Feather, West Branch - 1) Whiskey Flat to Dean Road

Feather, West Branch, California, US


1) Whiskey Flat to Dean Road (Naked Lady Run)

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 4.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 70 fpm
Max Gradient 100 fpm

Token Eddy

Token Eddy
Photo of Mike Martini by Thomas O'Keefe taken 03/07/09

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
cdec-WFR 300 - 2000 cfs IV-V 02h10m 51 cfs (too low)

River Description

The West Branch Feather drainage was missed during the early kayaking exploratory that occurred during the 1980’s. Several attempts were made to run the West Branch of the Feather from Whiskey Flat to Lake Oroville in the late 80’s and early 90’s, all resulted in bushwhacking out of this steep canyon. In 1994 Eric Nies and Kate Udall, at the suggestion of Dave Steindorf, ran the section of the West Branch from Whiskey Flat to Dean Road. What they found was a classic undiscovered class IV run with great access.
The run starts off with a few warm up rapids: the first requiring attention is a picket fence that has several options and a bad sieve in the middle. Below this set of rapids is the Miocene Dam. This dam can generally be run at flows below 1.4 on the staff gauge that is located on the right side of the dam. The dam can be easily portaged on the right side.
A few short rapids below the dam you will come to the first major horizon line. This rapid is known as Miniature Golf. Like most of the rapids on the West Branch this one has multiple options. Down the left is fairly straight forward; dodge some holes and make the turn and you are good to go.
Let’s Make a Deal, a rapid with four different routes in between boulders, follows. Door 2 (counting from right to left) is the straightforward option. Door 4 is a little easier to boat scout. The next rapid is Token Eddy which is run down the river right side and grab the token eddy halfway down on river right.
The final two big drops are another step up. The first of these is Stop, Drop, and Roll where you start left and then thread the slot between boulders at the bottom to avoid the sieves on far river right and river left known as the Tunnel of Love. The final big drop is Bullet which has a couple different lines at the top which have changed over the years. Most portage the top section on the left and then enter the rapid midway down. The middle section of the rapid can be run down the center but working towards the left. As the rapid approaches the wall at the bottom, work right to avoid the hydraulic up against the wall on river left.
There are a couple more rapids to finish out the run. As a wall approaches on river left the river drops into hydraulic up against the wall. The currents along the wall feed back into the hydraulic that tend to hold boats and swimmers. 
The final rapid is a fun class III+ rapid. Immediately work to river right at the bottom of the rapid. Below here the river drops into a tempting series of boulder gardens representing the start of Ben and Jerry's Gorge. Resist the temptation and don't miss the take-out. It is a steep hike up an informal social trail that heads up to the flume and the parking area.
Other Information Sources:

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-11-11 02:29:17


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.6Miocene DamIVPhoto
1.2Minature GolfIV+Photo
1.4Let's Make a DealIV+Photo
1.6Token EddyIVPhoto
1.9Stop, Drop, and Roll5.0Photo
2.6The WallN/A

Rapid Descriptions

Miocene Dam (Class IV, Mile 0.6)

Miocene Dam

Miocene Dam
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 03/07/09

Miocene Dam diverts 30 to 50 cfs to the Miocene Canal to Lime Saddle and Coal Canyon powerhouses which are unlicensed PG&E hydropower projects. Stop to check it out as it is generally a portaged at flows greater than 1.4.

Minature Golf (Class IV+, Mile 1.2)

Minature Golf

Minature Golf
Photo of Lisa by Dave Steindorf

Navigate your way through the boulders on river right or take the channel down the left.

Let's Make a Deal (Class IV+, Mile 1.4)

Let's Make a Deal, upstream view

Let's Make a Deal, upstream view
Photo by Dave Steindorf

Let's Make a Deal offers a choice of 4 different routes.

Token Eddy (Class IV, Mile 1.6)

Token Eddy

Token Eddy
Photo of Mike Martini by Thomas O'Keefe taken 03/07/09

Driver hard to the right to catch the river right eddy up against the wall midway down and then continue on down the right side of the rapid.

Stop, Drop, and Roll (Class 5.0, Mile 1.9)

Stop Drop and Roll

Stop Drop and Roll
Photo of Kevin Colburn by Thomas O’Keefe taken 11/09/17 @ 700 cfs

Enter left and then thread the slot between the boulders at the bottom avoiding the sieves on far river right and river left.

Bullet (Class 5.0, Mile 2.3)

Bullet from the bottom

Bullet from the bottom
Photo of Megi Morishita by Thomas O’Keefe taken 11/09/17 @ 700 cfs

A couple different lines at the top which have changed a bit over the years. You can also portage the top part and continue on down through the lower half of the rapid.

The Wall (Class N/A, Mile 2.6)

Small hole and swirly water, no big deal.  Just don't end up on the Wall.

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