Tule, MF - Camp Nelson to Springville/Globe (Lake Success)

Tule, MF, California, US


Camp Nelson to Springville/Globe (Lake Success)

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Max Gradient 500 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Tule Near Springville
dream-425 300 - 800 cfs IV-V 01h11m 168 cfs (too low)

River Description

The Tule is a small but spectacular drainage on the southwest edge of Sequoia National Park.    There are several different sections which are paddled, starting with extreme boating up high and ending with moderate boating through Springville to Lake Success.    As we get more information we will create separate pages for each section. 

Getting there:   From Porterville take highway 190 up through Springville.  The Highway follows the river to the top of the drainage.  google map

Clay Wright recalled in 2007: 

"It's been years, but it's pretty memorable.  I think that's the first  place I would take a SE'rn creeker for a Cali introduction - steep  and incredibly runnable.  You guys should dial that thing in and  check out the upstream sections for sure.  I've never had the time (1  week between rodeos) to really poke around.

Downstream of the confluence is mostly good to go at low water.   There is one nasty sieve marked by an imposing bounder on river right  at the end of a 'boat-scout' section right before a sweet drop you  can see from the car.   There have been some close calls and it is  close to the confluence as I recall.  There are many many rapids and  it requires a lot of scouting but low water is still really good to  go.    Many of these rapids have large holes at higher water and we  portaged a lot on that first higher flow trip.   It is NOT the easy  section it looks like from the road unless the water is low (under  100cfs).   To Coffee Camp took us 3 hours at an estimated 350 - 500  cfs - lots of holding ropes and scouting and portaging ;  and we  thought we would run the full 6 miles before checking out the drops  upstream.

  Came back at estimated 70-100 cfs and cruised down to next big  camp with far fewer portages in as much time - and it was a funner,  much less challenging day.    The next day we ran from the 30' falls  on the river Left Fork down to the bottom take-out and that was a  really great, full day of low volume creeking.   Tons of 'how do we  possibly get through here' boulder problems but I think everything  went with some grovelling (could be wrong).

Above the confluence, both forks go but the river left one is best.   You can put in up where you see the big, beautiful 30' falls.    Either bounce down the right shelf or boof far left because it is  very shallow - a pothole in there somewhere has trashed some boats  and ankles. We had to be talked out of running it - it looks sweet.   We put in below but people 're-connect' right in some recent videos  so they shoot out instead of pencil.  Check depth at low water for  future reference.

Below here there are lots of fun low water drops and one really  committing section towards the end where you'll not want to run a  'nozzle' below several nice falls.  Tough to portage it, and we  bounced through at low water.   Below here is another kinda  continuous section into a wooded drop where lots of the river falls  left into the jagged bank but you can grovel through the bushes a bit  and make the move right.

The last drop at the confluence is chunky but we ran it.    Upstream  of the 'big falls' there is plenty more good stuff but I haven't run it.

The river right fork offers the 'Mexico slides' where everyone can  pick lines across a beautiful travertine-like waterfall.  Hours of  fun.  We paddled from here down and it was difficult and a portage  fest.   Brandon Knapp ran several of the drops including the  confluence dam, but we didn't.

There is an incredible drop near the end of the lower run Dustin  dubbed 'Super-crack' where the whole river nozzles down to just under  a boat-width while sliding about 10' over 50' long flume.   One of  the coolest drops I 've run.  Tilt your hip or you will slow down  right at the end and possibly surf the hole.    Really scarey - they  sent an empty boat through first.


Video Links:

Kaweah and Tule video from 2007 by Jared Noceti

Other information sources:
Trip Report by Adam Griffin. Scroll to near the bottom of a long blog page.
FOR Tule page
Sequoia Riverlands Trust
Conservation Fund
web page with nice pictures of the area.
web page with nice pictures of the area.  

Lower Tule Irigation District

uses the water below the reservoir.
Army Corp Success Lake recreation page

There are several different hydro-electric projects on the Tule River. Information about each project can be found on the web at ferc.gov using the ‘‘RIMS’’ link, select ‘‘Docket#’’ and follow the instructions (call 202–208–2222 for assistance).

The Lower Tule Project, #372, owned by Southern CA Edison was relicensed in 2002.  
    The powerhouse is located about 2 miles east of Springville.  "This "run of the river" facility diverts water from both the South and North Forks of the Middle Fork Tule River, near the confluence of the two forks, and conveys the water via a 31,802-foot conduit to the powerhouse generating 2,520-kilowatts.  The maximum capacity of the conduit is 39 cubic feet per second (cfs).   The diversion affects approximately 5.4 miles of the lower Tule River.   In addition to power generation, the Tule River Project delivers water to the community of Springville from the tailrace of the powerhouse."   from State Water Resources Control Board document

North & Middle Forks Tule River Project, #1333, owned by Pacific Gas & Electric was relicensed in 1993.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-11-19 19:02:53

Rapid Descriptions

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