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Trip Report: Whitewater Kayaking the North Fork of the Smith River, CA
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Trip Report: Whitewater Kayaking the North Fork of the Smith River, CA

Trip Report: Whitewater Kayaking the North Fork of the Smith River, CA

When: 03/25/2019
Location: North Fork of the Smith River, CA
Conditions: PERFECT SUNNY SPRING DAY!
Duration: 4-7 Hours
Difficulty: Class 3-4
Kid Friendly: No
Pet Friendly: No
Usefull links: americanwhitewater.org

North Fork Smith River

The Full Report:
The North Fork of the Smith River is such a special place. It joins the Middle Fork of the Smith in Gasquet, CA. What makes this kayaking trip extra special is the lack of any roadways along the run. You will need to set up a shuttle, your best bet is a local service run by Barefoot Brad. You'll want to get an early start because the shuttle takes a bit and so does the paddle. Show up at Brad's house bright and early and he will direct you from there. It’s about an hour and a half of driving through rugged terrain over mountain passes to get to the put in. The landscape changes many times throughout the drive. At the top of a few of the peaks, you can see the ocean! I highly suggest an SUV or truck with high clearance, a Subaru at the very least for this trip. At the put in Brad will drop you off and take your car back down to the take out. His rate is $60, and I suggest you tip on top of that.

North Fork Smith River

Once you get to the put in you will be more than ready to get on the water. The rocks around you are a rich dark red color and the water is blue and clear. There is a bathroom at the put in also. Here you start your 14-mile journey down the North Fork of the Smith River. It has a few class 3s to start and then you will come to a left-hand bend and a horizon line which is where the class 4 stuff begins. There are about 5 or 6 class 4's total and they are all pretty straight forward and easy to scout if needed. This fork really has some clean rapids compared to some of the creeks we run in Northern Oregon and Southern Washington. After 2 or 3 miles Diamond Creek comes in on the left-hand side. Take time to take a quick hike up to check it out if you can. It’s quite a beautiful little canyon. The scenery is great all the way to the takeout. Farther down the run you will see the water cascading off the left wall creating this beautiful curtain of water. This is called the "Gratto" by the paddlers. This is also a fun place to take a break. At the end of the run the water flattens out and you will see a couple of houses on the left and a creek entering on river left. Here is the take out. Once you walk up the trail, you'll find your car waiting for you!

North Fork Smith River

This is for sure a bucket list run. Maybe not for the hard whitewater but for the beautiful scenery. It’s amazing how geologically different it is from the South Fork just down the road. Just remember that this run is not roadside and it’s a long way out if something were to happen at the beginning. Pack accordingly and have the 10 essentials packed among your group.

Barefoot Brad Shuttle #: 707-457-3365
Or Brad Camden on Facebook.

North Fork Smith River

North Fork Smith River

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