American River South Fork below Kyburz


Stretch: below Indian Falls to Peavine Road
Difficulty: class IV (and maybe a class V)
Distance: 9.1 miles, 1 day
Flows: kayaks 700 - 3000 cfs, IK minimum 500
Gauge: flow measured upstream at Kyburz (AMK)
Gradient: 70 fpm average
Put-in: roadside turnoff below Indian Falls, 3590'
Take-out: end of Peavine Ridge Road, 2960'
Shuttle: 10 miles (15 minutes) one-way
Maps: Eldorado NF, AAA Lake Tahoe Region, Topo
Season: spring into early summer, from snowmelt
Agency: USFS, private
Notes: © 1998 Bill Tuthill, CreeksYahoo

This is one of the top 20 class IV runs in California, although in some years it contains a class V rapid, depending on recent landslide activity, common in this area. Wildfires, often set by burning cigarettes ejected by tourists, reduce the stability of steep wooded hillsides.

Previous guidebooks have always separated this run into two portions, and included four additional upstream miles in the first run. That is kind of silly, because the upstream stretch is more class V than class IV in nature, and would be better combined with portions of the Silver Fork. Also, the lower run in previous guidebooks is a too-short 3.5 miles. It is best to run the combined stretch recommended here.

Put in below Indian Falls (class VI) where a trail from the highway turnout leads down to the river. Steep rapids begin just around the bend.
Site of landslide, which was a long class V+ rapid at first, and gradually eroded away to more runnable individual rapids. This section still changes annually, so use your judgement.
Gradient eases to 55 fpm, and the rapids are less steep but still enjoyable, with many surfing spots.
Highway 50 bridge, possible take-out if you are running short on time, recommended take-out in previous guidebooks.
Potential brush hazards below the bridge.
Gradient steepens to 80 fpm, resulting in many long class IV boulder gardens from here to take-out.
Peavine Road angles down to the left bank. Difficult for rafts. Do not miss this take-out, because downstream is the very tough class V+ Golden Gate run.
To reach take-out, exit highway 50 at the easternmost Peavine exit. Drive east while the road changes to dirt and descends into a canyon (high clearance or 4WD might be required to get close to the river).

To reach put-in from there, return to highway 50 and drive uphill until you reach a parking turnout just before Sand Flat campground. If you get to Kyburz, you have gone too far.


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