South Platte, North Fork, Colorado, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||85 fpm|
|Max Gradient||160 fpm|
|NORTH FORK SOUTH PLATTE RIVER AT BAILEY|
|codwr-PLABAICO0||200 - 600 cfs||IV-V||01h04m||402 cfs (running)|
This is one of the finest runs in Colorado. The general nature is "easy" creeking in a
beautiful forested wilderness canyon.
Bailey is somewhat remote, low-volume, tight and technical. The three Class V rapids are difficult to recognize, so your first run should be with a Bailey veteran.
There is a historic narrow gauge railroad grade that parallels the river providing a perfect scouting trail for all the rapids. One of the bridges you duck under dates from 1886! The trail on the grade is river right from Four Falls to "The Steeps" section, from Super Max to the take-out it is on river left.
After four miles of mellow Class II/III is Four-Falls, the first major rapid (Class V, V+ if you run the first drop). Four Falls is located on private property. The landowners have been tolerant of paddlers in the past, but they have complained about paddlers urinating on the trail and leaving behind their broken boats. They have asked us to urinate in the river, if necessary, and pack out what you pack in. Sounds reasonable. 99% of us will want to portage 1st fall, so we can't afford to lose access here!
The mile after Four Falls is collectively dubbed "The Steeps", with numerous class III, IV, and IV+ rapids. This section can be very stressful for Bailey virgins, as Bailey veterans usually don't want to scout it! In the three miles from Four Falls to Deer Creek, the river drops 441 feet! After Deer Creek the significant gradient is over, but there are still 4+ miles with scattered Class III and IV rapids. This is far and away the most beautiful part of the run, so it's a great time to lean back, relax, and admire the granite domes and bedrock rapids. A fire raged through this section in 2000.
Shuttle directions: The put-in is reached from Hwy. 285 mile 222.2 (at the east side of Bailey) where you turn onto Hwy. 68. After turning south on Hwy 68, you will see a feed store, liquor store and some businesses. The put in is behind these businesses and is called McGraw Park. A new parking lot is being constructed for park access that is to the left (downstream) of the businesses. Current parking (limited) is available to the right of the businesses by the old foot bridge. Do not park in the feed store parking spots in the front of the businesses, or the irate feed store operator will try to have you towed. Kayakers used to use a put in downstream at a bridge with culverts. The landowners no longer want kayakers using their property to put in, so please use the put in at the town of Bailey. Note that there are two culverts that are navigable under the bridge about a ¼ mile downstream of the takeout. Be careful of wood at the culverts.
The first four miles flow through private property and there are a lot of fishermen who pay $$$ for the privilege of fishing here.
Please help maintain good relations with these landowners so we all can avoid any conflict.
To reach the take-out, turn south off Hwy. 205 at mile 229 onto Pine Valley Rd. Follow this road
5.9 miles and then take a right on Crystal Lake Rd. This road ends in 1.3 miles at Pine Valley Ranch Park
which is about as good as a takeout as you could ask for, with a huge paved parking lot right
next to the river with no fees to pay. If you're a fun hog bring your mountain bike as there
are a lot of trails here.
Run time is between 3-5 hours. Shuttle is 30 min. one way, on paved roads.
Check out Mike Albrecht's pics of Bailey
For more information see Colorado Rivers and Creeks II, Gordon Banks and Dave Eckardt. Click on the picture below to buy it online.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|6.8||Big Flake O' Rock||III+|
|6.8||Deer Creek Rapid||5.0|
Put in (Class II+)
Put in at the town of Bailey. ¼ mile downstream you go through 2 large navigable culverts. Be alert for wood. For the next couple of miles, you float through private property owned by fly fishing companies. Please respect the fisherman, give them a wide berth, float quietly, and try not to be loud or impact their fishing experience. Good relations with these landowners is beneficial to kayakers.
Releases Scheduled for the North Fork South Platte (CO)
July 30, 2010
October Volunteer Of The Month - Presented By Kokatat
September 28, 2010
Volunteer of the Month - Presented by Kokatat
August 6, 2013