East Fork of the Carson Beta

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California, USA

East Fork of the Carson River

The East Fork of the Carson River flows from scenic Markleeville, CA, winding its way through Leviathan Canyon, and passing several camps on its journey to Gardnerville, NV. It’s one of the best ways to cross into Nevada from California. The rapids are approachable to most boaters, with one Class III known as Sidewinder about halfway through the 18-mile run. There is excellent fishing along this river as well as hot springs, making for a great single-day or multi-day trip.

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Hangman’s Run

The Hangman’s Run stretches from Hangman’s Bridge near Markleeville, CA and ends up near Gardnerville at the Ruhenstroth Dam (also known as the Broken Dam). The 19 mile stretch winds through consistent Class II rapids, with one Class III rapid known as Sidewinder Rapid in the middle of the run. It’s a great time for boaters of all skill levels.

Mile 0 – Hangman’s Bridge Put-in:

River right. The Put-In for most boaters is at Hangman’s Bridge. There is a pit toilet, and an easy acess to the trail. You can Put-In above here for Class III action, but note that shuttle services probably won’t operate above Hangman’s Bridge.

Mile 0.03 – hangman’s Rapid:

Class II. Right below the put-in is a Class II rapid with current pushing toward the cliff on the right. Stay left in this read-and-run rapid, you will encounter many read-and-run rapids on the East Fork of the Carson, be vigilant.

Mile 1.51 – Markleeville Creek Confluence:

River Left. Markleeville Creek enters the East Fork of the Carson from the left-hand side adding a good amount of water. This picturesque creek flows through the heart of Markleeville.

Mile 7.94 – Above Sidewinder Camp:

River Right. The river makes a sharp right. On the inside of this bend is an excellent camp, which can be less busy during the summer months. There are nice hot springs on the left side of the river. Just downstream lies Sidewinder Rapid.

Mile 8.55 – Barney Campground:

River Left. Camping is possible at the Hot Springs, which can be very busy during the warmer months.

Mile 8.55 – Barney Hot Springs:

River Left. There are several hot springs on the left side of the river a little bit downstream of Sidewinder Rapid.

Mile 10.61 – Nevada State Line:

Welcome to Nevada. It’s hard to tell from the river, but you just entered Nevada.

Mile 11.3 – Nevada Lunch Spot:

River Right. The river makes a quick S-turn, and on the right side is a nice rock below a pool, which can be a nice swimming hole/break spot for the last half of your trip.

Mile 11.78 – Wrapper’s Rock Rapid:

Class II+. Stay alert here, there are boulders everywhere, especially at lower flows. A lot of current pushes towards a boulder in the center. Staying right keeps you away from this boulder, which has been known to wrap the overconfident boater.

Mile 11.83 – Bryant Creek Confluence:

River Right. The creator of Wrapper’s Rock Rapid is Bryant Creek, which enters from the right side. It is not advised to collect water from this point on, as there is a former Sulphur mine that drains into this creek, which has caused trace heavy metals to be detected in the East Fork of the Carson River.

Mile 14.95 – Rock Garden Rapid:

Class II. This slow-moving rapid has many boulders throughout it over the course of a hundred yards or so. Slow-moving water allows you to pick numerous lines. Downstream lies Horseshoe Bend, which is hard to discern from river level, but the river makes a sweeping right turn.

Mile 19.07 – Graffiti Marks:

River Right. High on the cliffs on the right side, there is graffiti. While we don’t condone graffiti in any way, this graffiti is an excellent indicator of downstream take-out, which will be on your right.

Mile 19.24 – Washoe Road River Access:

River Right. Welcome to Nevada. Take-out is on the right-hand side, with a short walk to your vehicle. A good marker is graffiti on the cliffs on the right side. Just downstream is a dam, with a Class V+ rapid on the right side. This can be scouted from a cliff on the take-out. Most people don’t run this rapid.