Feather, S. Fork - 1. Little Grass Valley Reservoir to South Fork Diversion Dam

Feather, S. Fork, California, US


1. Little Grass Valley Reservoir to South Fork Diversion Dam

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 8.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 154 fpm

Left Over Postage

Left Over Postage
Photo of Eric Petlock by Dave Steindorf @ 300 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
So. Feather Below Little Grass Valley
dream-479 180 - 500 cfs IV-V 02h10m 6 cfs (too low)

River Description

The South Fork Feather from the little Grass Valley Reservoir to the South Fork Diversion is a Lost Sierra Jewel that was discovered, or rediscovered, in 2004.  Even though this reach has flows every fall when the utility draws down Little Grass Valley Reservoir, little was known about the run due to its remote nature.  It takes roughly an hour to get to the put-in from either Oroville or Quincy, the two closest metropolises.  The foreboding views from the dam down into the first gorge likely scared off early would be paddlers from this reach.  What they did not know is that below this gorge, which is still a portage fest for most, is a classic run with many beautiful granite gorges and high quality whitewater. South Fork Water and Power, the utility that operates the Dam, has been more than willing to work with AW to schedule these flows so that they work for the paddling community.   This project has been going through FERC relicensing since 2003.  As part of that process South Fork Water and Power has agreed to schedule boatable releases from Little Grass Valley reservoir into the South Feather each fall.



Other Information Sources:  
South Feather Water & Power Agency
Darin McQuoid Website: SF Feather  Darin has fantastic photos, interesting stories and lots of detail about this run. 


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-10-12 17:48:14

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.2Trash Can FallsN/APortage Waterfall Photo
1.02nd GorgeIVPhoto
2.6Morneau's More NoseIVPhoto
2.8Postage DuePhoto
3.0Live and Left LiveIVPhoto
3.2Left Over PostageIV+Photo
3.5Post CreekN/AAccess Photo
4.3Stump the ChumpsIV+Hazard Photo
4.5Roland's NightmareHazard Photo
5.1South Fork FallsPortage Photo
5.8Stein StuffingIV

Rapid Descriptions

Trash Can Falls (Class N/A, Mile 0.2)

Trash Can Falls

Trash Can Falls
Photo of Rusty Sage @ 300 cfs

This is a 20 to 30 foot falls in the middle of the top gorge.  Rusty Sage broke his boat after running the falls and landing in three feet of water. The bottom is said to be shallow all the way across the base of the falls.  None the less, some boaters are successfully running this drop.  If you are tempted to try it, you should thouroghly explore the landing first.

The portage is high on the right bank and requires catching a small eddy above the falls.

2nd Gorge (Class IV, Mile 1.0)

Second Gorge

Second Gorge
Photo of Mike Roberts by Dave Steindorf @ 300 cfs

After about one mile into the run, you will come to the second gorge.  This gorge contains a number of class IV ledge drops with several nice boofs.   Boat scouting should be reasonable for many paddlers.

Morneau's More Nose (Class IV, Mile 2.6)

More Nose

More Nose
Photo of Eric Petlock by Dave Steindorf @ 300 cfs

This is a rather innocuous looking drop with a very sticky hole at the bottom.  If you don't get your nose up, you won't punch the hole, hence the name. Shawn Morneau took a nasty beating here during the flow study.

Postage Due

Postage Due Entrance

Postage Due Entrance
Photo of Eric Petlock by D. Steindorf @ 300 cfs

This is one of the harder rapids on the run. The entrance is tricky, if you miss it you will get posted on the right rock at the top or the left wall at the bottom. The rapid finishes in a very pretty vertical walled gorge. You can do a short portage and seal launch on the right.

Live and Left Live (Class IV, Mile 3.0)

Live and Left Live

Live and Left Live
Photo of Third rapid of the Post Creek Gorge by Dave Steindorf @ 300 cfs

This rapid comes shortly after Postage Due. The rapid has a long lead-in and culminates in a riverwide 4 foot ledge that is best run on the left. Starting the rapid on the right gives you a nice charge to the left boof.

Left Over Postage (Class IV+, Mile 3.2)

Left Over Postage

Left Over Postage
Photo of Eric Petlock by Dave Steindorf @ 300 cfs

This is the last hard rapid above Post Creek. The line is through the left slot to a six foot drop. You don't want the right side. The entrance can be a little tricky.

Post Creek (Class N/A, Mile 3.5)

The log at Post Creek

The log at Post Creek
Photo of Large log across the river at Post Creek by Eric Petlock @ 300 cfs

Post Creek enters on river right at approximately river mile 3.5. This spot is easy to recognize because of the large log that crosses the river just below the confluence. From this location a trail on river right leads up to FS Road 21N65 . The hike out requires about 30 minutes. This access location can be used for emergency egress or as an early takeout location. This take out also reduces the shuttle distance considerably.

Stump the Chumps (Class IV+, Mile 4.3)

Stump the Chumps

Stump the Chumps
Photo by Dave Steindorf @ 300 cfs

Shortly below Post Creek is a rapid named “Stump The Chumps: The top portion of this rapids is typically portaged due to the log in the main channel. A short portage on the right allows you to put in and run the class IV bottom portion of the rapid. River Mile 4.3

Roland's Nightmare

Roland's Nightmare

Roland's Nightmare
Photo of Eric Petlock by Dave Steindorf taken 10/26/06 @ 360

This rather innocuous looking rapid has a horrible cave sieve about half way down the rapid. To make matters worse, a significant amount of water flows into the cave. The rapid is not hard, just junkie and consequential. It is possible to portage on the left. River Mile 4.5

South Fork Falls

South Fork Feather

South Fork Feather
Photo of South Fork Falls by Dave Steindorf @ 300 cfs

This narrow 25 foot falls is a mandatory portage. It is easy to have this one sneak up on you. The portage on the right is fairly easy but may require a little rope work with the boats. River Mile 5.1

Stein Stuffing (Class IV, Mile 5.8)
“Stein Stuffing” is the last significant rapid on the run. It requires a drop into a narrow slot; if you get deflected at all you can get broached sideways and likely swim, as Dave Steindorf did during the flow study.  The rapid can be easily portaged on the left. River mile5.75

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 3 2012 (2295 days ago)
ThomasM (150913)
For a much better descripting of this river that is not super outdated I recommend you go to this
site for good info, beta and pictures http://www.kayakphoto.com/darinmcquoid/sffeather.html
August 14 2009 (3441 days ago)
Paul MartzenDetails
> Because water was held in storage longer at Little Grass Valley this summer, releases
beginning August 17 and continuing through the end of September will be in the boatable range. The
planned schedule we have received from PG&E is as follows: > August 17 - begin ramping from 100
cfs to 250 cfs. Hold 250 cfs through September 1. > September 2 - ramp from 250 cfs to 300 cfs
and hold at 300 cfs throughout September. This will take Little Grass Valley to its end of
September elevation of 5,022 feet, keeping the boat ramps at the reservoir in service until the end
of the month. > > The 300 cfs flow will probably continue into October as the fall drawdown
begins. I will let you know the updated flow schedule as we get closer to October. > > Can
you please add to the flow information posted that campgrounds at Little Grass Valley begin closing
after Labor Day, although many stay open through the middle of September. The Sly Creek Campground
will be closed on October 1. > > Thanks for posting the information. > > Kathy
Zancanella > South Feather Water and Power Agency