Cache Creek


 Gage Notes
 At Rumsey Bridge Gauge, for very low flows
 At Rumsey Bridge Calculated, for high flows
 Release from Indian Valley Reservoir For the first portion of the Wilderness Run

Scouting Report from Bill W

April 16, 2011

I drove up to Cache Creek yesterday.  It took 2 hours from San Rafael, up 505 from Vacaville. This is a good alternative to the South Fork of the American River for weak groups.  It's too narrow for stern frames.

It's dropped dramatically and is flowing at 1200.  As such, it's a moderate Class II run and only six miles long.  There's one potentially troublesome rapid for rafts as you approach the campground where the river splits, at river mile 1 or so.  The left might be runnable and the right channel has several rocks to dodge.  You can scout from the campground.

This is a good run for IKs.

The road to the low bridge (about two feet above the river) is permanently closed.  It's a short portage to get past: take out on the left before the bridge and carry the rafts across it.  Just past the highway 16 bridge (river mile 4.7) comes Rowboat Rapid, a Class III with a wrap rock at the bottom.  Go right of it.

Take out on the right at Haswell - an old Boy Scout camp.  Check it out during the shuttle; it's hard to spot from the river because it's the inside of a bend and the parking lot is hidden by trees.  Recognition is the various features on the left bank.

With enough trucks, you could easily run Cache Creek twice in a day.

Camp sites hold 8 people and are $ 20 a site.  The group sites, which you can reserve at (530) 666-8115 are $ 165.00 - less than Lotus but more expensive than individual sites.  On summer weekends, the campground fills up by Friday night, so send someone up mid-day Friday to get sites or reserve a group site. 

The group sites are on a big lawn and each site only has one tree.  You'll need shade so be prepared to fly tarps or wings from oars or poles.  The nights are about as noisy as Lotus.

I created a map here:,-122.539959&spn=0.00658,0.00825&t=h&z=17

Supplementary Information from Derrick W

April 17, 2011

Awesome scouting trip Bill!
To clarify, if you haven't see this river yet...
At Rowboat Rapid (after crossing under the highway), there is a reed island (you can see in the pic.)  Run the LEFT side of the island, on the right side of the flow, as close as you can to the reed island. That is the deepest and safest route.  Do not run right of the reed island, as it deltas out into a 100-foot wide strainer, for which escape may be desired but not granted.
For the Low Bridge (portage) :
Portage on the left. Make dang sure you don't take the rafts near the bridge.  After putting in on the other side (watch for exposed steel), run the next rapid ON THE LEFT.  The right is runnable, but tricky.    As soon as Yolo County gets the funds, they will dynamite this bridge, which serves as a death-hydraulic when the river floods.
Personally, I love running groups on Cache Creek.  The river has solitude, even though you are steps from Highway 16.  The rapids are fun for a younger group that does not have whitewater experience.  The flow is consistent.  Put-in and takeout are reasonably easy. Camping is cheap.  Bald Eagles are a common sight, and the geology is amazing (subducted sedimentary rock formations abound.) 
You can even do a long, long, long wilderness run on a Saturday, running the upper Wild and Scenic section that starts on the North Fork Cache Creek, taking out at the campground or the put-in for the normal run.  (start early)

Trip Report from Bill W

May 17, 2011

The flow this weekend was 750 on the Rumsey gauge - an average flow for the summer.  (It's dropped today because of the rain; the water is controlled by the irrigation district.)  The run was fast, bony and fun.  It was fast because there's a significant gradient on the run, so The Creek seems like the Carson, but with bigger eddies if you need them.  There are lots of sneaky sleepers to avoid, so sharp bow paddlers and a good strong pivot are helpful.  However, the 750 CFS is more than adequate to get you down the creek.  If you're ambitious and can carry the inflated rafts, multiple runs are easy because the shuttle is only 20 minutes each way.

We put on at the Colusa County line, about 1/2 mile upstream from the Upper Park Unit, which is the commercial put-in and crowded most hot weekends.  There's a turn-out with a gate and a 150 yard carry to the water.  Next time I'd pump the rafts just on the other side of the gate and then carry them down inflated.  We left the rafts soft, which helps keep them from getting perched on those darn sleepers.  Putting on at the county line adds two rapids.  There's parking all along the highway there.

The run took 2 hours without any stops.  We just blasted down the river.  There are two rapids where the river splits and the route choice is not obvious.  The first is Camp, because it's just upstream of the campground.  Recognition is a thick cable across the river.  Go right here.  The second (Joe's Nemesis, AKA Widowmaker) is just downstream of the portage.  Go left.  There's a very good mile-by-mile guide at California Creeks:

During shuttle, when you drop the cars off at the Boy Scout take out, notice the broad valley, river right and be sure to walk down to scout the take-out.  It's a little landing in the middle of trees and easy to miss.  From the river, look for the canyon to open up on river right.  If you look hard, you can see the parked vehicles and the building's roof through the trees.

There's no cell service in the canyon, but there's a call box just before you get to the yellow steel gates they use to close the highway as it enters the canyon.  It's a mile or so downstream from the Boy Scout take-out.  If you stand next to the call box, you get service.

In case of emergencies, the campground host has a radio that communicates with the CHP and Yolo sheriff.  Woodland Memorial Hospital is the closest 24 hour trauma center.  A rig can be at the campground within 30 minutes. 

In 2011 the campground host, who is a cowboy singer/songwriter, puts on a concert at his trailer every Friday and Saturday at 8 PM.

I strongly suggest that we run more trips on Cache Creek, especially with groups that would otherwise be cancelled due to high water on the South Fork of the American River.  All of the guides who were new to The Creek said how surprised they were by its closeness and how much fun it is to run.

Additional Resources

Bill W's Pictures

Bill W's River Map