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Difficulty II
Length 16 Miles
Gauge Stony Creek Inflow Black Butte Res
Flow Range 500 - 4000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 5 years ago 3500 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 01/26/2010 12:34 am

River Description

From near Elk Creek to Grindstone Creek is about 5 miles of nice boating which could have an easy shuttle since the road follows the river.   However, all access points along the road from Elk Creek to and around Grindstone Creek appear to be closed to the public.  Boaters must continue on below Grindstone Creek to Army Corp property at Black Butte Reservoir.   This requires a long shuttle as described below by Harry Dundore in 2010.


Harry's description:
I scouted Stony Creek from Stony Gorge Res to Black Butte Res yesterday. I haven’t been back in 15 years and the shuttle has changed drastically. There are closed roads, lots of wire, and lots of very clearly worded signs everywhere. I was able to find good legal put-in and take-out spots but there’s nothing between. The shuttle is now about three times longer, so don’t plan on doing two runs in one day unless you get a real early start. The Shuttle:

To Take-Out:
From Orland - Hwy 32 - Left on CR206 (your marker is the first hill on the road, a small cemetery on the right) - Sign reads “Orland Buttes” and “Grizzly Flat” - follow signs to Grizzly Flat. The road crosses from the east side of the reservoir to the west side over Stony Creek at little Grizzley Flat bridge that's wired like WW I. 1.7 miles past the bridge you’ll find a parking loop on the right with one large lone oak tree and a gap in the fence. This is Army Corps land. A good, flat trail leads about 200 yards to take out. Be sure to take some flagging to mark take-out, everything looks the same down there. Be sure to boat river left after you pass under the bridge or you will have an island between you and take-out.

An alternate take-out would be 1 more mile (or so) of creek and 4 miles of flatwater to Orland Buttes Campground. The CG is closed until April 1st. But you can take out at the nearby free access site. Don’t attempt this unless the lake level is above 450’. It will be very slick and muddy until the lake reaches about 456’. The big flooded willow groves in the delta are very cool to paddle through and absolutely teeming with wildlife in winter and spring. I confess, sometimes I go up there just to paddle this out and back run.

To Put-In:
From Take-Out - backtrack to Hwy 32. Turn left (west), go about 15 miles. Left on CR306 (sign for Elk Creek) go about 12 miles. There will be two bridges. Park at the first bridge (the old, closed one) and walk the boats down the bank about 50 yards. It’s easier to see the trail if you scout it from the new bridge. Sweet put-in with gravel beach and an eddy. At bigger flows there’s a cool (albeit not big) staircase run just upstream you can walk a few times if you want. If you get to the village of Elk Creek, you’ve gone 1 mile too far but have an opportunity to buy more beer.

We can thank Lost River Ranch for closing their portion of old CR200A for this convoluted shuttle. NOTE: The road from Grindstone Rancheria, around Julian Rocks to just above the Grizzly Flat Bridge is CLOSED!!!

ALSO, in this day and age, don’t even think about launching at Stony Gorge Dam.

The usual. Beware of channels that take you into willow bush hell. WEAR GLOVES. At 1400 CFS it looked a little washed out, might be more fun at lower flows. Watch for strainers. I did not see a lot of wood hazards from the road. Like Cache Creek, there are beds of resistant rock that face upstream, so keep your eyes peeled and wear a helmet. Choosing the right braid can make life a whole lot easier, so pay attention and try to find the summer channel.

BEAVER DAM: What’s worse than a dam??? A dam with pongee stakes!!! About three miles into the run look for a piece of flatwater that bends hard right. Beaver dam across more than half the river. Approach running river left and look for a tongue left of center. Scout from road. I’d hate to see what that’d do to an IK (or a person!!!). There’s a real good chance this isn’t the only one.



Other Information Sources:  

The Grindstone Rancheria of Wintun-Wailaki Indians owns the land around Grindstone Creek.

Grindstone Indian Rancheria of Wintun-Wailaki
Post Office Box 63
Elk Creek, CA 95939
Phone: (530) 968-5365


Daryl E. Burrows, Chairman
Grindstone Rancheria
P.O. Box 63
Elk Creek, CA 95939
P: 530/968-5365
F: 530/968-5366

Rapid Descriptions

Grindstone Creek

Class - N/A Mile - 5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This was an access option in the past, but Harry reports that it does not look legal or safe to park here in 2010.


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Dana Hays
1 year ago

The shuttle info on this run is incorrect as of Nov 2018. The 5 mi. run down to Grindstone Creek currently has an easy take out that is right where the Stony meets Grindstone. Look at Google maps sat. view and you'll see it clearly. Big pull out and recently cleared trail down to Stony. no signs. Run looks pleasant, I suppose.

Gage Descriptions

Actual flows should be close to that reported by the Inflow to Black Butte Reservoir gauge.  The boatable range given on the gage graph is a first guess.   The streambed looks like it can handle huge flows.  Peak flows of over 20,000 and 25,000 cfs were reached during heavy rain periods in Jan 2010. In December 2005 a 24 hour average flow of 35,500 was recorded.  Peak flow could have been twice that amount. 

Below Grindstone Creek the stream bed gets very wide. The stream meanders and braids through wide gravel bars.    Might be fun with semi high flows of 10,000 or so if your are a strong boater.   The difficulty will be increased.  


CDEC Black Butte Reservoir; elevation, inflows and outflows.
USGS schematic of Stony Creek and other Sacramento River triburtaries.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




Paul Martzen


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1197161 01/25/10 Paul Martzen
1197166 01/26/10 Paul Martzen
1190100 02/09/02 n/a n/a