This photo needs editing.
Difficulty IV-V
Length 19 Miles
Gauge SALMON R A SOMES BAR CA
Flow Range 1000 - 4000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 245 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/02/2014 5:05 pm

River Description


The California Salmon River has something for everyone. This gorgeous Northern Cal River has Coastal Range waters driven by onshore Pacific Maritime airmasses met with steep geography.

Although the entire run is 19 miles, the two most popular sections - which can be linked - are Nordheimer Campground to Butler Creek (Class IV-V 6.4 miles),

and Butler Creek to Brannons Bar (Class IV 3.7 miles).

For the complete run, drive up-stream of Nordheimer campground and put-in just as you enter aptly named town Forks of Salmon and boat the class II from here to Nordheimer. (4.3 miles).

If you haven't had enough when you reach Brannons Bar, continue down-stream to Oak Bottom Campground (1.5 miles Class I-II), or beyond to the Klamath River (4.5 miles) and run the Ikes (.75 miles beyond the confluence Class IV).

Class III, IV, or V sections can be found on the Forks of the Salmon River.

Great camping is available at Nordheimer Campground. Both individual and group sites are available. For more information go to the Forest Service web site or call Six Rivers National Forest (707) 442-1721

For directions to the Salmon River see the Directions tab, multiple routes exists which follow roads of varying size and quality. Use GPS's carefully as they can be misleading.

For more information see the Cal Salmon description on Jason Rackley's Oregon Kayaking site.

Freight Train photo above courtesy of All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting

Print Guides:

Holbeck & Stanley The Best Whitewater in California

Cassaday & Callhoun California Whitewater

Rapid Descriptions

Nordheimer Creek

Class - N/A Mile - 4.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Campground, put-in and take-out.

Bloomer Falls

Class - IV Mile - 5

At high flows this becomes one of the crux rapids.
Photo courtesy of All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting

Lewis Creek Falls

Class - III+ Mile - 6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Lewis Creek enters on the left.
From above this rapid looks similar to Airplane Turn.

Morehouse Creek

Class - N/A Mile - 6.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Waterfall enters on the right.

Airplane Turn

Class - IV Mile - 6.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A tree is blocking the center channel. The river right channel is raftable at + or - 2000cfs. At high flows the river left channel opens up enough for a raft.

Cascade

Class - V Mile - 8.5

Steep rapid with multiple lines, scout left.
Photo courtesy of All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting

Achilles Heel

Class - IV+ Mile - 8.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Beware of the seam that forms in the bottom reversal of this rapid. 

Last Chance

Class - IV Mile - 10.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Formerly more difficult - this rapid is still high consequence because it is so close to Freight Train. scout right

Freight Train

Class - V Mile - 10.3

Trail around rapid on right. You can scout this rapid from the road.

Butler Ledge

Class - IV Mile - 10.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

If the flow is above 1800 cfs this rapid can be avoided by taking a small side channel on river left around a gravel bar island.
Use this channel if you are taking out at Butler Creek river access.

Gaping Maw

Class - IV Mile - 13.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Stay Right

Wooley Creek

Class - N/A Mile - 14.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Wooley enters river right downstream of a green bridge, as the Salmon bends to the left.

Brannons Bar

Class - N/A Mile - 14.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Take-out on right, down-stream of the bridge.

Oak Bottom Campground

Class - N/A Mile - 16
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Alternate take-out or put-in. Oak Bottom playhole at various levels.

Comments

Gage Descriptions

Can be run at lower levels (down to about 700 cfs) and much higher if you have huevos.

Permits

NA

Directions Description


The California Salmon is located in the beautiful and isolated coastal mountains of California. Cell Phone service is mostly non-existent and GPS can be misleading.

From Sacramento, CA Take I-5 North to Redding, CA, and as you approach Redding asses how adventurous you feel. If you decide that the adventure should be left for the river, or if you are towing a trailer/driving an oversized vehicle then take Exit 678 and merge onto CA-44 West. Take this to its end (about 2.3 miles) and follow the signs for CA-299 West. Wind through the mountains for about 90 miles on Highway 299, and then, in the town of Willow Creek, turn right onto Highway 96 and Follow it north for 45 miles. Turn Right off of route 96 immediately after it crosses the Salmon River onto Salmon River Road. Salmon River Road parallels the river; drive past Oak-Bottom Campground, Brannons Bar, and Butler Creek (alternate put-ins/take-outs). The road becomes a single lane and Nordheimer campground will be on the left about 13 miles from Highway 96.

(Approximately 6.5 hours)

 

Alternately, if as you approach Redding you decide that any time is a good time for an adventure then continue on I-5 north to Yreka, CA and follow the route below.

 

From Yreka, CA take the exit for CA Route 3, Fort Jones, Etna. Make two left turns to get on Route 3 and follow it south to Etna. In Etna turn right onto Sawyers Bar Rd/Main Street. Follow this road for about 44 miles to Nordheimer Campground (This is a single lane road; it takes about an hour and 45 min to reach the campground from Etna. The Pavement is good but the road has some significant drop-offs and no guard rails. Please drive carefully.)

(Approximately 2.5 hours)

Note: On a nice day with a good, reliable car I recommend either the Redding/Willow Creek Route or the Yreka Route. From Sacramento they take about the same amount of time.

 

From the Bay Area take I-80 East to 505 North to join the route above, or take Highway 101 through the towns of Eureka and Arcata (about 280 miles). Take the exit for Highway 299 towards Weaverville/Redding. Follow 299 East for 37 miles to the town of Willow Creek. In Willow Creek turn left onto CA Route 96 and follow it north for 45 miles. Turn Right off of route 96 immediately after it crosses the Salmon River onto Salmon River Road. Salmon River Road parallels the river; drive past Oak-Bottom Campground, Brannons Bar, and Butler Creek (alternate put-ins/take-outs). The road becomes a single lane and Nordheimer campground will be on the left about 13 miles from Highway 96.

(Approximately 7.5 hours)

Date Flow Result Factor  
1982-03-15 Medium Fatality Other Read More

Alerts

News

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Matthew Henry

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Scott Harding

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Craig Irwin

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1202024 04/30/13 Matthew Henry New Photos
1190073 11/08/05 Scott Harding n/a
1202964 01/02/14 Craig Irwin 20140102
1201990 04/29/13 Matthew Henry
1202021 04/29/13 Matthew Henry
1202022 04/30/13 Matthew Henry