Kerchoff reservoir is a good year round destination for flat water kayakers, canoeists and beginning whitewater kayakers. There are several locations along Kerchoff reservoir that are suitable for launching canoes or kayaks. Boaters can explore the small reservoir, down towards Kerchoff Dam or back up the river as far as they can make it. Most whitewater paddlers also launch on Kerchoff reservoir, but then paddle upstream towards the powerhouse. They can play awhile on the interesting eddy lines and in the small waves, then drift back down the river to their starting point. With some additional work boaters can paddle past the powerhouse outflow, do a short portage and continue upstream till progress is blocked by huge boulders.
The river between the powerhouse and the reservoir is very scenic with one large beach on river left about halfway in between. For playboaters the main attraction is the deep and strong eddy lines. There are also a few areas with interesting waves or small reversals.
During spring spill season, expert boaters can paddle Horseshoe Bend which is just upstream and Patterson Bend which is just downstream.
This area is affected by 3 FERC licenses. Big Creek #4 powerhouse operates under FERC license # 2017 reissued in December 2003. Wishon powerhouse is the small powerhouse at the reservoir. It operates under FERC license #1354, Kerchoff reservoir itself is part of the Kerchoff project with FERC license #96,
Big Creek #4 powerhouse can release up to 3600 cfs and usually does. Sometimes in fall and winter the release will be less than the maximum, but often SCE will release the same maximum flow but for less hours.
The powerhouse will generally run for at least part of the day, almost everyday of the year. So far, SCE has refused to provide regular online flow information for this excellent section of river. If you call them up they may tell you on a day to day basis.
In the autumn and winter the powerhouse may only operate for a few hours a day, or may only be on at night. It can also start up and stop at any time with no discernable pattern.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Paddlers can park at the bridge, at Smalley Cove camping area or at one of the turnouts where the road is close to the water. Paddle upstream or downstream, then return to the same spot afterwards.
Boaters can also park near the gate above the powerhouse and carry boats about 1/4 mile, down the access road to launch next to the powerhouse. Take out at the lake, then shuttle back. Considering the short distance and easy water, paddling upstream from the reservoir is often a good option.
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