American, S. Fork - 7. Coloma to Greenwood Creek

American, S. Fork, California, US


7. Coloma to Greenwood Creek (C to G)

Usual Difficulty II+ (for normal flows)
Length 5.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 17 fpm

Barking Dog

Barking Dog
Photo of Theresa Simsiman by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 11/12/17 @ 1000 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
cdec-CBR 600 - 12000 cfs II+ 01h35m 1133 cfs (running)
Best for beginners at the low end. The gauge is about 6 miles upstream of Marshal Gold Park.

River Description

The C to G run has many Class I and II rapids, perfect for beginners and boaters of all skill levels. There are long stretches of slow moving flat water, interspersed with riffles, but there are several significant class 1, 2 and even 2+ rapids. Highway Rapid is particularly long.  

Put in:

There is a public launching area at the downstream end of the Marshal Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma. A parking fee is required of all autos.  

Take out:

Greenwood Creek river access has 40 parking stalls. Boats must be carried up a trail from the river to the parking area. This area was developed by the BLM in 2005. 

Other access locations: Boaters can also launch a short ways upstream of Marshal Park, at either American River Resort or Coloma Resort if they pay day fees or are camped there. Kayakers can launch at the highway 49 bridge, but parking is very limited. Henningson Lotus Park has a boat launching area at the downstream end.  Fees are required. Lotus Park allows day use river access for a fee. Several other campgrounds along the river provide river access for their customers. 

Local Clubs: 

There are a number of active paddling clubs that frequent this river. Listed below are just a few of our American Whitewater affiliates:
Gold Country Paddlers
Chico Paddleheads
Sierra Club: Loma Prieta Chapter.

Online Information: 

American River Page is an online forum
The River Store is in Lotus.

The Coloma Shuttle is a program of the American River Recreation Association. Schedules are arranged so that you can eliminate the hassle of “the shuttle” out of your day and the carbon monoxide out of the environment. 

Check here to see other rivers in California of similar difficulty Class 1 & 2 Rivers

River Conservancies:
Protect American River Parkways works to protect the North and Middle forks of the American River, along with The American River Conservancy.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-11-19 16:19:58

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.0Old ScaryII
1.4Highway 49 BridgeN/AAccess
2.0Henningson Lotus ParkN/AAccess
3.0Camp LotusN/AAccess
3.2Barking DogIIPlayspot Photo
5.0Highway RapidII+
5.4Greenwood Creek River AccessN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Coloma (Class N/A)

There is a boat launching area at the downstream end of the Marshal Gold Discovery State Park. There is a fee for parking.   Take outs are not permitted at this location. There are several different parking areas and entrances at the park. The furthest downstream entrance should have signs for boat launching. Turn off the highway then turn left to the launching area.

Old Scary (Class II, Mile 1.0)

This was the biggest rapid in the section till the floods of 1982-83.


The river bends to the left and affords a view of motor homes and travel trailers lined up above the river on the right bank.   The river continues curving to the left as it drops downa a wide rapid.   Several large boulders at the bottom right offer targets for those without boat control or for those looking for extra fun maneuvering.

Highway 49 Bridge (Class N/A, Mile 1.4)

There is a very limited amount of parking near the bridge, but it can be used as a put in or take out on river left. There are private resorts on river right.

Henningson Lotus Park (Class N/A, Mile 2.0)

Henningson Lotus Park extends for over a half mile on river right from the Highway 49 bridge downstream. There are playing fields, picnic areas and hiking trails. A developed boat launching area with a large parking lot is at the downstream end of the playing fields.

Rapid (Class II+, Mile 2.6)

A group of islands create several alternate and interesting channels. The biggest drops are near where they come back together.

Camp Lotus (Class N/A, Mile 3.0)

This privately owned public campground allows boat launching and take out for people camped there or for a day use fee.

Barking Dog (Class II, Mile 3.2)

Barking Dog

Barking Dog
Photo of Evan Stafford by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 11/12/17 @ 1000 cfs

Great surf wave! The river funnels into a steep breaking wave. The wave provides a challenge to beginners trying to stay upright as they punch through. It provides a wonderful challenge to playboaters trying to surf and do acrobatic tricks.


Boaters who want to park and play can pay a day use fee to park at Camp Lotus.   From there they can paddle downstream to this play spot, then paddle back upstream when they are finished playing. 

Highway Rapid (Class II+, Mile 5.0)

The last rapid before Greenwood Creek is long and very interesting. Beginning kayakers who get tipped over and swim, could have a long, bumpy, painful ride.


Greenwood Creek River Access (Class N/A, Mile 5.4)

The takeout is on river right, a dirt trail comes down to the river and leads back up to the parking lot.

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