This photo needs editing.
Difficulty I
Length 19 Miles
Flow Range 150 - 1000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 31 minutes ago 99.2 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 02/08/2013 4:44 pm

River Description

This valley section of the Tuolumne is scenic and an excellent beginner run. There is a salmon run in the fall season. The river is primarily flat, but there are many riffles, narrow channels and sharp turns. Those with even modest experience and caution will have an enjoyable time and want to return again and again.    The river does require minor maneuvering skill to avoid the occasional obstacle, but it is a very forgiving stretch of water.  There are no drops or abrupt changes except for the man-made debris pile in the center of the river which occurs a few hundred yards below the La Grange Dam. 

 From La Grange down to Basso bridge boat ramp, the river is generally wide with numerous small riffles and even a small ledge drop. Turns are all fairly gradual.

From Basso Bridge to Turlock Lake State Park, the river seems to alternate between flat wide slow water, and narrow channels that are fast and twisty. These twisty, fast channels are great fun for those with good boat control. Beginners, on the other hand, can find themselves swept into the bushes and tipped over.

Getting there:
From Highway 99 in Modesto, take Yosemite Blvd (highway 132) for 32 miles to La Grange. From the south take highway 99 to Merced, then follow J 59 north, 30 miles to La Grange.

Put-in: Old La Grange Bridge. From the junction of J59 (La Grange Rd.) and Yosemite Blvd, travel 1/2 mile east on Yosemite blvd into La Grange, then turn left onto Old La Grange Bridge road. There is plenty of space to park in about 200 yards.

Tuolumne River Trust
Salmon Viewing Canoe Trips
Turlock Lake State Park
Fish restoration information.
Friends of the Tuolumne
Stanislaus Bird information.

Old La Grange Bridge , mile 0 google map
River access on both north and south sides of the river.
37.6664, -120.4615
New La Grange Bridge, Mile .55
Riffle, Mile .77
Riffle, mile 2.30
Basso Bridge boat ramp, Mile 2.69  Parking, picnic areas and a boat ramp.
37.6471, -120.4943
Turlock Lake State Park Campgrounds, Mile 8.66 google map
Good river access at campgrounds. Fees: $20 for camping or $6.00 per car, day use.
37.6315, -120.5839
Roberts Ferry Road, Mile 10.71
Reported to be poor river access.
37.6362 , -120.6183
Oakdale Waterford Highway, Mile 19.0

Unknown river access options
37.6361 , -120.7585
Fox Grove River Access, Mile 24.44
Parking areas and boat ramps.
37.6193 , -120.8429

Similar River Sections:
American in Sacramento
Merced near Snelling
San Joaquin below Friant
Kings below Pine Flat
Kaweah near Woodlake

Rapid Descriptions

Old La Grange Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

You can park at either end of the bridge, but the south side is a bit easier to find and a shorter drive.   Drive into La Grange and turn onto Old La Grange Bridge Road.   The bridge is very close and there is a fair amount of parking space.   The carry down to the river is a bit steep but fairly short.

Basso Bridge: launch and picnic area

Class - N/A Mile - 2.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

There is a large parking area with picnic tables, boat ramp, and grassy areas at this park next to Basso bridge.   Turn off of Highway 132 just east of the bridge onto Lake Road.   Immedeately turn into the park. 

Weeping Wall

Class - I Mile - 8.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

The river narrows, picks up quite a bit of speed and heads straight at a tall bluff wall festooned with hanging ferns.   The current makes a sharp right turn and runs along the wall.  Several rocks have fallen off the wall, protrude from the water and create obstacles to be avoided. 

Turlock Lake State Park Campgrounds

Class - Mile - 8.66
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

The campgrounds down by the river are very pretty and provide a good take-out or river access point.    Talk to park personel about where to leave vehicles.  

Fox Grove Park

Class - Mile - 24.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This looks to be a river access for power boats.  


Gage Descriptions

Flows between 150 and 300 cfs are considered reasonable for novice canoeists. More experienced paddlers who have previously paddled the river should find it enjoyable up to 1,000 cfs. Levels above 1,000 cfs should be left for strong paddlers with sufficient whitewater experience to deal with the hazards of fast, powerful and turbulent currents. In addition, during high flows the river spreads out and runs through all the trees and brush that are normally on dry ground. Paddlers mush have the skill to choose the safest routes, and to avoid the trees they will inevitably encounter.

Since 1995, minimum instream flows are at least 50 - 250 cfs in the summer time and at least 100 - 300 cfs in the fall and winter, depending on whether it has been a dry or wet year. These flows are due to the efforts of the Tuolumne River Trust and Dept of Fish & Game. Prior to that, minimum flows appear to have dropped as low as 13 cfs. See: Monthly average flows from 1985 to 2005.

Peak flows are usually in the winter or spring and generally range from 1,500 cfs up to 4,000 or even 10,000 cfls. The January 1997 floods peaked at 58,000 cfs. In some dry years the peak has occurred in October, ranging from 690 cfs up to 2,630 cfs.

Most of the flow of the Tuolumne river is diverted at La Grange dam for irrigation use by Turlock Irrigation District and by Modesto Irrigation District.

Real time rain and temperature information is available from some nearby weather stations; Green Springs station and near Snelling

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

5th Annual Paddle to the Sea with Tuolumne River Trust

Megan Hooker

This May and June join Paddle to the Sea – the Tuolumne River Trust’s popular paddle-a-thon where hundreds of river lovers and boating enthusiasts raft, canoe and kayak from the Sierra to San Francisco Bay. There is adventurous whitewater and mellow flat-water; fun one-day trips, or going the distance. Boaters of all skills and ages are encouraged to join.


Dave Steindorf


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1201342 02/08/13 Dave Steindorf
1194622 03/12/09 n/a make public