Difficulty IV-V
Length Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 02/28/2020 2:33 am

River Description


Wooley Creek is for those willing to hike in to one of the most beautiful and remote streams to be paddled in California. Draining the southern heart of the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area, Wooley Creek flows through a granitic pluton with countless mini-gorges, round boulders, boofs, blind drops, and pristine scenery.

The Wooley Creek Trailhead is along Salmon River Road, about four miles upriver of Somes Bar and Highway 96. This is where your Wooley Creek adventure begins...on foot. The take-out is at Brannon Bar River Access on the Salmon River, about 1/2 mile downstream of Wooley Creek's confluence. The trailhead and river access share a common parking area, making logistics easy...even if you do have to hike in. 

Except for the initial sweat-inducing climb on the Wooley Creek Trail right out of the parking lot, the 6.5-mile hike isn't too bad and shouldn't be a deterrent for any keen adventurer. Be sure to use some kind of pack system to carry your kayak: it's a long way to shoulder a boat and dragging is not only bad for your kayak, it's a poor ethic to leave shave squiggles of plastic all along the trail. Rafters may want to consider hiring a local mule packer to get your gear in (this is how the first descent of Wooley Creek was done in 1984!).

It is possible to put in to Wooley Creek after about two miles of hiking from the trailhead. This sets up paddlers to run the grand finale of Wooley Creek, including the Fat Lady Sings, one of the largest rapids on the run. This put in is obvious; however, it is a short distance upstream from the first place that the trail dips close to the creek (put in at 41.396469, -123.411190).

After six miles of hiking from the trailhead, most boaters take the spur trail down from the Wooley Creek Trail to put in at Wooley Camp, an old haunt of President Hoover and friends. Be aware that this is private property and although the landowners and their on-site caretakers seem not to mind the occasional boater, you should act like a grateful guest. It is only the occassional group that chooses to hike further into Wooley Creek but there is a lot of whitewater upstream of Wooley Camp too.

An easier trail into Wooley?


For those of you who have done Wooley Cr you probably agree that its an awesome run you'd like to do more often. Doing Bridge Cr is more than my back can handle anymore and the normal trail is pretty long. (Doing Bridge means that you're going to be in a rush by the time you get down to Wooley Creek.) Several people (including myself) have tried to find the illusive trail marked on maps that drops in from above, and failed. I finally found it from the bottom. The fires from last summer cleaned it up a bit. It's just a very faint trough and looks as if no one has used it for about 10 years. If anyone else is into working on this, it could end up being the cush way to get into Wooley. I did a little work on it with a machete, clearing out the bottom third (maybe). It wouldn't take a lot more to do the top. The trouble is finding it. I noticed some pink and black striped flagging on it.
The trail is shown on the "Marble Mtn Wilderness and Russian Wilderness" topo that you can buy at Somes bar. It comes down the ridge that is just to the west and barely upstream from the main cabin at Wooley camp. You can find the start of it (from the bottom) by looking for a huge cut log just above the main trail above the cabin. It goes right up the whole ridge, staying near the nose of the ridge. I haven't looked for the top yet, but the map shows it with a trailhead off F.R. 12N48, going right by peak 4019.
* * If interested, bring: a machete, some flagging tape, the map, lots of water, some gloves and a GPS. I took a GPS reading at about the 1/3 up point. (I'll post it later if people are interested.) It should take a couple guys 2-4 hours to clean up the rest of it. Once cleaned up, you should end up with an awesome trail that is very smooth and easy to drag a kayak down. (extremely few rocks on the bottom section. Not sure about the top.) It looks to be about 2 mi and all downhill, as opposed to 5.5 of up and down coming into the main trail.
Never bother with the trail shown coming down off of Black Mtn. I waisted a lot of time up there last year, looking.   -Posted online by Dana691 at Boof.com .

keep going on the main road heading further north. Go 1 mile past Camp 3 and look for a right turn on the other end of the same road 12N48. (Take this way because its easier and there is a log across the road blocking the middle section.) Go about another 0.5 mi to a 3 way fork, and take the middle fork which heads steep uphill. (marked with a little pink flagging.) Follow that road (marked on the map as 'A') about 3/4 mile til it ends.
Look for some flagging heading south up the ridge following an old road. You're basically continuing in the same direction that the 'A' road is pointing you.
That upper section will need a lot of work, but it gets much better after it drops over the ridge into the Wooley drainage.  Just before you drop over the ridge and into the Wooley drainage stay alert for the pink flagging which will show a left turn at an indistinct junction. This junction occurs when you come out into an open area and it seems as if the old road is veering to the right. (Its not.) The ridge will be very obvious in front of you. This whole section needs a lot of work.
Once you get down onto the final ridge dropping into Wooley camp, the GPS waypoint I gave for 1/3 up is a good pointer to use. (Eventually it will be very obvious without having to use GPS. Just follow the flagging.)

Other Information Sources:

California Creeks - Wooley Creek

Jefferson State Creeking: Wooley Creek

Jefferson State Creeking: Bridge Creek - tributary of Wooley

Klamath Nat. Forest: Rivers & Whitewater Rafting

Salmon River Restoration Council

Summer Steelhead

 

 

 

Rapid Descriptions

Wooley Camp

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Gorge Drop In

Class - N/A Mile - 1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

this cascade quickly becomes a bigger drop

Comments

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Dana Hays
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1 year ago

The "easier trail" mentioned above should probably be deleted. A few years back a group from OR was dropped off at the end of the road, with the driver taking off before really checking things out. So there was no way out but down and no real trail at that point. Turned into an ugly fiasco. The trail is still a future possibility. I talked to various people about it. Someone from local firefighting unit thought it sounded like a viable trail for firefighting efforts and Steindorf agreed it sounded interesting for river access. BUT (and a big one) is that it would need concerted effort from various agencies to ever make it happen. After a fire that road access fell apart, so Forest Service would need to clear the road and approve the work. No chain saws in wilderness so people with big pull saws, etc. Would be awesome though!!

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Craig Irwin
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14 years ago

committing, remote, beautiful... Wooley creek makes confluence with the Cal-Salmon after a series of mini-gorges and miles of amazing California wilderness boating. Expect some bush-whacking for the winding uphill trail to put-in. (best done with pack mules)

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Directions Description


keep going on the main road heading further north. Go 1 mile past Camp 3 and look for a right turn on the other end of the same road 12N48. (Take this way because its easier and there is a log across the road blocking the middle section.) Go about another 0.5 mi to a 3 way fork, and take the middle fork which heads steep uphill. (marked with a little pink flagging.) Follow that road (marked on the map as 'A') about 3/4 mile til it ends. Look for some flagging heading south up the ridge following an old road. You're basically continuing in the same direction that the 'A' road is pointing you. That upper section will need a lot of work, but it gets much better after it drops over the ridge into the Wooley drainage. Just before you drop over the ridge and into the Wooley drainage, you need to stay alert for the pink flagging which will show a left turn at an indistinct junction. This junction occurs when you come out into an open area and it seems as if the old road is veering to the right. (Its not.) The ridge will be very obvious in front of you. This whole section needs a lot of work. Once you get down onto the final ridge dropping into Wooley camp, the GPS waypoint I gave for 1/3 up is a good pointer to use. (Eventually it will be very obvious without having to use GPS. Just follow the flagging.)

Posted by Dana691 at Boof.com forum.

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Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1204159 02/14/15 Craig Irwin cd2015
1214172 01/14/20 Scott Harding updated description
1190126 04/23/01 Scott Harding n/a
1197705 05/20/10 Paul Martzen Added new hiking description by Dana691
1214452 02/28/20 Scott Harding updated description
1214453 02/28/20 Scott Harding updated name
1214454 02/28/20 Scott Harding updated image position
1214455 02/28/20 Scott Harding updated description
1195303 06/03/09 Paul Martzen