Little Sulphur Creek near Cloverdale


Stretch: Geyserville Road to Big Sulphur confluence
Difficulty: Class V (with about 8 portages)
Distance: 11 miles, 1 long day
Flows: kayaks 200 - 500 cfs
Gauge: 15% of Big Sulphur Creek at the Geysers
Gradient: 111 fpm average (70, 200, 190, 140, 80, 150, 95, 150, 60, 45, 40)
Put-in: on L above Healdsburg-Geyserville road bridge, 1860'
Take-out: R bank of Big Sulphur Creek below confluence, 640'
Shuttle: 14 slow miles one-way, commando put-in recommended
Maps: Delorme N CA, AAA Sonoma and Mendocino
Season: Winter, from major rainfall
Agency: private
Notes: © 1998 Bill Tuthill, CreeksYahoo

This is one of the most demanding and difficult kayak runs in the guidebooks, although amazing scenery and intense whitewater make it all worthwhile. Because days are short when this creek is running, make sure to start at dawn, and keep moving without taking undue risks that could delay your party and force a bivouac. Portages occur mostly in the steep sections, although one of the most hazardous (a funnel-like deathtrap) occurs after the river opens up around mile 5. Difficult falls in the final horseshoe bend forced kayakers doing the first descent to bivouac; for the full story, see the Holbek & Stanley guidebook.

To reach take-out, exit 101 about a mile north of Cloverdale and take Geysers Road eastward. Keep an eye peeled for where Little Sulphur comes in across the valley, and park in a turnout near the confluence. The take-out is across private property, but away from habitation; given the small number of boaters qualified to make this run, you are unlikely to be hassled as darkness approaches or shortly after dark, as often happens.

To reach put-in, continue towards the Geysers, over an iron bridge, to the intersection with Healdsburg-Geyserville road. Turn right and proceed 5.5 miles to the bridge across Little Sulphur creek. Try to avoid parking near the put-in bridge, which draws attention and may incur the wrath of the local landowner, although put-in is totally legal given prescriptive right-of-way at the bridge.


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