Beegum Creek Gorge


Stretch: USFS Campground to State Highway 36
Difficulty: class IV+ to V, with 4 or 5 portages
Distance: 7 miles, 1 day
Flows: kayaks 400 - 1000 cfs at take-out
Gauge: estimate 10% of flow at Cottonwood (COT)
Gradient: 90 fpm average, upper and lower continuous, pool-drop in middle
Put-in: USFS campground just off USFS road 29N06 from Platina, 1940'
Take-out: state highway 36 bridge, 1310'
Shuttle: 9 miles (30 minutes) one-way
Maps: USGS 7.5' Beegum, USFS Trinity NF, AAA Northern California
Season: winter or spring, after heavy rain or fast snowmelt
Agency: USFS, BLM
Notes: © 1999 Ron Rogers, e-mail Ron

This would be a classic wilderness run if it were not for two arduous portages and the limited season. Scenery is good and rapids are excellent.

If you are considering this run, first hike up the south side of Beegum Creek, as far as you can, from the highway 36 bridge, along an old ditch grade. If there is enough water, and you like the rapids you see, proceed on up towards Platina to the highway 36 intersection with Platina Road to Redding, and take the USFS road 29N06 to the south. Follow 29N06 up to the top of Noble Ridge to the Russian Orthodox monastery. The road past the monastery is never plowed, so if there is too much snow on the ground you will have to cancel the run.

Arn Terry, Jim Pepin, Larry Berg, Peter Gerrodette, Greg Hendrix, and Ron Rogers made this first descent on February 11, 1996 just after the road opened up for the season. We estimated our take-out flow at 600-800 cfs.

The first mile is brushy, continuous in gradient, with only very small eddies. This is the steepest segment, at an estimated 200 fpm. Here we cautiously made our way downstream and we did two quick portages. The South Fork Beegum Creek adds about 2/3rds more flow. The next 2 miles was fast paddling through some nice class III gorges. There is then several miles of pool-drop, with some big drops sprinkled in. We portaged twice on river left. One long portage was on steep, loose side-slope, around a very nasty, big waterfall with a huge reversal. This run is in a very steep walled canyon (hence the name Beegum Gorge on the map), with some dense, chamise chaparral-covered slopes. The riparian vegetation along the creek is lush and pristine. The last portage is about 2.5 miles from the take-out. Here a large flat boulder fills the canyon-bounded stream channel. The right chute is hopelessly jammed with logs and rocks. The left chute has a partially submerged log leaning from the left bank, 6 feet across into a small rock pile in front of the flat boulder. We all agreed we would be willing to run this left chute blind, if the log wasn't there. We couldn't even paddle down to the flat boulder to look beyond it because there was no place to stop and get out. With bitter resignation, we start the hardest portage of the day by roping our boats up the right wall, while subjecting the hapless boaters below to many rock showers. We scrambled along the right side, for perhaps a hundred yards, to where we can finally lower our kayaks back down. The last segment was very enjoyable and challenging with big rock gardens that are hard class IV and easy class V. During our last shore scout, we encountered the ditch grade trail above the take out, so we knew our challenging day was almost over.

In 1993, the BLM determined that this portion of Beegum Creek, from the USFS boundary down to highway 36, was eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.


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