Camp Creek tributary of N Fork Cosumnes


Stretch: Fleming Meadows trailhead to Happy Valley Road
Difficulty: Class IV+ with strenuous portages
Distance: 10.1 miles, 1 long day
Flows: kayaks 200 - 400 cfs
Gauge: flow as measured near Somerset (USGS site)
Gradient: 113 fpm average, steeper near the end
Put-in: End of trail from Fleming Meadows, 3120'
Take-out: Happy Valley Road bridge, 1880'
Shuttle: 20 miles (30 minutes) one-way, plus 1.7 mile hike down
Maps: Delorme N California, AAA Lake Tahoe Region, Topo
Season: Late winter or early spring, from snowmelt
Agency: USFS, private
Notes: © 2003 Bill Tuthill, CreeksYahoo

This run has a reputation of being one of the best class IV runs in California, but with a very short or sometimes nonexistent flow window. However its reputation has been tarnished in recent years by the presence of new wooden features in the streambed: in 2003 at least 12 portages around trees were required, in addition to 4-6 other portages required by rocks. One of the required portages seems very long and difficult for a class IV run! Not to mention the hike down to put-in. Until a flood or saw-bearing human removes some downed trees, and/or somebody figures out a strategy to simplify the long portage, this run might not make the top 20 list. Nonetheless it's worth doing at least once.

It is possible to put in upstream on a road and avoid the hike-in altogether, but Camp Creek is steep in the approximately 6 miles to the standard put-in, and probably contains many logjams. If you have boated or hiked this section, please contact me. The road-based put-in would be south on Capps Crossing Road, after crossing Stonebreaker Creek.

The adventure begins in the trailhead parking lot near Fleming Meadows, south of Jenkinson Reservoir on Sly Park Creek. Your 1.7 mile downhill hike starts on a gated dirt road that slants left from the beginning of the parking lot. Check the trailhead map for details, despite its imprecise mileages, before carrying your boat down the gated dirt road. Where the road forks after .3 mile, go straight. In another .4 mile and after the forest thickens, where the dirt road goes slightly uphill, a trail marked 8B forks to the right. That is the only path from that point to the Camp Creek, 1 mile downhill. This old road is overgrown but offers plenty of clearance for your kayak.

This section of creek, starting where a gauging station is marked on the topo map, although we did not see it, alternates between gently flowing pools and steep drops. Many of the drops contain lumber, and trees sometimes span the creek in pools between.
Creek that the hike-down trail followed enters on the right. Pace of rapids gradually increases, with many class IV drops.
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Darren in corkscrew drop, Chris upstream Chris ski jumps one of the early drops
Small creek enters on the right.
Sly Park Creek enters very obviously on the right, below a spot where Camp Creek splits around an island. There were about 12 tree portages above Sly Park Creek confluence, but far fewer below (2003). Despite the addition of water, flow did not seem to increase much.
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Nice scenery below Sly Park confluence Easy portaging around diversion dam
Diversion dam with bad backwash, portage or possibly run on the left. A tunnel exits from the right side of the dam, but does not appear to be diverting any water nowadays.
Dirt road approaches creek on the right bank, possible emergency take-out across private land, hopefully with permission.
House along river. Residents were friendly on our 2003 trip and did not seem surprised to see us. Good rapids continue and intensify. One or two may require portaging at certain levels.
A nice section with few logs and fun bedrock drops.
Camp Creek CA Camp Creek CA
Reminded us of Middle Fork Cosumnes We portaged this due to log, then regretted it
Portage! Seemingly impassible boulder-laced bedrock rapid can be portaged most easily on the right. Below the worst section, a poison-oak laced trail descends to a precarious put-in. Due to a rocky waterfall at the end of the next visible section, some kayakers end up portaging again thru poison oak on the left bank, although the waterfall might be runnable at certain flows.
Siphon pipe of North Fork Extension Ditch descends the left bank and, more obviously, ascends the right bank. After this point the streambed steepens and becomes a portage-fest of sorts.
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Chris: Boof or ski jump? You decide! Water disappears under rocks of Hangout Falls
Local Hangout Falls, with natural granite arch, seemed unrunnable at low flows. Easy portage on the right. From here it's easiest to continue portaging on the access trail used by locals.
Bulldozer Falls, with unnatural rusted metal accouterments, looks very dangerous, maybe even without the eponymous bulldozer. A side trail descends to a good launch spot below the falls.
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Bulldozer Falls from the trail above Bulldozer Falls from the put-in below
Happy Valley road bridge high overhead. You might miss it if you are wearing a visor and fail to look up. Similar rocky drops continue to the confluence with the North Fork Cosumnes, which then flattens out to the Mount Aukum Road bridge.

To reach take-out, drive highway 50 to the Missouri Flat exit, proceed south, turn left at the T onto Pleasant Valley Road, and continue past Bucks Bar Road (stop sign) to the town of Pleasant Valley. Coming from the east on highway 50, there are various shortcuts to this point. Turn right onto Mount Aukum Road, at the Holiday Market, and drive about 2 miles downhill. Make a sharp left turn onto Happy Valley Cut-off Road, and descend to a narrow bridge across Camp Creek.

To reach put-in from there, return to Mount Aukum Road, turn right, and drive back uphill. Where you turned at Pleasant Valley, take a right onto Sly Park Road. Continue about 5 miles east until you see Jenkinson Reservoir, turn right only Mormon-Emigrant Trail, and cross the dam. You might want to check flows of spill into Sly Park Creek. On the far side of the reservoir, turn onto the first obvious road to the right, which leads to the Fleming Meadow trailhead. Its green-bar gate may be locked; if open it will save some hiking.


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