Loma Prieta Paddlers (LPP) is a whitewater kayaking club, based in the South Bay and beyond.  If you are new to kayaking, new to the area or are just  looking for a group of fellow paddlers; check us out.

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North Fork American Shirttail Canyon

The North Fork is un-dammed as it flows crystal clear and cold out of the Sierras which means you'll need to catch it during the spring snow melt.  We normally run it as a class II+ run, but since it is un-dammed it's flow varies wildly with the weather, snow pack and the snow melt.  Always check the flow information before heading to the river so you aren't surprised by more or less water than you expected.  In case you were wondering, Shirttail is the name of the creek that comes into the North Fork just upstream of the Yankee Jim bridge at the put-in.

Quick Facts
Length of run approximately 5 miles from Yankee Jim to Ponderosa Bridge. 
Class II+ at the normal kayak flow of 400-4000 cfs
Approximately 165 miles from San Jose.  A little less than a 3 hour drive from San Jose
Shuttle takes about an hour to run
California Creekin' River Description
LPP Safety Management Plan
North Fork Photos

Real-time flow information

Current weather

Weimar is near the meeting point on Hwy 80

Driving Directions

From San Jose to Weimar Cross exit on Hwy 80 it's 165 miles.  A good final place for  gas and groceries is the Foresthill exit about 10 miles before Weimar.

The drive usually takes a bit under 3 hours early on a Saturday morning. 

Put-in & Take-out

We usually meet at a small parking area on the south side of Hwy 80 at the Weimar Cross exit (A).  It's a good place to arrange your shuttle and leave cars that don't need to drive into the canyon.

The put-in road is shown in pink.  Yankee Jim road turns to dirt as it winds it's way down Bunch Canyon towards the North Fork and Yankee Jim bridge (B).  It takes about 30 minutes to make this drive.

When you first see the North Fork from the road you'll be high above the river.  It's a good chance to stop and scout one of the bigger rapids on the river.  It's where the river splits around a small brush covered island near where Bunch Creek enters the North Fork.

There is parking along the road on both sides of the old one lane bridge. There are limited spaces and turning around can sometimes be a challange.  There is a porta-potty on the north side of the bridge.

To reach the put-in carry your boats down the short trail your left just as you cross the bridge.

The take-out is Ponderosa Bridge (C).  The route is shown in red on the topo map.  It is also mostly a dirt road, with great wild flowers in the spring.  It takes about 30 minutes to drive this road.  There is plenty of parking along the road near the bridge. As of 2012 you have to pay the iron ranger to park in this area.

The take-out itself is at the large sand beach on river right, just past the bridge.

Click on the topo map for a more detailed version.


Alternate Longer Run

You add another 4.5 miles of class II water to your paddle by continuing on past Ponderosa Bridge down to the Upper Clemetine take-out which is just at the beginning of the reservoir. This take-out is usually only open AFTER April 15th.  At 3500 cfs it took us about 1.5 hours to float through this contantly moving section.  At lower flows it could definitely take longer.  There were some nice surf waves, good beaches for camping or taking a break and no signs of people along the entire stretch.

Driving Directions

For this run we usually meet at the grocery store parking lot across the street from the Arco station at the Foresthill exit off of Hwy 80. It's a good place to sort out your shuttle.  You probably want to have enough cars so you don't have to run a double shuttle since the shuttle is a bit long for this run.  

The drive to the Foresthill exit is 150 miles from San Jose and takes about 2.5 hours on a Saturday morning with no traffic.


Put-in & Take-out

Upper Clemetine is the ideal take-out because it's at the top of the reservoir and the river flows right up to the beach.  Problem is the road is closed in the winter.  The "standard" time the road opens is 4/15, but it depends on how wet the winter has been.  In 2006 the road opened up on May 15th.  You can get information about the road through the Auburn State Recreation Area  530-885-4527.

To reach Upper Clemetine take Foresthill road down into the NFork Canyon, over the high bridge and drive about six miles.  You'll pass signs for the Lake Clemetine access road and then come to a left turn for Upper Clemetine.  It's a dirt road down to the river.  When you are paddling the take-out will be on river left on a big gravel bar.  The road is visible from the river as it comes down the hill.

If the Upper Clemetine road is closed the only other alternative is taking out at the dam.  It's a 2.5 mile flat paddle up the reservoir that takes about an hour and 15 minutes of constant paddling.  The launch ramp is on the left about 100 feet before the dam.  There are pit toilets at this location, but no water or other services.  It takes about 15 minutes to drive here from the Foresthill exit.

It takes about an hour to drive from the Lake Clemetine launch ramp back to the Foresthill exit , up Hwy 80 to Weimar Cross exit and down to the Yankee Jim Bridge to the put-in. 

Click on the topo map for a more detailed version.