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Susan River - Susanville Run

*Devil's Corral to Hobo Camp in Susanville*

This is a 6.5 mile Class II to III run Typical Class II  Typical Class II  Typical Class II  Typical Class II  with two rapids, KC's Demise and Pinball, that are portages KC's Demise  KC's Demise  Pinball  Pinball  Pinball  except at higher water (above 400 cfs) when the portages can be run as Class IV to V drops KC's Demise  KC's Demise  KC's Demise  Pinball  Pinball  subject to volume and debris hazards.  The two Class IV to V drops are approximately 1.75 and 3 miles downstream from the put-in at the Highway 36 bridge at Devil's Corral.  Natural woody debris in the river and stream side brush, roots and low tree limbs create ever present obstacles and strainers to avoid in this narrow river channel Pinball  Pinball  Pinball  Hobo Camp  and therefore scouting rapids is a must as difficulty increases and where visibility is limited.  The Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail (a rail trail) parallels the river through the Susan River Canyon along this entire segment of the river, providing an excellent scouting route and portage path when needed: Pinball  Boaters pass through beautiful scenery of the east slope of the Sierra and Cascade Mountains, underneath eight steel railroad bridges, and by two RR tunnels built in 1913 which are part of the abandoned Fernley and Lassen Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad, now the Bizz Johnson Trail Bridge No. 5  Bridge No. 5  and Bridge No. 7 

Boatable flows extend from March to August with occasional storm flows occurring in the late fall and winter that create short runable opportunities for experienced boaters.  Natural spring run-off ranges from about 200 to more than 700 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Summer flows are a mixture of natural flows augmented with irrigation releases from shallow meadow reservoirs upstream of the Susan River Canyon.  Summer flows vary between about 50 to 100 cfs during releases, then drop as low as 5 cfs in late summer.

Inner tubers are the primary floaters of the river, floating mainly in the late spring and summer time.  Kayakers also run the river and enjoy the mixture of whitewater and scenic beauty when flows are suitable.  This segment of the Susan is not suitable for inexperienced whitewater paddlers using conventional open canoes due to the many natural hazards and narrow channel.


Devil's Corral: directly below the California State Highway 36 bridge at Devil's Corral.  River access is available via an old highway segment that turns off the north side of Highway 36, 1/4 mile west of the current Highway 36 bridge.  Follow the old highway east about 1/4 mile to just before a blocked old highway bridge where a small dirt road on the right descends to the river Pinball  The river is very narrow here but is joined by two streams within 1/4 mile adding to the small flow.  Just below the put-in is a small pond.  Portage on river left.


BLM's Hobo Camp picnic area Hobo Camp  is on river right about 6.5 miles downstream from the put-in.  The picnic area is near the edge of town in a pine grove on river right about 1/4 mile below a steel railroad bridge Bridge No. 1  The picnic area is open from the 3rd weekend of April through the 2nd weekend of November.  To drive to Hobo Camp, follow Susanville's Main Street to South Weatherlow Street, which becomes Richmond Road after crossing the Susan River.  Follow South Weatherlow Street 1/2 mile, turn right on South Street and then follow signs to Hobo Camp.  Before Hobo Camp opens, boaters can take out below the Hobo Camp picnic area on river left, above a steep drop Bridge No. 1  Bridge No. 1  and portage down the Bizz Johnson Trail 1/4 mile to the Miller Road Trailhead.  Visit the BizzJohnsonTrail website, or contact BLM (see below), for a Bizz Johnson Trail map.


Generally you would need to run your own vehicle shuttle prior to running the Susan River, however the following options are possible on the Susan River:

  1. Lock a mountain bike at the Hobo Camp Trailhead on the Bizz Johnson Trail, or at the Susanville Railroad Depot Visitor Center at 601 Richmond Road.  Drive to the put-in, kayak to where you locked your bike and then, while one boater watches your boats, another bicycles 7 miles back up the Susan River on the scenic Bizz Johnson Trail (gravel surface) to retrieve your vehicle.
  2. Call Lassen Rural Bus, 530-252-7433, and check if the regularly scheduled Susanville to Westwood bus will carry your kayaks inside the bus (for small groups) or
  3. Call Lassen Rural Bus to see if BLM is running a truck and trailer in support of bus service on the first and third Saturdays of each month, June through October, and ask if there would be room for kayaks to be hauled in addition to bicycles that are hauled.
  4. Local cab company, Susanville Express (530-257-5277) can be hired to shuttle Bizz Johnson Trail users (and paddlers without their kayaks) to retrieve their vehicles after you have run the river.  Call to arrange your own shuttle and when checking costs, explain that you only need to be hauled to the Devil's Corral trailhead, 7 miles west of Susanville, where Highway 36 crosses the Susan River.  The cab company can haul 4 bicycles but so far, they are not set up to transport kayaks.

Additional Info

For more information contact:

Written by Stan Bales, Bureau of Land Management.  This page was last updated Feb 6, 2012.