Boulder Creek, South - 01. Rollinsville to Pinecliffe

Boulder Creek, South, Colorado, US


01. Rollinsville to Pinecliffe (Alto Alto SBC)

Usual Difficulty IV (for normal flows)
Length 6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 80 fpm

Lower Alto Alto - SBC, CO

Lower Alto Alto - SBC, CO
Photo of Eddy below fun drop by Brett Faike taken 05/05/02 @ 165 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
codwr-BOCPINCO0 400 - 900 cfs IV 62d16h04m 61 cfs (too low)

River Description

Guaranteed cold and clear!  
Alto-Alto - Upper South Boulder Creek has great paddling fun from the get-go.
This classic Colorado creek run can be accessed from a variety of launch points. Put-ins range from one to four miles above Rollinsville with tricky private land river access issues and a few man-made features. The river is alpine grade steepness near the Moffat Tunnel, rolling and falling away in sections. The river then begins pooling and dropping in stage pools from mining in the Tolland Valley.

After a boater has slid under HWY 119 you will pass the Rollinsville Yacht club on river right through the thick willow then the canyon tightens.

Hit the Opener surf wave then the rapids increase and the train feels like its in the river with you if you have the luck of hitting the rapid when the train is coming.

Rapid of Note: The U.P. Cascade:
Eddy out river left to scout before the river turns back to the right and plunges down a cascade with a wall on river right and the train tracks on river left. This rapid differs tremendously between 350 and 600 CFS creating two river-wide ledges at higher flows that stomp. The static and unnatural shoreline on river left mirrors river right shoreline.

Spanky rapid is followed by a few tight turns and river splitting islands.

*Edge season fun-fact:  Long vertical icicles at head height near island splits bring on new meaning to ice cream headache.

In the exit of the canyon section a paddler will notice significant riverbed alteration as entering the private land owner whom has taken liberties with the streambed. The land owners in here (above the Icehouse property river left) have tried to create some trout habitat, apparently without consulting Gary Lacey about boulder placement.

** Unique Colorado river hazard: This is the only run in Colorado where kayakers can be run over by Semi Trucks while boating. (private land owner is trucking trailer loads of gravel out of the former Ice House property by crossing the creek daily)

Alto-Alto has a great but little canyon section, the occasional crazy naked gold miner and the front range kitty kat is home to this canyon. Beware metal sieve at railroad track crossing overhead and railroad debris and low bridge in the creekbed near takeout.

Wood frequently moves through this run, so heads up!

See Colorado Rivers and Creeks II, by Banks and Eckardt (The Bible), for info on this and most of the other cool runs of Colorado.

Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.

The creeks of Boulder County,
Jasper Creek (Class V+/VI),
The Source (Class V),
Upper Boulder Canyon (Class V,V+),
Lower Boulder Canyon (Class IV),
Boulder Town Run (Class II/III),
North Fork Boulder (Class V+/VI),
Alto-Alto (Class IV),
Upper South Boulder (Class V+/VI),
Lower South Boulder (Class IV/V+/VI),
Eldorado Canyon (Class V+).

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-04-18 03:21:16


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put InIIPutin
1.5Opener RapidsIII+Playspot
1.9Lump Gulch entranceII+
2.3U.P. CascadeIVHazard
2.6Island TurnIVHazard
3.8Icehouse BridgeIIIPlayspot
4.0Southern BeaverIII+Playspot

Rapid Descriptions

Put In (Class II)
The traditional put-in for Alto Alto can be done two ways a. from the pullout on Hwy 119 south of creek crossing b. by turning west onto Rollins Pass Road/East Portal Road from the town of Rollinsville and driving < 1 mile and putting in just after the road passes under the railroad.

Opener Rapids (Class III+, Mile 1.5)
Just after the river leaves the tracks for the first time, you will be close against right hand wall with thickets on the left, the Opener Rapids provide the first good holes and play on the Alto Alto Run.

Lump Gulch entrance (Class II+, Mile 1.9)
lump gulch enters river right as a small creek and waterfall feature just above creek level

U.P. Cascade (Class IV, Mile 2.3)

The creek sweeps from right to left at a rockwall, then down into this cascading rapid.

Note the railroad tracks tight against the left shoreline and a cliff wall on river right. (scout from river left at small cobblestone beach)

Island Turn (Class IV, Mile 2.6)
continuous whitewater follows U.P. Cascade Rapid into a ledge filled turn leading into an island that divides the current, the usual route is left around island ducking under tree branches.

Icehouse Bridge (Class III, Mile 3.8)
This broke-down old white bridge crosses South Boulder Creek providing access to the former icehouse property along river left. Once under the bridge, a nice play section begins and runs about a half mile.

Southern Beaver (Class III+, Mile 4.0)
Several play holes with tall wave trains interspersed near the drainage tube coming in from South Beaver Creek.

takeout above the low-clearance railroad bridge just across from County Road 97 and the High Country Fire District Station #1

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    The decades old debate over public use of waterways in Colorado continues, and AW is working to protect the rights of all paddlers to enjoy Colorado's Rivers.