Mokelumne South Fork


Stretch: Along a dirt road to some highway bridge
Difficulty: Class IV with 1 portage
Distance: about 9 miles, 1 day
Flows: kayaks 200 - 500 cfs or higher
Gauge: flow information not available
Gradient: 70 fpm average, fairly continuous
Put-in: along a dirt road, 3000'
Take-out: underneath a highway bridge, 2370'
Shuttle: 15 miles (.5 hour) one-way
Maps: USFS, AAA, Topo
Season: April and May, from snowmelt
Agency: private, USFS, BLM
Notes: © 1998 Bill Tuthill, CreeksYahoo

Some days I think, “this sport of inflatable kayaking is so much fun it should be illegal!” After hours of threading slaloms and lining up to run narrow waterfalls in the warm sun, this was one of those days. Of course governments try to wring excess access fees from your wallet, and landowners do what they can to make river running appear illegal, but fortunately we live in a place with expansive navigation laws.

This is an extremely fine run somewhere in California. There may or may not be a gated road to put-in, so a hike in may or may not be necessary. The take-out is diligently posted with No Trespassing signs but there is a wide right-of-way and the local Sheriff doesn't seem to care. This run isn't publicized at this time because of access questions at put-in.

The whitewater is what will bring you back to this run, not the scenery, which is clearcut and burned in places, normal forest in other places, and developed with houses in spots. Class III and IV rapids are interspersed throughout the run. There is one portage around a potentially runnable diversion dam. One rapid in the lower section verges on class V, especially at higher flows.

Put in on the dirt road in or near USFS land. The other side of the creek is definitely public land.
Log Ride, class IV
South Fork Mokelumne River CA Steep drop created by a submerged log
Foto Phalls, class IV
South Fork Mokelumne River CA A sharp drop, but not too dangerous
Diversion Dam, portage?
South Fork Mokelumne River CA Contemplating whether to run this mess
New Scary, class IV+ or V-
Multiple submerged rocks and potential underwater tunnels make you wonder just how dangerous this one is. Easy portage on the left.
South Fork Mokelumne River CA Following tongue near recirculating hole
Brace Right, class IV
South Fork Mokelumne River CA South Fork Mokelumne River CA
Scott underestimates force of the brace required, and almost tips! After nearly falling out of his boat, he recovers miraculously
Take out under the highway bridge, in the public right-of-way.
To find put-in, scour your maps for an unknown fork of a well-known river. Avoid conflicts with landowners. Take out at the second highway bridge.


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