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Difficulty IV-V
Length 8.3 Miles
Gauge So. Feather Below Little Grass Valley
Flow Range 180 - 500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 99 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 10/12/2012 5:48 pm

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. 


Rapid Descriptions

Trash Can Falls

Class - N/A Mile - 0.2

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

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

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

Class - Mile - 2.8
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
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
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

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
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

Class - Mile - 4.5
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

Class - Mile - 5.1
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 - 5.75
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
“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


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Thomas Moore
7 years ago

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

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Paul Martzen
11 years ago

> 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

Gage Descriptions

Daily Flows Realtime Flows Dreamflows Home
Show 30 Days
Show 3 Years

Dreamflows estimates flow.
Runnable at 180 cfs but better at 330 cfs.

Directions Description

After trying a variety of routes, I've decided that the most reasonable shuttle from South Fork Diversion Dam to Post Creek or Little Grass Valley Reservoir Dam is on river right.  From the takeout road drive downstream (right) to Golden Trout Crossing (Road 24).  At the top of the crossing take a right.  Please keep your maps and eyes open ... this is an easy place to get lost.

Google maps does not show this route so the map is not displayed below. 

No Accident Reports



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Theresa Simsiman

In California during the midst of COVID 19, American Whitewater has made a commitment to work with local counties, state & federal land management agencies and hydropower utilities to get paddlers the most up to date status of scheduled recreational flows for 2020. Here is the status of scheduled releases for NF Feather Rock Creek, Pit 5 and SF Feather Little Grass Valley. The most up to date information can also be found on our calendar here:


Paul Martzen


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1200695 09/22/11 Paul Martzen changed release dates
1194227 10/15/08 n/a n/a
1200587 09/01/11 Paul Martzen embedded video
1195850 08/20/09 n/a
1201610 10/10/12 Paul Martzen guage update & minor changes
1201614 10/12/12 Paul Martzen Mcquoid Link, minor edits