Bear Creek below Hwy 44 near Redding


Stretch: State Highway 44 to Dersch Road
Difficulty: Class III with two class IV rapids
Distance: 5.1 miles, half day
Flows: kayaks 200 - 800 (?) cfs
Gauge: as estimated at take-out (from BAT)
Gradient: 52 fpm average, fairly continuous, with last mile pool-drop
Put-in: State Highway 44 bridge, 720'
Take-out: Dersch Road (Shasta County) bridge, 455'
Shuttle: 11 miles (20 minutes) one-way
Maps: USGS 7.5' Inwood, Clough Gulch, Palo Cedro, Balls Ferry; AAA Northern California
Season: winter and spring, from snowmelt or recent rain
Agency: private
Notes: © 2003 Ron Rogers, e-mail Ron

This stretch of Bear Creek is very easy to get to and entertaining enough to paddle if you are just passing thru Redding or don't want to drive far out of town and into the snow. The first 4 miles of this run slices thru some of the ancient volcanic mud flows (lahars) derived from the Lassen Peak area. This section is fairly continuous class II-III, with multiple sections of rocky, shallow, braided channels along with some moving flat water. Some of the shallows are moderately brushy. At low flows, portions of this section have more of a class III feeling due to the extra maneuvering required. Higher flows turn this section into a cleaner, more washed-out class II.

Eventually, the creek enters a more resistant layer of basalt lava rock and the character of the river bed becomes class III pool-drop. The first car-sized boulder pile you encounter marks the first class IV rapid of the day. It can be boat-scouted at least at lower flows. The right-to-left route thru the drop takes you into a hole to the left of the largest boulder. Much of the water flows into and thru the boulder pile on the right. Higher flows open up more of a straight shot on the river left. A short distance downstream, an old metal flume is encountered on the left bank and signals the beginning of the last class IV rapid. As I recall, the initial entry is via a low boof off a rock just to the left of a boulder, followed by a short slalom thru a boulder garden.

The take-out is across the creek from site of the historic Dersch homestead, now a private residence. The landowner has stated that he does not want boaters to use his property. Depending on the blackberry vine density, the take-out is on river right at either the old or the adjacent new county road bridges.

To reach the put-in from the take-out, travel west on Dersch Road towards Redding for approximately 3 miles. Turn north on Millville Plains Road and follow it until in intersects State Highway 44. Turn east and go about 3.5 miles to where it drops down into the canyon and crosses Bear Creek.

Below Dersch Road, the last 5.5 miles of Bear Creek down to the Sacramento River confluence is a rather flat, mundane 17 feet per mile.


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