South Fork of the American (Coloma to Greenwood)
|Stretch:||Coloma State Park to Greenwood Creek|
|Difficulty:||Class II to III-|
|Flows:||500-x000 cfs Current Dreamflows gauge|
|Put-in:||Coloma State Park/TD>|
|Take-out:||Greenwood Creek Day Use Area|
|Shuttle:||~3 miles (6 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Dam release, year round|
So finally, 12 years after my first run down this stretch of river I have gotten bored enough to write it up. My first time down was actually in rafts 16 years ago, but 12 years ago I ventured down this stretch of river in open canoes with my Boy Scout troop. I’d like to report that it was completely successful, but that would be a lie. Instead, my bowman (Paul Gamache, 2009 world record holder for world’s tallest waterfall at 108 feet) and I swam just downstream of Henningson Park we flipped out canoe and swam. Due to the fact that we were supposed to be leading the group, our canoe floated down river and wrapped itself on a rock. As Paul and I finally make it ashore, we both come to realization that we nearly died (joke) and began to softly weep (not a joke). Oh well, every boater has their beginnings, we were only 12, so sue us. The small world of the situation was, that a raft guide named Andy Reimers happened to be floating by and saw the canoes wrapped on the rock and laughed out as he asked if we were with troop 444. As it turned out Andy had been a member of the troop in his younger years and had plenty of experience with us wrapping boats…
A lot of people would list the put-in and take-out for this run to be Camp Lotus, making for an exciting day of playboating at “Barking Dog.” But with that aside, this is a great run for beginnings to get their first taste of whitewater. There are plenty of waves to hit, eddies to flip on, rocks to bounce off of, and spectators to watch. So, I am not going to do a mile by mile on this, as there really is no point. If you see a long line of kayakers in an eddy or surfing a wave in the middle of the river you are most likely at Barking Dog. Be weary of the eddy boil downstream on the right as it will want to flip you. Good luck and have fun, and remember, to quote Lebowski, “strong men also cry, strong men also cry.”
Also, I don’t actually believe that at higher flows this run becomes class III, but I can imagine that the swims would last longer. Be weary if the flows are 2,000 cfs or above. That may not be the best time for a class II boater to venture down this stretch for their first time.
Take-out: A mile or two below the 49 bridge you will see a turnout on the river side of your car for Greenwood river access. A nice parking lot and bathroom await you.
Put-in: Head up 49 (upriver) until you enter historic Coloma, there is river access just before the Gold discovery site.
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