Oroville Outdoor Adventurer Rafting / Kayaking Fishing

Explore the Feather River

Few water­ways in Butte Coun­ty are more excit­ing than the Feath­er Riv­er! With four long trib­u­tary forks — the South Fork , Wild and Scenic Mid­dle Fork, North Fork, and West Branch Feath­er Rivers – con­verg­ing at Lake Oroville and flow­ing into the Sacra­men­to Riv­er as its prin­ci­pal trib­u­tary, the Feath­er Riv­er has bound­less oppor­tu­ni­ties for kayak­ing, fish­ing, swim­ming, and more.

Jump to: North ForkMid­dle ForkHis­to­ry


Kayak­ing on the Feath­er Riv­er is a pop­u­lar pas­time. The Mid­dle Fork offers Class IV and V rapids, per­fect for more adven­tur­ous out­ings, while the calm waters on the riv­er through the city of Oroville are per­fect for fam­i­ly-friend­ly explo­rations. Dur­ing the salmon sea­son, kayak­ers can get up-close-and-per­son­al with migrat­ing fish as they launch at the Feath­er Riv­er Fish Hatch­ery and end at River­bend Park.


The Feath­er Riv­er is home to one of the largest steel­head runs in the California’s Cen­tral Val­ley and is also a prime fish­ery for striped bass. The low­er Feath­er Riv­er, below Lake Oroville, has a series of rif­fles per­fect for fly fish­ing, and attract anglers from around the state when the steel­head and striped bass run. The forks of the Feath­er Riv­er above Lake Oroville are abun­dant rain­bow and brown trout fish­ing for anglers will­ing to hike.

North Fork

The North Fork Feath­er Riv­er is a pri­ma­ry trib­u­tary of the Feath­er Riv­er and runs through the north­ern Sier­ra Neva­da. It flows gen­er­al­ly south­wards from its head­wa­ters near Lassen Peak to Lake Oroville before merg­ing with the South Fork and Mid­dle Fork into the Feath­er River.

White­wa­ter Rafting/​Kayaking

With a steady dose of dam-released water from Lake Almanor, this sec­tion of riv­er holds some of the best year-round white­wa­ter in the state. Recre­ation high-water flows are gen­er­al­ly held four week­ends a year in June, July, August, and Sep­tem­ber along the Rock Creek Reach (check for updates from PG&E for the annu­al flow dates). Dur­ing these peri­ods, in which water flows are increased to 700 – 800 cubic feet per sec­ond (cfs) (nor­mal range for the sea­son is 150 cfs), the part of the North Fork con­tains Class III, IV, and V rapids.

The Rock Creek Reach is the 8.3‑mile por­tion of the North Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er in the Plumas Nation­al For­est between PG&E’s Rock Creek dam and the Rock Creek pow­er­house near Stor­rie.

Access to the upper por­tion of the North Fork is acces­si­ble via High­way 70.

Explore the Feather River


Fish­ing is also avail­able at sev­er­al spots along the riv­er. From below Lake Almanor down­stream to Belden Bridge, enjoy a no-restric­tion, five-fish lim­it from the last Sat­ur­day in April through the mid­dle of Novem­ber. The sec­tion from Cres­ta Pow­er­house down­stream to Lake Oroville is open year-round with­out restrictions.

Mid­dle Fork

Of the three forks that feed Lake Oroville, the Mid­dle Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er is the only one undammed, so it remains wild and scenic. The riv­er gra­di­ent varies from gen­tle at the upper end to very steep in the deep canyons of the low­er reach­es. The adja­cent lands range from the most prim­i­tive imag­in­able to man­i­cured golf cours­es and res­i­den­tial area. In the wild sec­tions, huge boul­ders, cliffs and water­falls are a part of the nat­ur­al beau­ty of the area, but can make nav­i­gat­ing the riv­er and hik­ing difficult.


For kayak­ers and rafters up for one of the most chal­leng­ing sec­tions of white­wa­ter any­where, the Mid­dle Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er serves up 32 miles of Class V rapids in a remote, pris­tine canyon. The riv­er was des­ig­nat­ed as one of the orig­i­nal eight wild and scenic rivers by Con­gress, and is known through­out the West as one of the pre­mière white­wa­ter descents in the state. Expe­ri­enced white­wa­ter kayak­ers take 3 to 4 days for the self-sup­port­ed trip.


Those look­ing for fish­ing spots will enjoy access to both warm- and cold-water fish. The Mid­dle Fork is full of rif­fles, runs, and holes that receive very lit­tle pres­sure through­out the sea­son. The wild and stocked brown and rain­bow trout are known to be hard-fight­ing fish, so come pre­pared for a fight.

The Mid­dle Fork’s History

The Mid­dle Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er was one of eight char­ter” rivers des­ig­nat­ed with the pas­sage of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act in 1968. Of the 77.6 miles of the Mid­dle Fork of the Feath­er Riv­er des­ig­nat­ed as Wild & Scenic, 32.9 miles are wild (gen­er­al­ly inac­ces­si­ble except by trail), 9.7 miles are scenic (acces­si­ble in places by roads but large­ly unde­vel­oped), and 35 miles are recre­ation­al (read­i­ly acces­si­ble by road/​railroad with some devel­op­ment along the shore).

His­to­ry & Usage

The Feath­er Riv­er and its forks were a cen­ter of gold min­ing dur­ing the 19th cen­tu­ry.

Since the 1960s, the riv­er has pro­vid­ed water to cen­tral and south­ern Cal­i­for­nia as the main source of water for the Cal­i­for­nia State Water Project. Its water is also used for hydro­elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion. The aver­age annu­al flow of the Feath­er Riv­er is more than 7 mil­lion acre feet.

Water from the Feath­er Riv­er is heav­i­ly used and divert­ed into irri­ga­tion ditch­es for agri­cul­tur­al pur­pos­es. The riv­er has formed sev­er­al val­leys, includ­ing Indi­an Val­ley and Amer­i­can Val­ley, which are used pri­mar­i­ly for graz­ing, hay pro­duc­tion, and agri­cul­ture. The site of the river’s head­wa­ters, Sier­ra Val­ley, is the largest high-alpine mead­ow with­in the con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States, and is an impor­tant stopover site for migra­to­ry birds.