||Big Bend to Redwood Flat
||Class II with one class II+
||9 miles, 1 day
||rafts 600 - 6000 cfs, IK minimum 300
||flow is measured at Leggett
||10 fpm average
||Big Bend cabins and fishing access, 810'
||Redwood Flat along highway highway 101, 720'
||11 miles (20 minutes) one-way
||Delorme N California, AAA Northern California,
||winter and spring, from recent rain
||© 1998, 2000, 2009 Bill Tuthill,
This easy stretch of the South Fork of the Eel
is quite beautiful for a river near a major highway.
The water remains green and relatively clear even after major rainstorms.
As a bonus, you can see a Yosemite-class waterfall.
If the Leggett gauge is not reporting, estimate 40% of the flow at Miranda.
- Put in at Big Bend Lodge.
In 2010 the put-in fee was $10 per person, or $25 per vehicle,
and shuttle service was available at the Lodge, both upriver and downriver.
Cottages with hot showers and kitchens are available at reasonable rates,
and include river access, a short carry over a gravel bar down to the river.
For reservations call 707-925-2440 or visit
- On the right, Grizzly Creek Falls plunges from a rocky plateau
almost 1000 feet into the river.
- Highway 1 bridge crosses overhead near the town of Leggett.
With steep banks and no significant beach, access is poor.
- Hazard! There is a persistent caved-in bank with downed trees
on the right side just before the bridge (2000).
- The river passes thru Standish Hickey State Park, where a low-water
bridge is installed in summertime, but not during boating season.
- Houses and satellite dishes appear on the right bank, and one of
the rapids in this section is steeper and requires more maneuvering
- Take out on the right at Redwood Flat, a large grove of redwoods
on a bench just above the river. A parking lot is supposed to be
available, although it was closed by flooding in 1998. There are
many other access points downstream; perhaps the best one is where
the river approaches highway 101 where a sidestream goes under a
concrete bridge. Between Redwood Flat and there, you encounter
a long and intricate boulder garden, which was my personal favorite
rapid on this run (December 1999).
- Zak Lieby sent this trip report about the next 12-13 miles:
“We paddled from Redwood Flat (Dora Creek) down to
Humboldt county line bridge [on March 28th 2009]. I thought
it was as much fun as the Leggett to Redwood Flat run.
There were a few decent rapids in there, maybe even a class II-III.
It was very scenic, with many little waterfalls and side creeks.
I was surprised! We saw no good intermediate access points.
The road was actually out of sight for most of the trip.
We had lunch under the 2nd new bridge. After lunch we thought
it got busier for a while including a couple II+ rapids. Then
it mellowed out until the final II-III a few miles before take-out.
There was one portage around a low water bridge kinda near the end.
I will definitely boat this stretch again!”
To reach take-out, drive about 4 miles north of Standish Hickey State Park
to where the road descends to near the river. There is a parking lot
near a large stand of redwood trees, called Redwood Flat, part of Smithe
Redwoods State Reserve.
To reach put-in, drive south of Leggett to the top of the hill, and exit
on the parallel sideroad (sometimes called Drive-Thru Tree Road, once
known as highway 271). Drive south on this windy road until you see a
small sign on the right saying Big Bend. Bear right and descend on this
rock-strewn dirt road to the river.
To reach the Humboldt county line bridge from on highway 101, take the
Cooks Valley exit and park at the green bridge in the south side pullout.
Map of Rivers