Average Gradient
18.00 ft/mi (3.41 m/km)
Days
<1
Most difficult rapid
?
Distance
5.50 mi (8.85 km)
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The South Fork of the American River is perhaps the most commercially rafted river in the West, and it is also kayaked frequently. Perhaps the least frequently rafted and kayaked section is from Coloma to Greenwood, otherwise known as C to G. This section is 5.5 miles long in between two more intense runs, Chili Bar and The Gorge.

Most of C to G is calm with very few rapids of note. There are several Class II and Class I rapids, making it great for any beginning kayakers or anyone in a personal flotation device. The most notable rapid is Barking Dog (II+, mile 3.1) because it is an awesome surf spot for kayakers. Often times there will even be visitors with surf boards riding the wave.

The flow in C to G is controlled by the Chili Bar Reservoir dam and is thus highly reliable on flow times and days. During spring and early summer appropriate flows are often found every day, though some spring days can bring dangerously high levels. Late summer and fall flows for kayaking and rafting are usually only available on the weekend. From the release point at Chili Bar it takes a couple of hours for the water to reach the Coloma put-in. Be sure to take the time lag for the end of the flow release to avoid running at very low flows.

Take-out is available at the Greenwood Creek River Access, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, making it free to park for the day. Make sure to grab a free river permit here and attach it to your boat before heading to Coloma. ​For the put-in, three options are available: Marshal Gold Discovery SHP, the Highway 49 bridge, and Camp Lotus. Only the bridge does not charge to put in any vessels, but the portage is farther.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Motors Allowed

No

Pros

Perfect for beginning paddlers.

Cons

Slow moving river. No large rapids.

Put-in location (lat, long coordinates)

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historical Park

Take-out location (lat, long coordinates)

Greenwood River Access

Typically multi-day

No

Shuttle required

No

Overall difficulty

II

Route Characteristics: Character

Pool Drop
Open (Non
Park

Suitable for

Kayaks
Rafts

Location

Field Guide

Comments

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