Stanislaus, Middle Fork, California, US
4. Sand Bar Flat Dam to Camp 9 Powerhouse
||IV-V+ (for normal flows)
Boatable flows only occur in this reach during spring high flows when the capacity of the
diversion is exceeded.
This section of river is solid class V/V+ with pushy water, big hydraulics, small eddies sieves
Be cautious because the dam operators can change the flow quickly and unpredictably either higher
Begin by paddling across the pool above the Sandbar Diversion Dam. Portage around the dam
on river right and continue portaging down until your group feels comfortable putting on.
The river starts with a bag and is very continuous so make sure you are ready or trouble could
occur at the start.
The upper part of the run is also choked full of living trees, some in the middle of the river
providing another hazard in some spots. The live trees clean up as you go down river until
they disappear. If you can not see the bottom of a drop or the next eddy get out and
scout. Some drops lead quickly into portages. All portages can be done at river level
varying from river left to right but the majority are on river left.
After a few portages, the middle section (Below Mt Knight) of the river tones down a small bit
and cleans up to create some nice rapids. It then gets hard again before reaching the Camp
9 Powerhouse so don't drop your guard and blunder into something.
Consider this a solid step harder but with similar characteristics to Cherry Proper (Tuolumne)
The Holbeck and Stanley book (A Guide to the best whitewater in the state of California) divide
the reach into two distinct sections. From Sand Bar Dam to a trail below Mt Knight (6
miles) and then from Mt. Knight tail to the Camp 9 Powerhouse (8 miles). This trail is
shown on topo maps but has not been maintained and is NOT in existence any more. Even if it
was, it would be a steep 2200 vertical feet elevation up or down in 1.2 miles. They also
list the lower section as the harder section and most boaters agree that the upper section is the
more difficult section. The recommendation is to do all 14 miles and if you don't have
some with you who has done it before consider doing an overnighter.
Put in elevation is about 2680 feet.
Elevation at Mt. Knight trail is about 1,800 feet.
Take out elevation is about 1090 feet.
Total drop is about 1590 feet for an average gradient over 14 miles of 113 feet per mile.
From the Mt. Knight trail to the Camp 9 powerhouse is 8 miles and class -5 at flows below 2000
Other Information Sources:
A GUIDE TO THE BEST WHITEWATER IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, HOLBEK & STANLEY, 1988
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Last Updated: 2018-06-18 15:57:07