Coarsegold Creek, California, US
Yosemite Springs Parkway to Rd. 400 (Black Hawk Lake)
||II-III(IV) (for normal flows)
Coursegold Creek: scenic drop
Coursegold Creek: scenic dropPhoto of Paul Martzen by Daniel Lundberg taken 02/04/05 @ too low
This section of Coarsegold Creek is reported to be the best section of this creek, and one of the
more fun creeks in the area when it has decent flow. I only ran it at a pityful flow so I can't
say, but it did seem like it has potential for fun rapids and it is quite scenic.
The area is rolling low foothills and the creek has cut only a shallow trench in spots.
From Fresno, drive on Highway 41 to Yosemite Springs Parkway. The put-in is
about 100 yards downhill from this junction and there are several places that one could park near
the creek. Continue driving on Yosemite Springs Parkway all the way to Road 400 and turn left. Or
if you have a good map you can find your way through the subdivision roads to Lilley Mt. Drive and
perhaps save some distance.
Special landowner request at the take-out:
There is a driveway about 50 yards north of the
creek on Road 400. A house is visible up this driveway. The owner is a very decent fellow and asked
us to check in when ever we use this take-out. Be gracious, drive up, introduce yourselves, and
maybe bring a thank you gift.
Put-in elevation: 1165 feet
Take-out elevation: 775 feet.
The creek quickly enters a pretty mini-mini-gorge with walls 5 or 6 feet high and narrow in spots.
When it opens up the creek spreads out and can be shallow but still has many interesting areas.
After 2 miles the creek enters the long, narrow Black Hawk Lake and you must paddle 1.2 miles of
flatwater. Huge and fancy mansions dot the shore. There looks to be a public or semi-public boat
ramp area on the right about halfway along this reservoir. There may be access to this reservoir
off of Long Hollow Drive.
The spillway at the end looks potentially runnable, but we just walked up a nice ramp and down a
dirt road to the creek at the bottom of the dam.
In the next mile we had a few quite large drops, some of which we ran and some we portaged, due to
low water or the drops being bigger than we wanted to paddle. A decent flow would make this section
very exciting and fun. Portages were always easy.
At about mile 4.8 we came to a large cascade where much of the flow went underneath boulders. There
are a number of houses on river right, so we portaged high on river left. One could portage at
river level with a lot of work to negotiate the huge boulders. This is a very pretty area and we
found where the current carved a small cave in a side channel.
The creek flattens and spreads out in sections throughout the run, so be mentally prepared to enjoy
cow country scenery while scraping along. Brush and logs can require portages anywhere along the
distance. We did quite a few portages and a fair amount of crashing through bushes to not portage
at times. Higher flows would open up channels better and reduce this problem.
Paul Martzen, 2005
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Last Updated: 2007-03-19 02:54:39