The California Salmon River flows between the Marble Mountains and the Trinity Alps in the Northern California Coast Range and is one of the major tributaries of the Klamath. Although it's quite a trek to get to the Cal Salmon from anywhere, it's well worth it due to the beautiful canyon, sparkling clear water, and awesome rapids. This is a classic!

Featured Outfitters

Momentum River ExpeditionsMomentum River Expeditions (541) 488-2525 offers world-class rafting and adventure travel trips in Oregon, Northern California, Idaho, Alaska, and beyond.

You'll put in at Nordheimer campground and have a nice warm-up before running Bloomer Falls (IV+) within the first mile. Below here, the river will keep you interested all day due to countless Class IV rapids and two Class Vs.

This run comes to an exiting climax with the final two rapids: Last Chance and Freight Train. Last Chance is a tricky rapids with a boat flipping hole at the bottom. This is particularly important because the big rapid Freight Train is just below here and a flip in Last Chance could mean a top to bottom swim through Freight Train. Those of you that have run Freight Train know this is a bad thing because it's a long, powerful rapid that funnels through a narrow opening between rock walls at the bottom.

River Description

Mile 0: Put-in at Nordheimer Campground.

Mile 0.7: Bloomer Falls (IV+) is a fun double drop that was a more difficult rapid before the Forest Service blasted in in the 1980s. Below here is the Maze (IV) and Lewis Creek Falls (IV).

Mile 2.5: Airplane Turn (IV) requires a classic airplane turn move for rafts.

Airplane Turn Rapid on the Cal Salmon

Airplane Turn Rapid on the Cal Salmon

Mile 4.3: Cascade (V) is the first Class V rapid on the run and is typically scouted on the left. There are multiple ways to go and they're all difficult. Below here is Achilles Heel (IV) and Whirling Dervish (IV).

Cascade (V) is a long complicated rapid

Cascade (V) is a long complicated rapid

Mile 5.9: Last Chance (IV) is a tricky rapid just before Freight train. You can scout and set safety on the right.

Mile 6: Freight Train (V) is a long, powerful rapid that is tough to scout.

Mile 6.4: River access on the left side just above Butler Ledge (IV).

Mile 8.8: Gaping Maw (IV+), sometimes called Marble, is one of the most difficult rapids on the run and commonly causes problems for rafts. Many boaters have no problems in the upstream rapids and get slapped at Gaping Maw. Scout from the left.

Mile 9.8: Wooley Creek enters on the right side.

Mile 10.2: Take out at Brannons Bar.