Arroyo Seco - 1) Willowcreek Bridge to Arroyo Seco Picnic Area

Arroyo Seco, California, US


1) Willowcreek Bridge to Arroyo Seco Picnic Area

Usual Difficulty IV(V) (for normal flows)
Length 3 Miles

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-11151870 8.00 - 9.00 ft IV(V) 00h59m 3.3 ft (too low)
usgs-11152000 200 - 500 cfs IV(V) 01h14m 46.5 cfs (too low)

River Description

The Arroyo Seco drains west out of the Santa Lucia mountains and Ventana Wilderness into the Salinas River at Greenfield.   This section is known for its very pretty gorge and for the 3 mile hike required to get from the take out to the put in. 

Season:  Winter and spring rainstorms can bring flows up into the thousands of cfs, but as soon as the rain stops, flows drop quickly. The boating window can be from a day or two up to a week.  During periods of steady or frequent rains, flows can remain at boatable levels for longer periods. 

Christina Starr contributes:
"Arroyo Seco is one of the top class IV runs in California. Do not bother with the brushy lower sections. All the action is in the Gorge above the picnic area.
To reach the put-in, park at the upper parking lot and carry your boat around the locked gate across the dirt road. It is about a three-mile hike; not too bad, though. Put in at the Willow Creek packbridge.
The first two miles are class IV with one class V. You can scout the major rapids from river left, right after Santa Lucia Creek enters from the right.
First two miles are in a spectacular gorge and the rapids are mostly class III-IV with one class V: "MUCHOS CAJONES." "

Other boaters report that the lower sections are very scenic and worthwhile despite brush in some areas. 

Other Information Sources:  

Los Padres National Forest:  Monterey Ranger District (King City, 831-385-5434)   Campground Kiosk: 831-674-5726
CA-Creeks-Arroyo Seco  Online guidebook





StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-10-29 03:58:01

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 6 2009 (3447 days ago)
x (1)
This run is very fun, especially since there is no shuttle. I do however, enjoy hiking into runs.
This rock is incredible and the rapids are fun. *NOTE. Muchos Cajones is easily run with speed and
a strong boof. I have heard of people messing it up and flushing right away. I almost drowned here.
I was getting the beatdown in my boat before I pulled, expecting to flush. Instead, I was recirced
underwater for a very long time. I truly thought I might drown and I tried everything I knew to get
out of there. Finally I did flush and there was a big chill pool below. My boat was stuck in an
eddy upstream and would have been very difficult to get without someone still up there. Climbing
back is not really an option as it is cliffed out. Have fun but be careful. Jeremy L
March 9 2008 (3930 days ago)
x (1)
During my first trip down this river I swam out of the last hole on Mucho Cjones and flushed down
stream through the canyon walls just down stream. The 2 friends I was paddeling with went down
stream before me. The swim was fine no rocks no bruises the problem was the boat. Just down stream
is a strong eddie on left the will suck you equipment in. This may not sound so bad but access from
downstream is next to impossible. the cliff wals are 40 feet and shear with only manzanita bushes
to make anchors out of. After 1.5 hours of planning crappy anchors and throw rope harnesses were
were saved by the party upstream of us who disloged my boat for me. -To run Mucho I would sugest
scouting on Left, setting safety and having you best paddler go first and catch the eddy just down
stream to do equip recovery in case of a swimmer. (the hole is sticker than it looks). Steven

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