Yuba, N. Fork - D) Bullards Bar Dam to Colgate Powerhouse

Yuba, N. Fork, California, US


D) Bullards Bar Dam to Colgate Powerhouse

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 8.18 Miles


Photo by Photo-Jared Noceti taken 10/29/12

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
No. Yuba Below New Bullards Bar
dream-059 500 - 1500 cfs V 4y61d09h06m 18 cfs (too low)
cdec-ORH 500 - 1500 cfs V 02h08m 43 cfs (too low)

River Description

This challanging reach is usually dewatered by the combination of New Bullards Bar Dam and the New Colgate Powerhouse.  

Note: this reach is NOT contiguous with the prior three sections of N.Fk.Yuba described within the AW river pages.

Put-in:  Bullards Bar Dam is about 40 miles from Yuba City, Marysville.  As of 2008, Yuba County Water Agency is claiming that boaters are not allowed to hike down the gated road to access the river near the base of the dam.   We believe the current license requires YCWA to provide access.  AW is asking FERC for clarification on this issue.

Take out:  Colgate Powerhouse provides the most convenient take out option. It is 11 miles from the dam and there is paved road the whole way.


Other Information Sources: 
2008 trip report at Jackson Kayaks, by Stephen Wright (Nov 2008)


FERC information: 
The powerhouse that dewaters this reach is subject to federal licensing by FERC.  The license is #2246, which expires in 2013.    The relicensing process takes many years, so boating studies for this reach are taking place as of 2008. 

American Whitewater is in the midst of participating in the Yuba River Development Project FERC #2246 relicensing which is working on a boating flow study for 2014. This year (2014) the licensee, Yuba County Water Agency, is collecting information for the reach from Highway 49 to Englebright Reservoir and the recent downpour from the river gods has given us the perfect opportunity to get the information needed. So putting the call out for folks to get on this Class V reach and give us your feedback:

Boater Evaluation Form Process
Information from the boater evaluation forms will help YCWA identify a flow preference curve for whitewater boating, which will identify minimum acceptable and optimum flows. The data collection requires 3 key steps: Step 1 - Boaters run a reach at a min. of 2 flows in the target range (3 flows preferred) for a craft. Step 2 - Following each run at a different flow, the boater will complete a 1-page, Post-Run Evaluation Form – either a hard copy version as distributed by AW or online (see link below). And, Step 3, once a boater has run a reach a min. of 2 flows in the target range for a craft type (3 flows preferred), then the boater will need to complete a final Comparative Evaluation Form that identifies the minimum acceptable flow and optimal flow range for the reach (hard copy or online). Note: the online link to the Comparative Evaluation Form will be provided once a boater has completed a min. of 2 flows.

Link to Online Evaluation Form: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HKV6TX9

Please review the flow level before and after each run to determine what the actual flow was that you boated before submitting the survey, if possible. At the very least, be sure to accurately record the date and times of your trip so that flows may be determined using the flow history.  Please take photos and upload them to the AW photo database.

Study Contacts
Dave Steindorf (American Whitewater): E: dave@americanwhitewater.org / P: (530) 518-2729
Rorie Gotham (Local Boater/Boating Team Coordinator): skyranch1@sbcglobal.net
Kevin McCombe (Tahoe National Forest): E: kmccombe@fs.fed.us / P: (530) 478-6150
Matt Paquette (HDR, YCWA’s consultant): E: mpaquette@hdrinc.com / P: (530) 587-3682


YCWA does not give permission for public to access the bottom of New Bullards Bar Dam on the YCWA access road.  This is a gated, private roadway.  YCWA further warns anyone on or around the river to take caution with regard to health and safety.   River flows may change suddenly and without warning.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-04-05 22:22:40

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put InN/APutin
2.3Middle Fork ConfluenceN/AAccess
8.2Colgate PowerhouseN/ATakeout
9.9Rice's Crossing AccessN/ATakeout Access

Rapid Descriptions

Put In (Class N/A)

The public is not allowed to walk down the easy road to the base of the dam, and there are no other developed access routes.  On the north side of the river the dam access road starts about .9 miles downstream and so blocks access to the river for this distance if one stays off it.  Just past this road some boaters have bushwacked about a thousand feet down a hillside from the  public road. 

On the south side of the river there appears to be a network of logging roads, some of which get close to the river.  Their condition and whether they are open to public vehicles is unclear. 

The hillside near the spillway looks potentially open and promising for a descent.  Rappels might be needed or helpful.

Middle Fork Confluence (Class N/A, Mile 2.3)

The middle fork Yuba adds additional water to the run.  See flows below Our House Dam.  A dirt road or trail leads uphill back to the top of New Bullards Bar Dam.  From this point down, the river description will be the same as for the Middle Fork Yuba from 49 to Englebright.

Colgate Powerhouse (Class N/A, Mile 8.2)

Colgate powerhouse is on river right.  Take out on the downstream side of the powerhouse on river right.  A paved road leads up to Marysville road in 4.4 miles.

Rice's Crossing Access (Class N/A, Mile 9.9)

This is the other potential take out.  On river left, a dirt Rice's Crossing road leads up to Bridgeport State Park. If boating down the NF from Bullards Bar Dam, this is a much longer and less convenient take out. 

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
January 17 2009 (3654 days ago)
x (1)
there is anasty log in the put in rapid. at flows above 700 cfs its not much of an issue, but at
lower flows it has accounted for rib injuries and one very close call for another paddler. Beware
it looks rather benign but it is quite dangerous. Also be aware of numerous sieves and a major
suckhole in the exit slot of the s-turn rapid.