where picking the correct braid is important. If you do not wish to paddle the class III section, you can take out at the bridge in Big Bend. The best take-out is just below the bridge on river right.
The Class III section begins at the bridge in Big Bend. This is a nice class III section that can be run at the 400 cfs base flows. The first rapid below the Big Bend Bridge called "Bad Alder" can be tricky,and is a mainly because of vegetation encroachment. Shortly below this rapid there are several hot springs, all on river left. Take out is just above the Pit 5 powerhouse.
As part of the new licnese that American Whitewater helped to negotiate, releases will be occurring in August and September on the Pit 5 . Realtime flow information is now available on the American Whitewater Website. Also look to the release calendar on this page for scheduled flow releases. Look to the release calendar page for release information in California and across the Country.
To reach the Pit 5 take-out (Lower Run), take Hwy 299 East from Redding. About 4 miles past the small town of Montgomery Creek turn left on Big Bend Road. After Traveling 14 miles on Big Bend road you will turn left on Pit 5 Powerhouse road. Continue down this road 4.3 miles. Just past the bridge you will see a river access sign. The take out is across the river from the James B. Black powerhouse. There is a large parking area and bathroom at the takeout.
To reach the put-in, travel back out to Big Bend Road. Take a left and Travel to the Town of Big Bend if you wish to do the lower class III section of the Pit 5 reach. The put-in is on river right, just downstream of the bridge in Big Bend. To reach the put-in for the Class IV section take a right just before you reach Big Bend on Hagen Flat Road. Continue on this road for 2.8 miles until you see a sign for the Madesi River Access. Down this road a short distance you will find the river access, bathrooms and camping.
There is a store in Big Bend for fresh ice and anything else that you might have forgotten. They also may have information on shuttle drivers.
Other Information Sources:Pit-5, Upper Awetstate guidePit-5, Lower Awetstate guide
SIERRA WHITEWATER, MARTIN, 1974
This rapid is right below the put-in. Braided and full of vegitation. The middle channel seems best, but this could change.
Chunky Boulder strewn rapid. Runnable at higher flows. It can be difficult to scout.
A natural river wide dam
River Wide Playspot
Braided at the top. Long Class III +
The river has class 5 upstream of this access point, but is only class 3 below this bridge.
This is a long Class III immediately below Big Bend. This rapid is compicated by the fact that much of the water pushes into the overhanging vegitation on the right bank.
Long Class III, Hot Springs are at the bottom of this rapid on the left. The river braids at the top of this rapid. The left channel is generally the best.
Long Class III
This rapid is below where Kosk Creek comes in on the right. One of the prettiest parts of the river.
Look to the AW release calendar to the right on this page for schedules of flow releases. Look to the release calendar page for release information in California and across the Country.
Realtime flow information is also available at CDEC Pit River at Big Bend
Historical data for this reach is available at the USGS page for this gauge #11363000. Gauge site information
This USGS Pit/McCloud Schematic.pdf shows dams, diversions, reservoirs and gauges.
LOCATION.--Lat 41°01'10", long 121°54'36" referenced to North American Datum of 1927, in NW ¼ SW ¼ sec.31, T.37 N., R.1 E., Shasta County, CA, Hydrologic Unit 18020003, on left bank at Big Bend, 0.4 mi downstream from Nelson Creek, 1.5 mi upstream from Kosk Creek, and 3.1 mi downstream from Pit No. 5 Dam.
DRAINAGE AREA.--4,711 mi2, excluding Goose Lake Basin.
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.
Blackberry Death Chute
Madesi Boat Ramp
Upper Hot Springs
Bottom of Bad Alder
Non Stop Class IV
Chris Shackleton Surfs it up at Spin City
Run out on Sneak Peek
Kosk Creek Rapid
Pit 5 Class V
Pit 5 Hot Springs
Lower Pit 5
Upper Pit 5 Rapid
Rapid above Big Bend Bridge
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American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
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Here are the 2019 scheduled recreational releases for hydropower projects American Whitewater negotiated across California.
Photo by Barry Kruse - Pit 1
American Whitewater continues to play an important role in negotiating and implementing the recreational flows provided by hydropower licenses throughout California. Here are some of the scheduled recreational releases for 2018. Enjoy!
As part of the new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, PG&E released flows for paddlers for the first time this past weekend. Elite padder Macy Burnham had this to say about the run, "Cali has many amazing class III and Class IV rivers that are accessible to your average kayaker; unfortunately, it does not have many solid class IV rivers. The Pit 5 stretch from Madesi to Big Bend Bridge definitely fills that void. It is a great little stretch of whitewater."
Middle Fork American, Pit River, Tuolumne flow updates
Several utilities periodically report flows to us for river segments that do not have online gauges. They sometimes make estimates of upcoming flows based on predicted weather conditions. We will try to update that information to this news article when we receive the new information.
Middle Fork American RiverBlw French Meadows: 220 cfsDuncan Creek blw Diversion: 165Abv Middle Fork Interbay: 500 cfsBlw Middle Fork Interbay: 525 cfs (estimate) Abv Ralston Afterbay: 600 cfsRubicon RiverHell Hole Elevation: 4631.68 ftEllicotts: 1610 cfsAbv Ralston Afterbay: 1990 cfsNorth Fork of the Middle Fork American: 540 cfs
Summary and collection of PG&E and AW resources and the latest in flow data for the website.
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