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GORGE SCRAMBLE TRIP DESCRIPTIONS

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Trip 1: Cape Horn, North Fork of the American Wild and Scenic River Canyon, Level 2 Day Trip. To see more Trip 1 photographs by Paul Plathe click here.

This is a great gorge scramble for those who would like to try it for the first time. Many repeats show as well, due to the ease and uniqueness of this popular hike and float. This outing begins in the morning at the trailhead of the historical Stevens Trail which is located near Colfax and takes us 3.5 miles to the confluence of Secret Ravine and the North Fork of the American River. This trail was a gold rush era toll road used mainly from 1870- 1895 and served Iowa Hill, a large city at that time. The trail hugs the canyon wall slowly descending to the bottom of the canyon, treating us to spectacular views along the way.

CAP HORN

At the river we clamber out onto a sizeable rock formation adjacent to a long pool where we blow up our air mattresses, snack and complete our preparations for the 2.25 mile gorge scramble and float to the Iowa Hill bridge. For the first part of the journey we get on our air mattresses and by paddling with our arms, we glide thru a long pool of about 100 yards. At the end of the pool we get out of the water and rock hop around a lengthy cascade that is too steep and bouncy to float. After this we get into the next pool and float to the next drop. Individually, we scout each drop from the top and choose to float it or walk.

CAP HORN

Many of the drops are gently sloping, gravel bar affairs runable with a good air mattress. In drought years most drops do not have enough water in them to use our mattresses. Just below Cape Horn in the river bed we come to a rapid called "pinball" by the river kayakers. It is necessary to get out of the water and negotiate our way thru large rocks, ferry accross to the other side, get and get out of the water to avoid a drop with a nasty log a the bottom which has claimed many air mattresses. It is here near pinball that we start to see lots of people that have hiked up from the Iowa Hill bridge.
After pinball the current will carry us the rest of the way to the Iowa Hill bridge normally arriving about 3-4 pm. At the bridge you can look up canyon at Cape Horn and the infamous China Wall, a section of the Central Pacific Railroad built by Chinese laborers. Here we gather, deflate our air mattresses and change clothes. We complete our shuttle and go home or to dinner in historic Auburn.

CAP HORN