Lake Fork Gunnison - 01. Cinnamon Gorge

Lake Fork Gunnison, Colorado, US


01. Cinnamon Gorge (Upper - above Sherman)

Usual Difficulty V+ (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 280 fpm

Gordon, big drop, Cinnamon Gorge

Gordon, big drop, Cinnamon Gorge
Photo of Gordon Dalton by Jeremy Laucks taken 07/15/05

River Description

June, 2009: Safety Warning: There was a fatal accident here around June 6th. The accident occurred at the big waterfall. At this time some of the details are unclear but please be aware of the seriousness of this drop and the severity of the gorge in general. My thoughts are with the loved ones of the young man who was lost here.

We do not know how deep the pool is below this huge waterfall. Additionally, with the mining debris loose in the creek, the large timbers behind the falls, and the unstable rock of this gorge, there is a real possibility for something (man-made or natural) to be in the landing zone of this drop. Be advised.

Cinnamon Gorge: Where the upper Lake Fork Gunnison flows between 14,000 foot massifs Sunshine Peak and Handies Peak the rugged Cinnamon Gorge hides a giant waterfall; commonly known as "Sherman Falls."

Gordon Dalton and Jeremy Laucks ran this section in the summer of 2005 after being tempted by a vague tip "received in an unmarked brown envelope in a dark alley in Silverton." Scouting from the high road on river left reveals only a deep, dark cleft in the earth with occasional basso-profundo rumbles and a light mist rising from the abyss. Sketchy (very sketchy) scrambling to the edge of the canyon reveals only the top of a falls emerging from an ominous slot canyon; looking a bit like Adrenaline Falls on acid. The run is mainly consistent IV+ and V- drops with Colorado's usual suspects of wood and mining debris in the mix.There are lots of four or five foot long C-shaped steel rods lying in the creek. They must have been part of a sluice that ran along the creek. These things are ever-present throughout the latter part of the run and are a hazard, along with the other debris. Ironically, the biggest drop of the run - a very hefty waterfall tucked away in the heart of the canyon - also appears to be a remnant of the mining days. Whatever its history, this drop will have your heart pounding at the lip; and it may knock the wind out of you at the bottom. It is a serious drop with a serious landing at the bottom. As you can see from the photos, the falls is about four feet wide, very tall, and falls through a dramatic and imposing sheer slot canyon. Landmark the big drop early so you can hike up and over a rocky point from river-right to scout the landing pool. You could potentially carry around the big drop on this route as well but it would be steepish, and you might need rope work to re-enter the creek after the falls. At the end of the pool below the falls there is a trashy and tight little rapid that we ran down the right. After this, the rapids improve in quality a little bit, but you are soon at a bridge (labelled 18X RD or 30 RD on my DeLorme Gazeteer) near the ghost town of Sherman. Below this, the Lake Fork runs alongside 30 RD to the campground at Mill Gulch.

To reach Cinnamon Gorge, take 30 RD up the Lake Fork of the Gunnison from Lake San Cristobal. The bridge over the Lake Fork mentioned above is right by the former Sherman townsite. Respect Private Property. To put-in, drive up 4 RD toward Burrows Park and Cinnamon Pass. Put-in at whatever access point looks best. We chose an area near an avalanche slide several miles upstream.

If you want some more action, you might want to check out Cottonwood Creek which enters the Lake Fork near Sherman. We found some satisfying drops on it as well.

Gordon Dalton

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Last Updated: 2013-08-04 17:35:22


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Rapid Descriptions

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June 9 2009 (3514 days ago)
Gordon DaltonDetails
Please see the main description for this section of river. There was a fatality at the waterfall in
early June, 2009.