Yuba River Middle Fork Plumbago Run


Stretch: Plumbago Crossing to Our House Dam
Difficulty: class IV+ with 4 portages, class V above 1200 cfs
Distance: 13.5 miles, 1 day
Flows: kayaks and small rafts 600 - 2000, IK minimum 400
Gauge: somewhat more than release from Our House Dam (ORH)
Gradient: 75 fpm average
Put-in: left bank below bridge at Plumbago Crossing, 2970'
Take-out: right bank of small reservoir above Our House Dam, 1958'
Shuttle: 30 miles (over an hour) one-way, partly on dirt road
Maps: USFS Tahoe NF, AAA Feather and Yuba Region
Season: near-peak spring runoff, from diversion-reduced snowmelt
Agency: USFS
Notes: © 1998 Bill Tuthill, CreeksYahoo

But for the 4th portage, this run would be a classic. It contains a plethora of the class III-IV stuff that whitewater boaters enjoy. 4WD (or mud chains) recommended for the put-in road. Although it is hard to catch because of upstream diversions, there should be a short spring window almost every year. The flow measured at Our House Dam (ORH) represents outflow to the river; up to 600 cfs can be diverted at the dam to Bullard's Bar reservoir, so inflows could be as much as 600 cfs higher.

This run is described in the Holbek/Stanley book, but this writeup should make it easier for people to find the put-in and have a manageable day's boating. Holbek boated all the way to highway 49, which is not a good idea, because flows are skimpy after Our House Dam removes up to 600 cfs from the river. The class III-IV section from Our House Dam to highway 49 requires recent rain or peak snowmelt.

0-1     class III-IV rapids
1-3     class II-III rapids
3.0     portage? class V ledge drop (runnable in center?)
3-5     class III-IV rapids
5.0     Portage! class VI falls on R
5.1     runnable class IV on L, avoid class VI on R
5.2     Portage! class VI falls on R
5.4     Portage! class IV lead-in and class VI jumble
to 9    class III-IV+ rapids (perhaps other IV+s exist)
6?      IV+ big drop followed by left curve
7?      IV+ grabby falls with big rock way below
8?      IV+ bedrock steps ending in falls
9?      IV+ chute on R with wrap rock
9.1     Kanaka creek enters on R
10.5    Foote Crossing bridge (dirt road back to Allegheny)
to 13   two class IVs, then class II-III
13.5    take out above Our House Dam
The 4th portage is the longest, requiring a carry around a class IV lead-in to a class VI boulder jumble on the right. Perhaps you could find an exit route on the left, set safety, and run the lead-in rapid. That would make this run less strenuous and more fun.

To reach take-out, drive north from Nevada City on highway 49, crossing the south and middle forks of the Yuba. Turn right on Allegheny (Ridge) Road, and proceed just over 6 miles to the hamlet of Pike. Immediately uphill, turn right onto a paved (open-gate) road, which descends steeply to Our House Dam. Take-out flow is about 150% of put-in flow.

To reach put-in, return to Allegheny (Ridge) Road, and drive many miles to the hamlet of Allegheny. Just past town, before an uphill, turn right onto an unmarked road with “No snow removal” sign. At the first fork, go right downhill and cross a creek. Going uphill again, take a right at the first hairpin turn, and proceed up a steep muddy hill. In a flat spot, bear left on an OHV trail. Upon reaching Lafayette Ridge, take the 3rd right (immediately after the 2nd right), marked “German Bar 5 miles” (there is no indication anywhere that this is Plumbago Road). Pass a ranch then a mine (both on the left) while descending. Cross the bridge, then park along the river.


 Creeks Navigation

 Recommended Runs
 Map of Rivers
 Alphabetic Index
 Alphabetic Table
 Text Search

 Sponsored Links