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Paddlesports Schools:

Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School
Located in:
Forks of Salmon, CA

More Details
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Otter Bar offers all skill levels of whitewater kayak instruction based out of our wilderness lodge on California's pristine Salmo (more...)
site home  :: self guided home  :: U.S. river guide  :: California River Trips  :: Middle Fork American River California

Kayaking & Canoeing Middle Fork American River California

Oxbow Powerhouse to Greenwood Bridge
 photos of Oxbow Powerhouse to Greenwood Bridge
Put-in:  Indian Bar
Take-out:  Driver's Flat - Former Greenwood Bridge
Difficulty:  Class III, IV
Length:  14.2 miles
Greenwood Bridge to Mammoth Bar
Put-in:  Drivers Flats - Former Greenwood Bridge
Take-out:  Mammoth Bar
Difficulty:  Class II, III, IV
Length:  8.9 miles
Mammoth Bar to Hwy 49 Bridge
Put-in:  Mammoth Bar
Take-out:  Hwy 49 Bridge
Difficulty:  Class II, III, IV
Length:  2.2 miles


The Middle Fork of the American is a legendary gold rush river, and it is said that more gold has been found in the Middle Fork canyon than in any other. During the height of the gold rush, forty-niners made claims on almost every square foot of the river. One of the most interesting historical sites is Horseshoe Bend, where the river once flowed 3/4s of a mile around a steep granite ledge. Miners blasted through the granite to divert the river, which has become Tunnel Chute, a cascading spillway that continues for 100 feet and then dips through a boatable tunnel.

The Middle Fork rises from the west side of the Sierra crest, west of Squaw Valley. Its principal tributary, the Rubicon River, drains the northern part of the Desolation Wilderness. Even though it is only 140 miles from the Bay Area, the river remains uncrowded with boaters, mostly likely because the shuttling is long and slow and there are a number or portages.

The rapids on this river are either difficult and dangerous Class IV+ drops or mellow Class I and II rapids. Much of this river runs through private land and although the public is allowed to boat on navigable rivers, if you have to portage, stay close to the water.