The Feather River is the principal tributary to the Sacramento River, and the main stem of the river begins in Lake Oroville. There, the Feather River's four long tributary forks join together—the South Fork, Wild and Scenic Middle Fork, North Fork, and West Branch Feather Rivers.
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.
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.
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.