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North Fork Stanislaus River

North Fork of Stanislaus offers an extremely thrilling ride down five miles of steep continuous whitewater rapids on a section of river between Sourgrass, near Dorrington, and Calaveras Big Trees State Park, just east of Arnold. Keep an eye on the weather, and don’t wait for summer there has to be enough snow melt to get you over the rocks.

The first 15 foot drop on the rapids is called beginners luck, it is a class IV-V and is followed by a steep ramp and a large hole. Other areas along the route claim names appropriate for the adrenaline they produce such as: Bearclaw, Shotgun, The Plunge, and Whiteout. Big Trees falls is a class IV with a 12 foot slanting chute near the end of what is sure to be a very memorable experience.

Rafting trips on the North Fork may be taken with one of three commercial outfitters currently licensed to run the river by Stanislaus National Forest. The Stanislaus National Forest does not regulate private non-commercial boaters on the North Fork Stanislaus River, boaters are encouraged to stagger their launches with commercial trips, to prevent overcrowding. Everyone is responsible for ensuring that they have the proper equipment, skills and experience to safely navigate a very challenging Class IV river. The Calaveras Ranger District has guidelines for put-in, take-out, and parking.


Rainbow trout and brown trout also swim in these turbulent waters. For rules and regulations visit the California Department of Fish and Game Website