Yuba, N. Fork - A) Wild Plum Campground to Downieville

Yuba, N. Fork, California, US


A) Wild Plum Campground to Downieville (Sierra City Run)

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 13 Miles
Avg. Gradient 108 fpm
Max Gradient 120 fpm

Loves Falls first drop

Loves Falls first drop
Photo of Pete Giordano by Gabe Flock taken 05/15/03

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-11413000 250 - 2500 cfs IV-V 01h08m 307 cfs (running)

River Description

The Sierra City run.

Wild Plum canyon is one of the uppermost regions within the North Fork Yuba River.

The only creeking above this point is 40 degree gradient on mixture of sharp granite substrates that few salmon can make it past.

We dubb this the Sierra City run.
Sikbird note: This run can be notched up considerably by adding the Love Falls section above the Pacific Crest Trail bridge.

Seasonal rain and snow events frequently bump this run up quickly.

This run offers clear and cold water, beautiful and challenging rapids in steep gradient with real consequences for the uninitiated.

Reference: "California Whitewater, Third Edition" Jim Cassady & Fryar Calhoun


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-09-24 17:03:09


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Loves Falls5.0Putin Waterfall Photo
2.9Gillespie DamIVPortage Hazard
5.1Highway RapidIVAccess
6.5Ladies Canyon Rapid5.0Waterfall
7.0Union Flat CampgroundIIIAccess
9.1Moss Canyon5.0Waterfall
9.2Boss Moss5.0Waterfall
9.3Floss MossIVWaterfall
12.9Downie CreekIIITakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Travel HWY 49 North East from Downieville for 12 miles to Sierra City. Continue uphill through Sierra City and turn right following signs to Wild Plum Campground. Put-in is available at first bridge crossing 1/2 mile from HWY 49.

Loves Falls (Class 5.0)

Loves Falls above Wild Plum

Loves Falls above Wild Plum
Photo of Loves Falls North Fork Yuba River by Craig Irwin taken April 2000 @ low

Loves Falls are a series of pool-drop cascades that vary considerably with volume. This area is just below Salmon Creek coming down from the Sierra Buttes.

Whorehouse (Class IV, Mile 2.4)
This rapid begins with a quick shelf that slides river right up against an undercut wall. Different levels can make this rapid a portage for some boaters.

Gillespie Dam (Class IV, Mile 2.9)
this dam should be scouted the hole can get retentive and the dam debris downstream is a hazard

Highway Rapid (Class IV, Mile 5.1)
the first view of HWY49 from the creek

Ladies Canyon Rapid (Class 5.0, Mile 6.5)
Scout this rapid from the road on the way up. Or, scout river left. Caution: higher flows cause Ladies Canyon hole to be riverwide. This is a hole that you want to be upright after hitting because you are headed directly into action.

Union Flat Campground (Class III, Mile 7.0)
This campground is typically used by rafters running commercial trips.

Moss Canyon (Class 5.0, Mile 9.1)
Moss Canyon is away from the road and becomes a section of this run not to forget at high water. This beautiful, tight canyon packs rapids with big holes behind big rocks. Lots of twisting rapids with momentum-stopper holes.

Boss Moss (Class 5.0, Mile 9.2)
The big daddy hole in Moss Canyon

Floss Moss (Class IV, Mile 9.3)
One of several good rapids with constrictions and stomper holes that finish off the Moss Canyon.

Shangri-La (Class III, Mile 10.5)
The river bends from right to left, Jim Crow Creek enters river left, the Shangri-La resort has stone walls at the river and a bridge crossing the North Fork Yuba.

Downie Creek (Class III, Mile 12.9)
When you see Downie Creek enter river right, you are in Downieville. Cross under the first bridge and takeout river right.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 17 2004 (5203 days ago)
Craig IrwinDetails
Wild Plum to Downieville has a high alpine start, drops swiftly into tight rapids, blind sweeping
class IV/V with a lead into the green moss covered rocky canyon reaches above Moss Canyon. Once
into the steep and fast Moss Canyon you will meet up with Boss Moss, Floss Moss and Lower Moss
Rapids, when they conclude you might wash up in Downieville.
This run is frequently underestimated at high water, where its a screaming run.
Rosassco Canyon lies below the confluence of the North Fork Yuba and the Downie River in