Hours and access are limited during the fall, winter and spring. For many years Chili Bar Hole was the site of the Chili Bar Rodeo. Six of the prisoners were found within six months, but the remaining seven – including the leader “Red Shirt” Gordon – were never found. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Tags and forms are available at Camp Lotus, Henningsen Lotus Park and Chili Bar. Flows: 800 – 1800 CFS, measured as release from Chili Bar dam (CBR) Gradient: 23 fpm average (upper 31 fpm, lower 21 fpm) pool and drop. There are two main companies which take photographs of the boaters on the Gorge. SWIMMER’S RAPID (II). Disadvantages: Marshall Gold Discovery State Park is highly regulated. Please review our COVID-19 policies. The first two rapids are Meatgrinder (III+) and Sluice Box (III-), which make an exciting start to the trip. There are five main locations where you can put in and/or take out on this section of river. Advantages: A short Class III trip with limited long stretches of Class I-II whitewater. The winter and spring are much less crowded and a great time for intermediate kayakers to practice their skills. SCISSORS (III). There is a submerged rock in the center of this rapid, with most of the whitewater pushing towards the right into a rock wall. Henningsen-Lotus park is a half-mile down the road on your right. Most paddlers run the river with a commercial rafting company. This full-day adventure is long, but it moves quickly due to the steady descent and swift current of the South Fork of the American River (note: reduced flows after July may extend the duration of your trip). The 20-mile run from Chili Bar to Salmon Falls features over 20 named rapids and countless waves in between. After a long pool, the river pours over a sharp drop (Lost Hat), then bends left and right into a bigger drop against the left wall. Some people choose to start at Chili Bar, camp at Camp Lotus and continue on to do the Gorge run on day 2. This tag must be attached to each boat, and contains important health and safety guidelines for all boaters, whether novice or experienced. There is a small eddy on the left just down stream. In addition to being a put-in and take-out on the South Fork of the American River, the Marshall Gold Discovery Park has activities for all ages, including a museum, hiking trails and gold panning lessons. Mini-bus or Van (Private or Commercial) $22, Violation for non-payment of parking fees $20. This round tree signals your approach into the lower gorge. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts. At the end of the Gorge Run, boaters enter Folsom Lake; depending on the water levels, there is a short paddle to the Salmon Falls Bridge to take out. Upstream from the Chili Bar stretch, expert boaters can test their skills on the Kyburz stretch, Slab Creek, Ice House, and other runs. If you see Lilyama Road on the right, you’ve gone too far. After you cross the bridge, turn left into the Chili Bar River Park and find parking. As of 2017, jet ski tows across Folsom Lake for private boaters have been suspended by the Park Service. It is a treat to find Surprise Rapid uncovered! The Greenwood Creek has a longer hike than other put-ins and take-outs. These runs have almost never been attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. Directions from Coloma: Drive northwest into the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. As its name implies, this is a rock garden to be maneuvered through with skill. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. If it’s early in the season, you might have a short paddle on the reservoir to Salmon Falls Bridge on Folsom Lake, which is the final take-out for the South Fork of the American River. Directions from Coloma: Drive northwest through the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. UPPER HAYSTACK CANYON (II+). If you have approval to put in here, follow the directions you receive from the State Park. The day begins with the exciting rapids on the Chili Bar Section, including Meatgrinder, Sluice Box, and Troublemaker. For additional information, including park rules and regulations, please visit the American River Conservancy. The Class III whitewater here is more continuous, with fewer long stretches of calmer water for relaxation. Lollipop Tree. This is the first big rapid on the South Fork’s lower section. If you RSVP, you must be certain that you will be attending this trip. Meatgrinder is also known as “Quarter Mile Rapid” because of its length. A relaxing stretch of Class II whitewater wraps up the trip. Continue 7.1 miles, after which you’ll turn left on Georgetown Rd. In 1850, Ed Raun reportedly collected up to $250 in tolls per day. The access point is sometimes known as Skunk Hollow. To discuss your desire to put-in and the potential use fees, please contact the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. Chili Bar was named after the Chilean road builders during the early Gold Rush days. This park is run by the American River Conservancy. Mile 7.4: Paddle under the Highway 49 Bridge. Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Entrance into the Gorge occurs after the third sighting of the “Lollipop Tree,” an odd tree with a circle of leaves, situated on top of a distant hill. For outfitted kayaking trips on the South Fork of the American River, check out California Canoe & Kayak. Put in at the Chili Bar Dam. Mile 18.2: Weber Creek enters from river left in the middle of Bouncing Rock Rapid (Class III). Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.
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