Cottonwood Creek Middle Fork Upper Run


Stretch: Platina (or Knob Gulch confluence) to Platina Road bridge
Difficulty: class IV (easier until Knob Gulch)
Distance: 11.1 (or 7.5) miles, 1 day
Flows: kayaks 100 - 400 (?) cfs
Gauge: for put-in estimate 10% of flow near Cottonwood (COT)
Gradient: 97 fpm (99 fpm) average, flatter until Knob Gulch
Put-in: near Platina on highway 36, 2230' (or at Knob Gulch, 1890')
Take-out: Platina (county road A16) bridge, 1150'
Shuttle: 10 miles (20 minutes) one-way, or 14 miles (45 minutes) to Knob Gulch
Maps: USGS 7.5' Beegum & Chanchelulla Peak, USFS Trinity NF, AAA Northern California
Season: winter or spring, after heavy rain or fast snowmelt
Agency: BLM, private
Notes: © 1999 Ron Rogers, e-mail Ron

The private road leading northward from Platina to the Arbuckle Hydroelectric project, just below Knob Gulch, was open when Jim Pepin, Arn Terry and Ron Rogers made our first descent on June 5th 1993. Consequently, we skipped the upper section from Platina down to Knob Gulch due to low water (50 cfs) and, from road scouting, what looked like rather mundane fast moving water.

We put in at the Knob Gulch confluence and paddled about .25 mile to the Arbuckle Hydro project. A 100 yard portage down the road brings you to the best portion of this run. This lower stretch contains some steep, rocky, challenging rapids with a few blind turns. We managed to boat scout everything on this challenging, technical run. This is a wilderness-type run in thick riparian canopy for most of the run. The scenery was marred only by some cattle-trampled, crisscrossed trails down to the creek in the open, grassy, oak woodlands closer to the take-out.

On two separate occasions, we paddled very close to and completely surprised black bears poking along next to the creek. When we did this run, there was a lot of brush and tree hazards in and along the creek. More water would mean cleaner runs over the rocks, but would put you more into the trees. My impression of this run was that advanced IKers would like it the best. High flows since 1993 have probably cleaned this run up a bit.

In 1993, the BLM determined that this portion of Middle Fork Cottonwood Creek was eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.


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