|Gradient -||French Lake to Weil Lake - 400 fpm (.5 mile)|
|Weil to Faucherie Lake - 220 fpm (1.4 miles)|
|Faucherie to Sawmill Lake - 140 fpm (1.85 miles)|
|Sawmill to Bowman Lake - 330 fpm (.85 mile)|
* This write-up is a description of how my paddling buddies and I ran rapids at 80 cfs on that particular day. Be sure to make your own decisions ...
This rarely run creek saw its first descent in ~1993, but has revived some interest this fall. No it's not a South Silver, but it is a cross between Fordyce and the South Yuba-Spaulding run. Just the scenery alone is worth the trip, at times it reminded me of Tuolumne Meadows. After a hour or so hike down the gated road is the French Lake dam. The view downstream is impressive - continuous drops surrounded by granite. The canyon starts out with some fun drops and . Catch the small eddy (pay attention catching this one!) on the right to scout this 25' drop . As with many drops on this run, I think another 20 cfs would make it more appealing. Portage on right if so inclined. The drop below this has an intimidating horizon line, best scouted on the left. This is a 7' drop with a sticky hole. Running the middle gives you a boof to easily clear the hole. A few more rapids to Weil Lake, more like a pond really. Just below Weil Lake is a twisting jolly of joy to an 8' slide . This 20' falls looks quite interesting, but needs a bit more h2o. These next two rapids and looked very runnable but no-one in our group ran them. The next rapid is straight-forward, following the main flow and boofing the left side of the rock at the bottom . After a short pool is an 8' entrance to a 20' falls . Next is the best slide on the run (Faucherie Lake is in the background). It starts with a 25' slide and into a hole that laid me out on my back deck (the others didn't get their faces wet, go figure). Immediately downstream is a curler followed by a boxed-in hole with an undercut wall on the right. The paddle across Faucherie Lake is .3 miles, not enough time to take in the beautiful granite surroundings. The spillway is to the right and can be paddled over. Shortly below here is an impressive drop that none of us decided to run that day (it was run on the first descent). Once again, just a wee bit more water for this one . Shortly below here is a road crossing that I will use next time for the take-out. I found the rest of the run to Sawmill uninteresting. A group that kayaked a few days prior to our trip, told me that the section from Sawmill to Bowman has a long portage and just one good rapid, although now seeing photos of that drop maybe it is worth it.
All in all, this creek is WELL worth the time and energy.
Based on the photos from an earlier descent I'm guessing they had 10-15 cfs more, I think a more optimum flow.
|French Lake to Weil Lake:|
|6655' to 6445' in .5 miles|
|Weil Lake to Faucherie Lake:|
|6445' to 6135' in 1.4 miles|
|.3 miles to cross Faucherie|
|Faucherie Lake to Sawmill Lake:|
|6135' to 5875' in 1.85 miles|
|.75 miles to road crossing (bridge)|
|.5 miles to cross Sawmill:|
|Sawmill Lake to Bowman Lake|
|5845' to 5565' in .85 miles|
|.5 miles to cross Bowman:|
Take-out - Take 89 North from Truckee ~14.5 miles. Turn left at a well-marked sign toward Jackson Meadows Res. Drive 17 miles to Jackson Meadows Res. Drive across the dam. Follow signs to Bowman Lake. After 5 miles you will see a small sign for Sawmill Lake, turn left (or continue straight to take-out at Bowman Lake). Drive 1.1 miles to Sawmill Lake. A shorter day alternative is to drive 2.5 miles to where the road crosses Canyon Creek (downstream of Faucherie Lake) and take out here.
Put-in - Drive 1.1 miles back to main road, turn right (left is toward Bowman Lake). Drive 3 miles to Mirror Lake sign, turn right. After 4 miles turn right on an unmarked road. Continue 0.3 miles to locked gate. Hike in from here on a dirt road ~2 miles to the dam. Trail on river right from the dam leads to the creek.
Narrative and the above photos all copyright 2002. Contact Justin States.
More recent (2008) photos at 120 cfs: Greg Didriksen and Chris Zawaki.
This page was last updated Sep 12, 2008.