North Fork of the Feather River (Rock Creek)
|Stretch:||Rock Creek Dam to Tobin|
|Difficulty:||Class II+ (III+)|
|Flows:||800 - 2000 cfs (harder as it is higher). Dreamflow's gauge and American Whitewater Schedule|
|Put-in:||Turn Out below Dam|
|Take-out:||Tobin Free Camp|
|Season:||June to October planned release, Winter and Spring from spill|
For the past few years I have been going up to the North Feather to run Tobin and Lobin, but had never ventured up the river further to run the easier Rock Creek section. Finally this year I was able to talk some friends into running this run with me before continuing down river to our normal stomping grounds. I figured, a new run is a new run, and always worth doing at least once.
This run is kind of strange. The river is class II+ in nature, besides from one very large rapid, one somewhat large rapid, and two other larger rapids. With that said, besides the hardest rapid, none of it should be a problem for a class III boater. The largest rapid is easy to see from a road side pull out, allowing you to scout and pick a portage route before hand. This is good because by the time you release you are entering the rapid it is well too late to get out and scout. If you were paying more attention you could perhaps get out earlier if you recognized it. With that said, it is also possible to read and run with no info other than a glance when driving by it. Anyways, the river in total is a large step down from Lobin, but as stated the big rapid rivals Lobin and could prove to be a good testing ground. Regardless, this run is nice for the same reasons that Tobin and Lobin are nice for the class V and IV boaters, in the summer... options are running low, and a different run is always welcome. So for the class III boater who is tired of the South Fork of the American, this run offers a nice change of scenery (much prettier) without the stress of the bigger rapids and bigger consequences that await in the down river stretches.
- Sweet Boof (III). It seems like the first rapid comes almost immediately around
the first bend. You will know you are there by the boulder choke and horizon
line. We boofed off the center left channel. I think it would also be possible
to run the ramp that we boofed on to.
Big Hole (III-). The next rapid isn't that bad, but you have a large feature at the bottom glaring up at you to make you nervous. The feature looks like it will be a massive hole, but fear not, it is a massive hole, but you can boof over it if so inclined. The other option is to simply avoid it easily to either side.
Big One (IV-). This rapid is a large step up for this run, hence I am giving it a IV- instead of III+. The moves aren't all that hard to do, but the consequences of flipping would be a head/rib ache to say the least. The line is to stay as far right as possible. The problem is there are two medium size holes which keep pushing you center. And center of course leads into a huge rock, which then falls off onto other rocks. Stay away from the left side as it is all bad. Once you are right of the center rock it is smooth sailing from there.
Left Channel (III-). One more rapid which stuck out in my mind was down a narrow left channel. There were many holes and rocks to avoid, but still nothing that isn't read and runnable for a class III boater.
Take out: The Take out is located about a quarter mile after the Bridge that follows the Tobin Resort. It is a dirt road leading down to the river. There are two drive ways about 100 feet apart, both lead to the same cemented parking lot.
Put in: Driving up Highway 70 from Tobin you will see just upsteam of the boof rapid (maybe a quarter mile) a turn out on the right, followed by a turnout on the left. Either of these are the put-in. Not much further up the you come to the Rock Creek Dam and then to Beldon. Turn around if you get to either one of these. If you come up during a release, it wont be hard to find... just follow the hoards of people.
View North Feather, Rock Creek in a larger map
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