Rubicon, California, US
Ellicott Bridge to Oxbow Reservoir (Ralston PH)
||V (for normal flows)
Common Portage #2
Common Portage #2Photo by Dave Steindorf taken 06/04/06 @ 800 cfs
The Rubicon is a World Class Overnight
Wilderness Run. It only runs in high water years when Hell Hole dam spills water (AW
currently in negotiations w/ PCWA Relicensing). This doesn’t happen often so
when it does, prioritize it -- it’s worth it. There is a bit of warm up but then the
action doesn’t stop until the take-out, 20 miles of wilderness later.
Miles upon miles of countless IV+/V multi-move
boulder gardens, interspersed with some quality bedrock. Most all of the rapids are long and
continuous but most can be boat scouted and do have decent recovery pools.
If you would be comfortable leading yourself
down 49-bridgeport on the S Yuba at or Middle Fork Feather for the very first time (No
one showing you the lines) at similar difficulty flows, you should like the Rubicon. It
is a notch easier than SF Merced.
Average gradient of 108 FPM, Max of 150 --
Surprisingly and pleasantly consistent.
A solid crew of class V boaters should budget ~6-8 hours of moving
time on the water.
Flows: (see guage description for great detail)
The Rubicon seldom has boatable flows because
there are several different reservoirs belonging to different projects that each take water out
of the Rubicon basin and send it to the SF or MF American rivers.
600-1000: V-. Optimum flows for V- boaters =
1000-1500: V. Optimum flows for V boaters
Note 1: Two significant tributaries (Pilot Creek
and Longs Creek) join the Rubicon ~4-5 miles upstream of the takeout and can significantly add to
flow in the early season.
Note 2: There is a stick gauge up stream of the
Elcotts bridge (Put-in). Find the obvious eddy from the dirt road on river right. 3.25 =
~350 cfs. 4.7 = ~950 cfs. Accretion will add to this flow (see note 1)
5 common portages. (all distances VERY
1. First island drop ~mi3 (class V sneak possible on the right)
2. Ledge hole and undercut right wall w/ class V lead in ~mi6
3. Slide hole 300m below
4. Ledge hole w/ Class V lead in ~mi8 (sneak possible on the right >900
5. Class V Boulder jumble ~mi8.5
6. Slide hole ~mi14.
2 other holes of note: These are runable
but claim their fair share of unsuspecting victims as they aren’t obvious
1. ~mi 2.5. ~1/4 mile below a rapid that was likely your first
scout. River narrows and bends to the left. Scout from small eddy on the left.
2. ~1/4 mile above the take out. You’ll see the diversion tube coming
down the hill. River bends to the left and there will be a flatish bedrock shoulder on the
Takeout: From highway 80 in Auburn, take
Auburn Ravine road to Foresthill road. After 17 miles turn onto Mosquito Ridge road and go
another 12 miles to Oxbow reservoir. Driving time could be nearly an hour.
total miles from Take-out paved the entire length. Continue past the take out on French
Meadows Road up steep switch backs. After ~14.5 miles from take out, take the only paved
Fork to the right (slightly down hill and quickly crosses Long Creek). After ~2 additional
miles, this road joins another major road (veer right). Continue ~10 miles to the
Other Information Sources:
Placer County Water Agency
Hell Hole Reservoir- Wikipedia
Hell Hole Dam Failure photos
Sacramento Municipal Utility District
FishSniffer article by Dan
Upper American River Foundation
American River Watershed Group
A GUIDE TO THE BEST WHITEWATER IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, HOLBEK & STANLEY, 1988
Hell Hole Dam is part of Placer County Water Agency's "Middle Fork American River Project,
FERC Project #2079. The FERC license for this project expires in 2013.
Project Relicensing Homepage
Draft Instream Flow Report
No permit needed.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-07-06 19:49:36