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 Topic:  Mad River - Maple Creek Run 

Forums -> General -> Mad River - Maple Creek Run Page 1 of 1
Posted to flow site: Mad River - At ArcataLatest PostNext TopicPrev Topic
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Posted: Mar 29, 2010Post Subject: Mad River - Maple Creek Run
Lost our kayak due to mis-information (not on this site); beginners took a class 4-5! Need help retreiving our kayak. If you can help, please email me at lmschwabe54@yahoo.com.
Posted: Apr 7, 2011Post Subject: Maple Creek Run
Mad River: Maple Creek to the Blue Lake Hatchery
Class: 1-5(P)
Length: Approximately 16 miles
Level: 7,000 to ?

Google Map


A group of Arcata boaters ran this stretch of the Mad River on 3/26/11, at approximately 9000 CFS on the USGS Mad River Arcata gauge. We put-on at approximately 11:30Am and took out at approximately 4:00 pm. The run was an approximate 16 miles in length and had an averaged gradient of 15’/mile.

Let me start by providing a little motivational backdrop to our run down this stretch of river. First, and most notably, beginner boaters had to be air-lifted out a year or two ago. Secondarily, available whitewater guide books note that this is a class 1+ section. The combined story of folks being air-lifted out and the fact that commonly used resources for planning river trips suggest this is a beginner float sealed the deal.

A low flow would ensure a painfully slow trip for all. Plan on two days or one really long day. “Higher” flows such as we had, made the flat water bearable but would be prohibitive to beginners. Personally I would not recommend this run unless you are a class 3 boater based in the Humboldt bay area looking for something new, relatively close to Arcata and your down for going somewhere just for the scenic beauty. I would not recommend a water level less than 9,000 CFS in Arcata.

The river had a big water feel and was abound with wildlife. I was surprised that in places, the river had large boulders and seep canyon walls. For being just outside of Arcata it felt isolated and relatively untouched by human hands. The scenic beauty, wildlife and experience were satisfying.

Class: 3+ or so
Scout: Right
Portage: Right
Indicators: See google map, river tightens up, obvious increase in gradient

We paddled flat water for a few miles with no significant drops. Eventually we came to a spot where the river began to constrict and canyon up. It looked like most of the gradient was accumulating in this drop. We ran a little lead in and eddied out right to take a look. Note at higher flows, lower eddies may become more difficult to access or completely washed out. Group estimates ranged from a big water 3 to 4. The drop consisted of a large wave train moving right to left, pushing into a rather large hole with a few smaller pour over’s mixed in. Undercut hazards existed on the extreme river left bank (mostly out of play though) and several rocks in the main channel were just submerged. A sneak existed river right but you had to work for it.

Class: 5(P)
Scout: Right
Portage: Right and high
Indicators: See google map, Large rock on river left with crack all the way through, tightens up, after long, punctuated elbow in the river as shown in the map

After RAPID 1 we paddled a few more miles of flat water with nothing significant. I had checked google maps out prior to the trip and identified a possible rapid after a large elbow in the river. We eventually paddled through the elbow—it is identified in the attached link to google maps. You will also see a large rock on river left cracked vertically. I recommend eddying out low to reduce the portage fest at levels around ours. Note, if water levels are significantly higher the eddy we caught may wash out. Think about eddying out high and to the right.

This rapid lived up to the lore surrounding this run. It was truly “major.” All around agreed it was a class 5 drop. Although a line or two existed, all in the party walked the rapid.

RAPID 3: Logging Dam?
Class: 2
Scout: Not Necessary
Portage: N/A
Indicators: Looks like an old dam because it was!

A fun wave train on river left.
Edited 3 times.  Last edited by Lou Apr 7, 2011.
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