Category Archives: waterfall

Smith River California

Wild & Scenic Smith River
Smith River NRA

Northern California, Del Norte County

South Fork Smith River4

Wild Smith River

Smith River National Recreation Area

One of the least known rivers in the Golden State, the Smith is designated as a Wild and Scenic River. This could be one of the wildest and cleanest rivers in the world.

Located in the Pacific Northwest, this area typically sees the most rainfall of any California region. Smith waters flow from the Klamath mountains of Oregon, to cross into California  with state line near O’Brien.

Smith is the only major, un-dammed river inside California and it contains the most original, ancient forest ecosystem than any other waterway in the state.

colorful blue-green

Smith River water often appears emerald green or on clear, sunny days, a turquoise blue color. This is because of the rare green serpentine rocks below that cast their brilliant color.

The Wild & Scenic Smith River

hiker

River Classification & Mileage:

Wild — 78.0 miles
Scenic — 31.0 miles
Recreational — 216.4 miles
Total — 325.4 miles

Beginning up in Oregon….

The Smith River, its three major forks and dozens of side creeks drain a beautiful, rugged terrain of the Pacific Northwest, flowing southwest from the Klamath Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Nearing the coast, the river makes an abrupt turn north to meet the sea.

The NRA encompasses more than 450-square-miles of densely forested mountains, pristine botanical areas, remote wilderness landscapes, high-mountain lakes and steep, rocky canyons. The river is an important stream for fish, with towering trees along its banks provide shaded conditions necessary for cold-water species.

CALIF RIVER FISHING – chinook and coho salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. Obtain a California fishing license. CA DFW

fish

WEATHER

A couple of campgrounds in this area are open year round, but the others close down for winter. Rainy season normally runs from October through April with an average annual rainfall over 90 inches. Summers are dry and warm, with high temperatures between 80-100°F. Contact the NRA Headquarters at the Gasquet Ranger Station for current weather forecast/conditions.

  • backpacking

  • camping

  • cliff jumping

  • fishing

  • hiking

  • kayaking

  • mountain biking

  • paddle boarding

  • redwood forests

  • river rafting

  • snorkeling

  • swimming holes

  • tubing

  • wildlife

  • wildflowers

In 1990, the portions of the Smith River on the Six Rivers National Forest were re-designated to create the Smith River National Recreation Area. More than 300 miles of the Smith River drainage are designated wild and scenic, making it one of the most complete river systems in the nation. The emerald-green Smith River flows freely and naturally, without a single dam for its entire length (and the only major river in California to hold this status).

canoe

RAPIDS & FLOATS

Winter rains provide the whitewater conditions so avidly sought by kayakers. The Smith River abounds with Class IV and V rapids on all three forks and has many miles of steep creeking waters. Its miles of whitewater require a fairly high degree of technical skills by the boater.

Just past the confluence of the Middle Fork and South Fork, the river leaves the NRA and flows past giant redwoods. Great summer floating in Class I and II waters through here.

Once the three forks join to form the mainstem, the land levels out, and the last 16 miles to the ocean present less demanding conditions, Class I-II in medium flows.

Smith River Sunset

camptruck

ROADWAYS

California Coastal Redwoods to Oregon

Smith River Scenic Byway
U.S. Highway 199

33 miles long
Northwest California

 

PDF Smith River Map & Guide

6.5  MB download
20 page river PDF guide w/ trailheads mileage and information, navigable runs detailed, campgrounds, picnic sites, fire lookout tower, plus cabin rental

pinetree

FOREST & PARKS
along the Smith River

camp

Camping Smith River, California
Campgrounds along the Smith River

Campground Camping at Smith River National Recreation Area
RV Camping, Dispersed Camping, Lookouts & Cabin Rentals

Smith River

bycounty

More Information

Forks of the Smith River? 45 stream branches and 3 major forks, this huge watershed drains a lot of forest terrain.

USDA Smith River page

Smith River NRA Visitor Center
10600 US Highway 199
Gasquet, CA 95543
707-457-3131

Siskiyou Land Conservancy
siskiyouland.org

Smith River Alliance
smithriveralliance.org

Smith River Swimming Holes
arboursabroad.com/smith-river-swimming-holes

 

towns near the Smith River:

SmithRiverMap
Outta Print Map (1994)

OTHER SMITH RIVERS

By the way, there are other well known fishing destinations called Smith River – Montana & Missouri. Maybe more. Go find ’em.

Virginia Lakes California

virginia lake aspens
Autumn colors with aspen groves above 9000′ elevation
fishing by float tube
A top high elevation fishing destination in the Eastern Sierra, California
Lake Virginia 2000

Eastern Sierra Lakes – US Hwy 395

A grouping of small lakes on the Eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains near Bridgeport, California. Camping & fishing are the main attractions here, along with a high elevation trailhead. Awesome back country access for the backpackers who love hiking the Hoover Mountain Wilderness.
Aspen trees turn golden colors as freezing temps lower in Autumn, and can be breathtaking in October. Sometimes the window of opportunity is very short, as the first snow of the season usually falls at the same time of year.
goofballs

mountain lakes next to tall granite peaks, inside Toiyabe National Forest, Eastern Sierra, right off US Hwy 395.

fish

location:
Eastern Sierra California
Mono County
W off US Hwy 395
on Virginia Lakes Road
Just south of Bridgeport, CA

elevation: 9500′

inside this Eastern Sierra canyon:

Virginia Creek
Trumbull Lake
Virginia Lake
Blue Lake
Red Lake
Cooney Lake
Moat Lake
Frog Lakes
Burro Lake

Virginia Lakes Trailhead

Virginia Lakes Road (snow may close in winter)
Virginia Creek Rd #32139
Dunderberg Road #020

snow

trailhead
Hoover Wilderness hiking trails and trailhead

area activities:

Autumn see snow in October.
Autumn sees snow, usually in October.

camp

Eastern Sierra Camping:
Lake Campgrounds, Primitive Camping,
Dispersed Creek Camp Sites

freecamp139
BOONDOCKING: free camping on dirt road #139
road 139
Dirt Road parallels the paved road on the south side.
neighborcamp
RV and trailers okay

waterfall

canoe

nearby towns:

Bodie Ghost Town
Bridgeport
Lee Vining
Twin Lakes

Virginia Lakes

wilderness trail maps:

lakeshore in autumn