The Upper Tuolumne, also referred to as the Cherry Creek, is the section of the Tuolumne River above the more commonly rafted overnight section. While you do start the voyage on Cherry Creek, the meat of this run is actually on the Tuolumne River. Typically people run Cherry Creek in mid-summer when the snowmelt is done and the dam-controlled flows are solidly around 1,000 cfs.

Cherry Creek is the yardstick that all Class V runs are measured against. A solid Class V, it's actually pretty amazing that such a steep run with so many boulders is so runnable. Cherry Creek is for experts only, but if you have the skills, knowledge, the right people, and the right equipment, you will walk away thrilled and amazed.

Although the run is relatively short, plan a long day for a slow shuttle, tons of scouting, and some portaging. The summer dam release is 3 hours so you want to be sure to make good time or you'll get stranded without water. You can take out at Lumsden Falls, but it is much easier to paddle the last mile or so of fun (but only Class IV) rapids down to Meral's Pool. Here you'll pop open a beer as the adrenaline leaves your system.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in just downstream of Holm Powerhouse.

Putting in below Holm Powerhouse on Cherry Creek

Putting in below Holm Powerhouse on Cherry Creek

The first few rapids on Cherry Creek proper are a little junky, but a good warm for what's to come.

Mile 1: Confluence of Cherry Creek and the Tuolumne River. Below here are the rapids Guillotine (V-), Corkscrew (V-), and Jawbone (V-).

Kayaker in Jawbone Rapid in Cherry Creek

Kayaker in Jawbone Rapid in Cherry Creek

Mile 3.2: Mushroom (V) and Toadstool (V) are two of the most difficult rapids and come in quick succession. Both are commonly scouted on the left.

Toadstool Rapid on Cherry Creek

Toadstool Rapid on Cherry Creek

Mile 4 - 5: The Miracle Mile is a section of rapids that drops 200 feet and includes rapids like Unknown Soldier (V), Sky King (V), Blind Faith (V-), Eulogy (V-), and Coffin (V).

Kayakers running Blind Faith Rapid in the Miracle Mile of Cherry Creek

Kayakers running Blind Faith Rapid in the Miracle Mile of Cherry Creek

Mile 6.4: Lewis's Leap (V) is a classic rapid with a tricky entrance followed by an 8 foot drop between a couple boulders.

Mile 6.8: Flat Rock Falls (V-VI) is typically portaged on the left. There are several ways to run this rapid, but none of them are particularly clean.

Mile 7: Lumsden Falls (Portage) is a 30 foot drop over boulders that is run by some kayakers and rafters but it's typically portaged on river left.

Mile 8.6: Take-out at Meral's Pool.

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