Trinity River below Douglas City


Stretch: Douglas City BLM Campground to above Junction City
Difficulty: Class I with some II- (and snag hazards)
Distance: 11.1 miles, 1 day
Flows: canoes and kayaks 300 - 1200 cfs
Gauge: flow measured near Douglas City (DGC)
Gradient: 9 fpm average, but moves quite well
Put-in: BLM campground or bridge at Douglas City, 1610'
Take-out: side road at Oregon Gulch or Junction City bridge, 1510'
Shuttle: 17 miles (30 minutes) one-way
Maps: USFS Trinity NF, AAA North California, nice PDF map, Topo
Season: year round, from dam release and snowmelt
Agency: BLM, private, USFS
Notes: © 1998, 2012 Bill Tuthill, CreeksYahoo

This is one of the most scenic beginner runs in California, and would be more popular if it were closer to population centers. For the middle third of the trip there is no road anywhere near the river, and even in its upper and lower thirds, the river corridor retains a nice wilderness feel. Trout fishing is good, and salmon and steelhead runs occur at certain times of the year. Although gold was first discovered along the Trinity just above Reading Creek in Douglas City (then called Kanaka Bar), this section is not as devastated by hydraulic mining as the section from Junction City to the North Fork.

Here is the latest Flow Release Schedule for Lewiston Dam. At low flows, some rapids become rockier and more technical. At high flows, watch out for down trees and brush along the banks.

The Douglas City BLM campground is superb, with flush toilets and spacious campsites among tall trees. Primitive camping is also available along the right bank downstream of put-in. The lumbering and resort town of Weaverville is along your shuttle route, and offers good restaurants and motels for those not inclined to camp.

Above this run, the Trinity is runnable class I-II all the way from Lewiston to Douglas City campground, and very scenic. Also nearby, upper Indian Creek (a tributary just above put-in) has a fine class IV+ run with many sweet bedrock drops. It sometimes reaches 150 cfs in spring, the minimum level recommended for kayaking.

Put in at the beach just downhill from the picnic parking area. Downstream, the river curves left around a ridged peninsula. A generally unobtrusive road follows the right bank, offering fishing access to the upper stretch.
Trinity River below Douglas City Trinity River below Douglas City
Rapidette just above put-in  Rock outcropping below put-in
Alcove beach and good jumping rock on the right. Photographs by Sarah Tuthall.
Trinity River below Douglas City Trinity River below Douglas City
In cartoons, gravity has a delayed effect  Snags (trees in current) are the principal hazard
Last houses of Steiner Flat on the right, where the road ends.
Trinity River below Douglas City Trinity River below Douglas City
Typical whitewater at moderate flow  Midstream rocks may require maneuvering 
Browns Creek enters on the left. The gradient starts to taper off. Shortly downstream is a large rock outcropping on the right bank.
The left bank is Trinity National Forest from here to take-out, with occasional pockets of private land.
Maxwell Creek enters on the left. Downstream is a sharp ridge on the right called Johnson's Point.
Dutch Creek enters on the left. From this point a road follows the left bank, usually well away from the river. Road access is made difficult by brush and blackberry brambles.
If you choose the right channel around a low island, the take-out carry will be easier.
Oregon Gulch creek enters on the right. Carry up the creek to near the road embankment, then turn right onto a trail hacked thru blackberry brambles.
Trinity River below Douglas City Trinity River below Douglas City
Good scenery in the wilderness section  The Trinity downstream of Oregon Gulch
Bridge of Junction City, with dirt road access down to river level on the right bank. Dutch Creek Road intersects this road on the left bank. The USFS buildings on highway 299 are .5 mile uphill. The confluence with Canyon Creek is another .5 mile downstream.
Not far downstream, after an easy section along the road, below the North Fork confluence, lies the excellent class III Trinity below Pigeon Point run.

Shuttle Directions

To reach take-out, drive west from Redding on highway 299 about 57 miles to the sign at the edge of Junction City. Turn sharp left onto Sky Ranch Road and drive .6 mile. Just after crossing Oregon Gulch creek there is a dirt turnout with a trail descending to the creek and then the river.

To reach put-in from there, return uphill to Weaverville and downhill to the Douglas City turnoff. Just past the general store and a motel, turn right onto an unmarked paved road. Soon, take the left fork, not the right fork to the local school. At the top of the first hill, turn left and descend steeply to the BLM campground. The best river access is at the downstream end of the campground.

It might be possible to pre-arrange a shuttle by contacting the Douglas City general store, 530-623-6376. They can give you the phone number of a shuttle driver.


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