Valley Creek may just be California's finest class IV run.
What's amazing is that this run has never appeared in a guidebook and
lies in obscurity. This beautiful run starts off as a small mountain
stream flowing off the southern flanks of Mount Shasta before exiting
Squaw Valley for an exciting eleven mile run into the McCloud River,
one of the other best class IV runs in the state. That's right, not
just one but two epic class IV runs for the price of one, just over
twenty miles of beautiful scenery and great rapids.
aren't bad during the shuttle either. Beware
that early in the winter the put-in at Cabin Creek can be snowed in.
The creek hardly appears possible at put-in, with a paltry flow
of 200-300cfs. Thankfully it's channelized well and action picks up
right below the parking area.
Brasuell in an early one.
The creek is non-stop class II or III for several miles,
although there are eddies pools are lacking at first. Several miles
into the run and a few significant rapids under the belt, the first
falls can sneak up on you.
Gaydos runs the first of the falls on Squaw Valley Creek. Only
a few corners below the first falls is the second "falls" which is
really more of a ledge, run here by Daniel Brasuell.
Many miles of III with the occasional IV continue in epic wilderness
Shortly after the falls, tributaries start to contribute
significant amounts of water and the creek starts to look more like a
river. Good action continues on until suddenly private bridges appear
overhead and you are in the domain of private fishing clubs. These
bridges mark the start of a tougher section of Squaw Valley Creek where
several class IV rapids come back to back, and one verges on V-.
Brasuel punches a large hole in the IV+ with a big IV just upstream. Daniel
exits the same via a nice boof on the right.
Once the big rapid is behind you, there are many miles of fast
moving water and one more IV before the confluence with the McCloud.
Squaw Valley Creek swells to
two-thirds of the final flow and really feels like a river down here.
Once at the confluence with the McCloud, it's another ten miles of the
best section of this great river at ideal flows. If you're moving fast
the McCloud will only take an hour or two to complete.
Twenty odd miles is a long day on the river. It's best to
early and go with someone who knows the run or is confident boat
scouting. If you don't have either of these, consider enjoying Squaw
Valley Creek as a fantastic overnight. Just be sure to camp before the
falls on the right, the only sort of "beach" you'll see on the run.
It's the last spot before it all turns to private land, whose owners
frown on any besides themselves enjoying these beautiful water ways.
I've done the run with flows of 1,200 and 1,500cfs in the McCloud
Lake. Higher was better, and
1,500 seemed ideal.
Take-out: From Highway 5 take Gillman Road east (South of Dunsmuir some
20 miles). Follow for 17 miles to the bridge over the McCloud arm of
Put-in: Continue North on Highway 5, Take Highway 89 east towards
McCloud. Once in the town of McCloud, take Squaw Valley Road. After a
few miles, at the end of a meadow there is a sign for Squaw Valley
Creek to the right, follow the dirt road for the 2 miles to the bridge
over the creek and the sign for the Cabin Creek Trailhead. If you end
up at Lake McCloud, you have gone too far, turn around and look for the