Do I dare say this river is the most scenic and fun Class IV rafting trip in California? No, because you are very likely to freeze your but off. This trip is normally done during or soon after rainstorms in February or March.

The North Fork of the Smith begins in Oregon's Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the normal put-in is just downriver of the Oregon border. You'll enjoy a fairly long and very scenic (unless it's raining) drive to put-in at Major Moore's where you'll get a sense of the remote are you're in. You'll immediately be awestruck by the clarity and greenish color of the water.

The North Fork of the Smith River

The North Fork of the Smith River

This run starts off with some great warm up rapids. After Diamond Creek enters on the left side, start paying attention for the rapids to pick up. The Redwood Gorge starts around mile four with a number of great Class III and IV rapids. The rest of the run is scattered with Class III and IV rapids.

There are several spectacular stops on the North Fork at great waterfalls and side creeks. At most of these stops, you'll have a chance to check out the California Pitcher Plant. This is a rare carnivorous plant that uses ultraviolet guides and slippery wax to lure insects and spiders into it's inner workings.

Darlingtonia Californica are also known as "Pitcher Plants"

Darlingtonia Californica are also known as "Pitcher Plants"

You're a lucky one if you get a chance to do the North Fork of the Smith. Just remember to bring plenty of warm boating gear and a thermos full of hot chocolate.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in at Major Moore's just upstream of the Low Divide Road Bridge.

Putting in at Major Moore's on the North Fork of the Smith River

Putting in at Major Moore's on the North Fork of the Smith River

Mile 1.5: Diamond Creek enters from the left side. The section of rapids below here is known as the Redwall Gorge.

Mile 3.1: Scout Rapid (IV+) is the most difficult rapid at most flows and should be scouted from the right.

In the heart of Redwall Gorge between Scout and Ledge Rapids

In the heart of Redwall Gorge between Scout and Ledge Rapids

Mile 3.4: Ledge Rapid (IV) typically has a big ledge hole on the right.

Mile 4: Still Creek enters from the right side and marks the end of the Redwall Gorge. This is a great place to have lunch.

Mile 8.35: Golf Course (IV) is a long rapid with some big holes at the bottom.

Mile 8.8: Peridotite Creek enters from the left side.

Peridotite Creek entering the North Fork of the Smith River

Peridotite Creek entering the North Fork of the Smith River

Mile 9.25: The Grotto is a beautiful waterfall you can paddle behind.

Paddling into The Grotto on the North Fork of the Smith River

Paddling into The Grotto on the North Fork of the Smith River

Mile 12: Stony Creek enters from the left.

Paddling Stony Creek into the North Fork of the Smith River

Paddling Stony Creek into the North Fork of the Smith River

Mile 13.2: Kayakers can take out at the confluence with the Middle Fork of the Smith by hiking up the rocks next to the steel pipe to Gasquet Flat Road. It would be tough to take a raft out here so rafters need to continue down to Margie's River Access.

Mile 14.8: Take-out at Margie's River Access.

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