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1. South Branch of the Feather – 755 feet in one mile and 0 portages.

Fun fact – The South Branch drops 600 feet of that total in the final .6th of a mile and really only Chris Korbulic’s 199 Problems falls out of a very doable class V realm.

2. South Fork Silver Creek – 656 feet in one mile with one portage

Fun fact– The entire run is only a mile and can be done far quicker by boat than by car


3. Yuba Gap 561 feet in one mile with 0 Portages.

Fun fact – Most people make plenty of Portages through this the final steep mile of the run, but one bright sunny day a few year’s back Lane Jacobs ran everything.

4. Upper Cherry Creek – Possibly the best mile of Kayaking in the top 5 with 528 feet of gradient in 1 mile and only a few 5 + drops to contend with.

Fun Fact – Stretching your mile to 1.2 will get you 20 more meters of gradient and would put Upper Cherry in the third spot

5. Middle Fork Kings – In the Area just above the washbowl to well into the manky boulders below good morning gorge the middle kings drops 525 feet in a mile.  Only problem is the last .4 miles is very often portaged with one that is mandatory.

6. West Cherry – 508 feet in a mile including Graceland.

Fun Fact – This would be one of the steepest were it not for a quarter mile long meadow in the middle of this mile also I am pretty sure everyone has made a few portages through the manky slides in the bottom part of that mile.

7. Lower North Fork of the San Joaquin – 492 feet in a mile with one portage around 3 rapids.

Fun Fact – This stretch of the North Fork of the San Joaquin has only seen one descent because it requires the most grueling hike out in California kayaking in lieu of certain doom from high water in the Crucible.


8. Dinky Creek – 482 feet in a mile with one Portage.

Fun Fact – There is a really steep mile upstream that has been canyoneered but never attempted by kayak.

9. Upper North Fork of the San Joaquin – 476 feet in the first mile from Hemlock Crossing with one mandatory portage around a 40 – 50 foot falls.

Fun Fact – This could be one of the best run’s in California if combined with the lower.  Only draw back is hike in and hike out.

10. Bridge Creek (Salmon River) – 469 feet in one mile and is the only entry to make it in that is outside the Sierra Nevada located in the Marble Mountains of Northern California.  Recent reports suggest a once totally runnable mile is now choked with wood.

Honorable Mention:

Haypress Creek – (A note from Brandon Knapp) Haypress Creek next to Bridge has something like a 900 foot mile with only 2 or 3 portages. All but one of them would go on the right day. Not saying the run is worth doing though!

Bear River (Trib SF San Joaquin) -(A note from Macy Burnham) It has a pretty steep mile (around 400 – 600ft) with only one or two portages in it.  (I measured it via GE at 425 feet in a mile 3 miles above Bear River diversion.  It would be steeper but some meadows flatten the river out short of a full mile of gradient.  Macy and his team have the only known descent).

Upper Middle Consumnes – (A note from Daniel Brasuell) – 420 feet in one mile with only a single portage.  It is also worth noting that prior to the log flushing out of a drop called Tony Hawk it was a no portage mile.

Lower Silver Fork of the American – Drops 406 feet in one mile and the complete mile including Car Wash is one of the gnarliest and has only been run a hand full of times that I know of including a first descent by Scott Lindgren and later run by Brandon Knapp, Willy Kern, Tao Berman, and Alex Hotze.

Devil’s Post Pile San Joaquin – Below a mile long portage the river drops 400 feet in one mile that is game on!

Royal Gorge of the American – From above Heath Springs lead-in one mile down the river drops 360 feet with most of that drop happening in the first 3rd of that mile.

Fantasy Falls of the Mokelumne – Droping 356 feet in a mile and runnable with over a 1000 cfs, the mile of whitewater through the Total Reality Vortex Gorge is one of the finest in the World.