I’ve been kayaking in the Sierra Nevada Mountain for nine years now, and it is hands down my favorite place to paddle. I’ve seen some amazing rivers with countless more I have yet to explore, and I’ve met some really amazing people along the way. If you ask paddlers around the world about whitewater in California, you will probably get a lot of responses referring to the classic multi-day trips that these mountains are known for. High sierra bed rock granite class V for days brings kayakers from all over the world even in years of low snow pack. What about those who want to explore some multi-day self support kayaking or raft support kayaking without having to face the extreme class V conditions of the high sierra? Are there still runs that make fun multi-day trips for the everyday paddler? Yes. Yes, there are. Here are a few suggestions for runs that make great overnight trips without the class V element.
- South Fork of the American (full river) Class III
- You probably already know this stretch pretty well. Why not start at chile bar on Saturday and camp on the BLM beach just downstream of greenwood on river right? Then, you can finish the trip through the gorge the next day. If you’re doing this when flows are normal, waiting on the release on Sunday morning makes for a great casual breakfast hangout by the rio.
- East Fork Carson Class II
- This 20 mile section in on the eastern slope of the Sierras has ample camping opportunities with hot springs at the half way point. I highly recommend this trip to anyone wanting to enjoy a weekend of paddling, camping, and hot springs.
- North Fork American (Giant Gap) Class IV
- This 13 mile run is typically done in one day but it could easily be split into a two day. This canyon is incredibly beautiful and would make a great spot to hang out with friends around a campfire for a night.
- Middle Fork of the American Class II-IV
- The tunnel chute run is long. Why not make an overnighter out of it? While you’re at it you could add another night or maybe even two going from the tunnel chute take out down to the confluence with the NFA. Double check my beta on this lower section because I haven’t actually done it, but I think it is a pretty nice class II paddle with just the one bigger rapid right at the confluence which would be an easy portage. You could also just overnight the lower section I think if you didn’t want to do the tunnel chute run.