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Lower Klamath2021-02-24T18:00:43-08:00

Lower Klamath

The lions share of whitewater runs in California are intermediate to advanced one day trips. For total beginners or young families looking for an overnight or multi-day, there simply isn’t much, and depending on the season, sometimes nothing at all. The Lower Klamath bucks the trend with miles of beginner whitewater.

About this guide

Due to excellent access, there are a number of different runs on the Lower Klamath. This guide outlines Happy Camp to Coon Creek and Coon Creek to Green Riffle, two of the more popular stretches.

River Info

Happy Camp to Coon Creek is a great mix of floating and Class II and III whitewater, with the exception of Dragon’s Tooth, a Class IV. If you plan on running this rapid it is recommended that you scout. There are also takeout options located up river from it which would allow you to cut it out entirely by making the trip shorter.

Coon Creek to Green Riffle is a milder section compared to Happy Camp down and has many large, calm pools and the occasional Class II rapid.

Safety

The Lower Klamath is a beginner to intermediate run. While this is considered a fairly mild river, there are still plenty of opportunities to flip, wrap or swim. As a private boater, make sure you join a party that has recent Lower Klamath experience.

Permits

You are not required to have a permit for a private rafting trip. You may be required to have a campfire permit though if you plan on camping.

Karuk Tribe & River Closures

The Karuk tribe is the second largest Native American tribe in California. Throughout the summer, they hold World Renewal Ceremonies along the Klamath which are highly private, sacred events. The USFS will close access points over the course of these events. For information regarding these closures visit this page.

The Lower Klamath has a large flow range, with it being runnable in a 14′ raft from 1,500 – 15,000 CFS. Below this, take something smaller. Above 15,000 is not generally recommended.

Lower Kern River Flow
Gauge data provided by Dream Flows

Based in Southern Oregon, Indigo Creek Outfitters runs three day trips on the Lower Klamath. In addition to that, they operate on the Upper Klamath and Rogue River.

Click here to learn more.

Lower Klamath River Map & Guide

WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment. Go with someone with recent Lower Klamath experience.

Class II Rapid

Class II rapid or river feature.

Class III Rapid

Class III rapid or river feature.

Class IV Rapid

Class IV rapid or river feature.

Put-In / Take-Out

The most commonly used access points.

Point of Interest

These include creeks and sidestops.

Campgrounds

Riverside camping locations.

Happy Camp to Coon Creek – Class II, III & IV

This is probably the most popular Lower Klamath section. The shuttle is easy, the rafting is fun, and the camping is spectacular. Top to bottom this section is done as a one or two day, however, there is plenty of access allowing you to start above the put in or continue through the takeout for many miles.

Length

Happy Camp to Coon Creek is 17.86 miles.

Difficulty

Beginner to Moderate.

Feet per Mile

Happy Camp to Coon Creek is 13 FPM

Shuttle Time

Put in to takeout is 45 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 0.00 – Indian Creek Put-in: 41.78985, -123.37961 River Right. This is the most popular and best put-in for this section. It’s located just downstream of the bridge at the confluence of Indian Creek and the Lower Klamath on a large gravel bar. Click here for a detailed description.

Mile 0.40 – Happy Camp Rapid: 41.78719, -123.38607 Class II. Welcome to the Lower Klamath. Read and run, small wave train.

Mile 0.75 – Curly Jack Campground: 41.78564, -123.39124 River Left. This is a large campground that can provide great pre-trip camping for those organizing a multi-day rafting trip with parties coming from all over.

Mile 0.75 – Curly Jack Put-in: 41.786, -123.39181 River Left. If you’re camping at Curly Jack campground you might be interested in using this put-in.

Mile 1.86 – Wounded Knee: 41.77176, -123.39894 Class II. Read and run with a wave in the bottom center of the rapid.

Mile 3.88 – Rattlesnake Rapid: 41.75003, -123.40004 Class III. First challenging rapid of the run. Pay attention to the large pour-overs in the center. Run left of all of them or you can take a more exciting line to the right.

Mile 4.34 – Devil’s Toenail: 41.74407, -123.40227 Class III. Nasty rocks are located on the right, run left to avoid them.

Mile 5.00 – Mix Master: 41.73802, -123.41154 Class II. Read and run.

Mile 5.22 – Funnel Rapid: 41.73618, -123.41545 Class III. The river constricts slightly from a rock shelf coming off of the left bank. This is a read and run wave train.

Mile 5.33 – Trench Rapid: 41.7351, -123.41708 Class III. Avoid the rock located at the top of the rapid on the left and then pay attention to the wall on bottom right.

Mile 6.96 – Wingate Take Out: 41.72254, -123.43703 River Right. Vault toilets are available during the summer months.

Mile 7.00 – Wingate Rapid: 41.72169, -123.43711 Class II. Read and run with a hole / exposed rock on the left.

Mile 7.82 – Upper Surfers Alley: 41.71543, -123.44471 River Left. Hard to see from the river, this camp is located on top of the shelf on river left.

Mile 7.95 – Surfers Alley: 41.71372, -123.44588 Class II. Straight forward read and run.

Mile 8.06 – Lower Surfers Alley: 41.71254, -123.44725 River Right. The pull in eddy is located at the bottom of the camp.

Mile 8.25 – Clear Creek Confluence: 41.70986, -123.44837 River Right. Clear Creek is a run in itself, which we will one day cover. This is a large, beautiful tributary with many swimming holes.

Mile 9.51 – Extreme Water: 41.69276, -123.44573 Class III. A Forest Service map and a Pacific Corp document reference this rapid as “Exterminator Rapid.” This rapid presents a protruding rock shelf extending from the right bank across 2/3 of the river. Stay well left to avoid it.

Mile 9.69 – Lizard Head: 41.69157, -123.44266 River Left. This is a nice camp.

Mile 9.87 – Island Rock: 41.69276, -123.44573 Class II. At 2,300 CFS and lower, there is a nasty rock located left of center. Go right to easily avoid this.

Mile 10.16 – New Beach: 41.68554, -123.43928 River Right. Given its close to proximity to Castle Bar, this camp is easy to mix up.

Mile 10.31 – Castle Bar: 41.68348, -123.4382 River Right. Just downstream of New Beach, this is a smaller camp.

Mile 10.55 – Upper Bullfrog: 41.68018, -123.43716 River Left. Camp features a large cobble bar with an enormous tree towards the edge of the camp. Click here for a detailed description.

Mile 10.71 – Lower Bullfrog: 41.67897, -123.43507 River Left. The landing area isn’t as obvious as Upper Bullfrog, but this camp isn’t bad.

Mile 11.26 – Ferry Point River Access: 41.67213, -123.43048 River Right. This is a large cobble bar providing lots of access. If you are looking to keep this run just Class II and III, then you should take out here to avoid the downstream Dragon’s Tooth rapid. You could go a bit further to Independence, but it’s not as large of a takeout.

Mile 11.39 – Ferry Point: 41.67091, -123.43166 Class III. This is a long, fun, read and run rapid.

Mile 11.66 – Lower Ferry Point River Access: 41.66928, -123.43584 River Right. Generic put-in information here.

Mile 12.52 – Megan Jean Riffle: 41.66358, -123.44896 Class II. Small, fun waves. Right down the middle.

Mile 12.84 – Route 15N17 Bridge: 41.65953, -123.44949 Forest Route 15N17 crosses the river here.

Mile 12.84 – Independence River Access: 41.65972, -123.44979 River Right. The access is located just downstream of the bridge on river right.

Mile 13.02 – Bad Rock Rapid: 41.65859, -123.45298 Class II. Go left of the bad rock located on river right.

Mile 13.95 – Crawford Beach: 41.64848, -123.4634 River Left. Crawford Beach has a large sandbar. Locals call this Pipe Beach, named for the diversion pipe across river that is typically flowing. With the exception of the road being a bit low and in view, this is an excellent camp.

Mile 14.16 – Osprey Rapid: 41.6455, -123.46443 Class II. Read and run. There’s a wave in the center, avoid the pour over / exposed rock on the bottom left.

Mile 14.82 – Sasquatch Squeeze: 41.63628, -123.46279 Class II. Avoid the large rock in the center by going left of it. This is a good reminder rapid that Dragon’s Tooth is just downstream.

Mile 15.40 – Dragon’s Tooth: 41.6283, -123.46132 Class IV. This rapid is nothing to scoff at, the rocks present a formidable challenge here. Pull over on river right to scout. The most common line is left of the first large rock and then back hard right of the second large rock. Flips and swims can happen at both rocks. The current helps quite a bit with getting you back right. You can easily walk passengers around this on river right.

Mile 15.78 – Peregrine Rapid: 41.6236, -123.46466 Class II. Enter center and then work right to avoid the left wall.

Mile 15.93 – Volleyball: 41.61453, -123.4941 River Left. At flows below 2,000 CFS, there is sometimes a perfectly flat, ideal volleyball beach here.

Mile 16.27 – King Right: 41.61883, -123.46886 River Right. This is a nice, large camp.

Mile 16.40 – King Left: 41.61883, -123.46886 River Left. Not as nice as King Right as it has a longer carry.

Mile 16.47 – King Creek Rapid: 41.61851, -123.47278 Class II. Enter center then work right, avoiding the bottom center small hole and the bottom left rock coming off of the left bank.

Mile 17.05 – Ukonom Beach: 41.61629, -123.48304 River Left. This small, popular camp has good access to Ukonom Creek.

Mile 17.13 – Ukonom Creek: 41.61649, -123.48436 River Left. This creek is a very popular side stop as it offers an adventurous ‘hike’ to Twin Falls. Click here for a detailed description.

Mile 17.16 – Ukonom Riffle: 41.61685, -123.48471 Class II. Read and run, there’s a small hole bottom right.

Mile 17.77 – Coon Creek Camp: 41.61453, -123.4941 River Left. This is a good, large campground. Click here for a detailed description.

Mile 17.86 – Coon Creek River Access: 41.61349, -123.49576 River Right. This is located across the river from Coon Creek camp. It’s a medium sized cobble bar with a large eddy. Click here for a detailed description.

Coon Creek to Green Riffle – Class II & III

A great trip for the real young ones, Coon Creek to Green Riffle is miles of calm pools and class II and III whitewater. Keep in mind that although just a handful of camps are listed, there are numerous unnamed sand and cobble bars.

Length

Coon Creek to Green Riffle is 19.60 miles.

Difficulty

Beginner.

Feet per Mile

Coon Creek to Green Riffle is 13 FPM

Shuttle Time

Put in to takeout is 40 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 17.86 – Coon Creek River Access: 41.61349, -123.49576 River Right. If you’re putting in here, first check to make sure no one is taking out as the area can get crowded. Click here for a detailed description.

Mile 18.40 – Swillup Riffle: 41.60691, -123.50047 Class II. This rapid is located just downstream of Swillup Creek located on river right. Read and run.

Mile 19.09 – Blue Swillup: 41.60153, -123.50689 Class II. Read and run with a small hole / exposed rock located towards the bottom.

Mile 21.00 – Monolith Rapid: 41.5844, -123.51642 Class II. You know you’re here when you see the enormous rock on river left. Go right of it.

Mile 22.82 – Dillon Riffle: 41.57691, -123.54008 Class III. The river makes a dramatic left hand turn which is the entrance to Dillon Riffle. The rapid is read and run.

Mile 22.87 – Dillon Creek: 41.57623, -123.53913 River Right. Dillon Creek enters on the outside of the river turn. Technically this is a river access point, but it’s not very good.

Mile 23.45 – Klamath Highway Bridge: 41.5717, -123.5346 Highway 96 crosses the river.

Mile 24.64 – Blue Nose: 41.55846, -123.52515 Class II. Read and run.

Mile 25.33 – Lone Pine Bar: 41.54922, -123.52515 River Right. Located just upstream from Preisidio Bar.

Mile 25.76 – Presidio Bar River Access: 41.54505, -123.52964 River Left. This is a popular takeout for those putting together a three day trip starting in Happy Camp.

Mile 27.08 – Ti Bar Take Out: 41.52742, -123.52857 River Left. This is another decent takeout.

Mile 28.25 – Rock Creek: 41.5717, -123.5346 River Right. Rock Creek comes in here.

Mile 28.43 – Rock Creek Riffle: 41.50962, -123.53093 Class II. Move left to avoid the right bank at the bottom of the rapid.

Mile 28.93 – Eyese Bar: 41.50541, -123.52631 River Right.

Mile 29.38 – Eyese Bar Rapid: 41.49927, -123.52636 Class III. A small rock island splits the river. Go left of the island and enjoy the Class II+ waves.

Mile 30.36 – Sandy Bar Riffle: 41.48675, -123.51939 Class III. Fun waves on the right.

Mile 30.68 – Sandy Bar: 41.48349, -123.51498 River Left.

Mile 32.92 – Double Horseshoe Bend: 41.46124, -123.49823 The river makes two consecutive horseshoe bends here. The second bend is almost a mile long, and at the skinniest point, separated by just 500 feet.

Mile 34.86 – Rogers Bridge: 41.44867, -123.49513 The highway crosses the river twice here in a short period of time.

Mile 36.16 – Lyle Davis Bridge: 41.4456, -123.50642 Second bridge crosses here.

Mile 37.46 – Green Riffle Take Out: 41.43312, -123.50652 River Left. This is a mandatory take out because this is your last access point before Class VI Ishi Pishi Falls.

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