Clear Creek above Whiskeytown reservoir


Stretch: Clear Creek Campground to Trinity Mountain Road
Difficulty: class IV, with 5 class V-VI rapids
Distance: 16 miles, 1 day
Flows: kayaks 300 - 600 cfs (or more), IK minimum 200
Gauge: none, as estimated at take-out
Gradient: 106 fpm average, steeper near beginning, less in lower section
Put-in: Clear Creek USFS Campground on Dog Creek Road, 3550'
Take-out: Trinity Mountain Road at N American Wilderness Academy (NAWA) 1650'
Shuttle: 20 miles (over 1 hour) one-way, roads to put-in closed for winter snow
Maps: USGS 7.5' Schell Mtn & Damnation Pk, USFS Shasta NF, AAA Northern California
Season: spring, after access roads open from snowmelt but before water drops
Agency: USFS, private
Notes: © 1999, 2002 Ron Rogers, e-mail Ron

Arn Terry first thought of doing upper-upper Clear Creek, starting at the Clear Creek USFS campground and paddling 16 miles down to the North American Wilderness Academy along Trinity Mountain Road. On March 4th 1995, after driving thru snow covering 3800' Trinity Summit pass, Arn, Jim Pepin, Larry Berg, and Ron Rogers put in and scraped down the upper portion of Clear Creek on perhaps 50 cfs.

Numerous side creeks gradually added a lot more water to this run. In the upper portion of the run, we encountered many big logs blocking the creek, most of which we could limbo under or skootch over in our boats. More water at the put-in would have been better, but negotiating the many downed trees would have been more problematic. The upper 12 miles are fairly steep class III-IV, with class V drops sprinkled in. All of the major drops are easy to spot and reasonable to portage. Most of us portaged 5 times, with 2 times being the group record. In one spot the entire creek drops down into a slot perhaps 3 feet wide and then over a 15 ft drop! [The 3rd class V.]

Two rock types influence the character of the rapids on this run. The Bragdon shale makes for continuous gradient and many small drops, while the Copley Greenstone causes a pool-drop type of gradient and causes all the big drops. The last 4.5 miles are class II to III, similar to the “Stop Rock” run below, which Arn disdains as flat water. This is real wilderness, with large expanses of forest cover and a long hike out to assistance or civilization.


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