The Lower Klamath is located in the far northwest corner of California – one of the most remote and least populated areas of the state. While the term "Lower Klamath" can be used to describe any section of the Klamath River from I-5 to below Somes Bar the most popular stretch is from the town of Happy Camp to Green Rifle river access, located a few miles up stream from Somes Bar. In this section the Klamath River cuts a beautiful lush canyon through the remote Klamath Mountains.
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This stretch makes a great 2 to 5 day rafting trip for families, first-timers, and anyone interested in a relaxing and fun wilderness experience. The rapids are fun and splashy, the water is warm, there are numerous side streams and beautiful side hikes, and there are steady summer flows. One of the best qualities is the staggering amount of wildlife. It is common to see black bear, deer, otter, osprey, and bald eagles. If you are lucky you may glimpse the rarely seen and very reclusive Bigfoot.
Highway 96 follows most of the river and, while it is barely noticed from the water, it provides numerous access points and trip length options. There are many options along Highway 96, but the most common put-in is at Indian Creek at the west end of Happy Camp. The next few miles consist of Class II rapids leading up to the Class III Rattlesnake. At high spring flows Rattlesnake contains some Grand Canyon size waves and a huge hole. Below the river enters a beautiful inner gorge with numerous Class II and III rapids.
Mile 0: Put-in at Happy Camp. There are other places to launch upstream, but most people launch at our around Happy Camp.
Mile 4: Rattlesnake (III) is a sharp left bend with a hole in the center of the river.
Mile 8: Clear Creek enters from the right side.
Mile 17: Dragon's Tooth (III+) is below Independence creek where the canyon walls steepen. Although this rapid is only rated III+ it is tricky and there are many Class V guides who have been very surprised to find themselves upside down at the bottom!
Mile 18: Ukonom Creek enters from the left. This is a wonderful side hike up to a beautiful waterfall.
Mile 19: Coon Creek River access is a potential take out on the right bank. After Coon Creek there are 18 more miles of Class II to III- rapids and the scenic Rock Creek campsite. While floated less often then the upper section it is beautiful and full of wildlife.
Mile 37: Take-out at Green Riffle. A few miles down stream of this access is the Class V+/VI Ishi Pishi Falls. Not only is this a huge rapid, it is also a sacred area for the local Native Americans. Below Ishi Pishi there is a very short section called the Ikes with a few big water Class III to IV+ rapids before the Klamath flattens out and downstream progress becomes difficult because of upstream winds.