A Kayaking Blog By Dan Simenc

Dinkey Creek Waterfalls

Dinkey Creek Waterfalls

Aug 18, 2011

Hidden amongst the manzanita and dirt backroads in the hills above Fresno, Dinkey Creek cascades down countless granite slides and waterfalls. After running the Royal Gorge, we rested for two days then headed South for another adventure down this gem of a creek.

The “Waterfalls” section of Dinkey Creek is short but sweet, and full of steep granite rapids punctuated by large pools. The run is usually done in two short days, but can be easily done in one by a proficient crew. We opted for a two-day trip to enjoy the nice camping in the canyon.

Our two-carload group of eager boaters met around a campfire at Ross Crossing to enjoy a few beers before catching some pre-run z’s. The next morning we drove a short distance up the road to a pull-out from which we hiked down into the canyon. A well-trodden trail tunnels through thick manzanita down a steep slope towards the creek. We quickly dragged and hauled our boats to the water’s edge in about an hour, then cooled off before gearing up for the first drop.

Gearing up to hike down into Dinkey Creek.

The run begins with a big slide that sets the tone for rest of the creek. Another fun slide awaits after a short pool, then another, and another. There isn’t much in between boogie water on dinkey; almost every drop is big and fun.

We quickly found ourselves at the infamous “throw and go” portage. We lowered the first couple boats down around this sieved-out waterfall to a ledge where assisted seal launches could be made into the water. After a couple people were in their boats to set safety we commenced to chuck the rest of our boats into the water and jump in after them. This is a very fun portage, but it can be dangerous. The rapid below the portage claimed the life of an expert Italian paddler this year. Caution must be heeded to avoid swimming into the rapid or chasing a boat down through it.

Below the portage we enjoyed a few more sweet drops before arriving at our beach campsite around 3:00 PM. We enjoyed the rest of the evening relaxing amongst the sand, water, and granite.

More big slides greeted us on the morning of day two. We smiled our way down a few miles of pure granite goodness before arriving at the take-out, where Dinkey Creek meets the North Fork of the Kings River.

Morning view of camp as seen by the group's only early-riser: Robby Hogg.

Fred Norquist slides down one of the first drops of day two.

Just above the confluence a powerful stream of water jets out across the creek from a large pipe on shore. Rush told us that on a previous trip he and several others paddled directly into the stream and were subsequently beaten by the jet of water into the opposing shore. We all ducked under the stream on the far right side and laughed thinking about the carnage the hose could dish out.

Dinkey Creek is one of the most action-packed runs in California, but the smooth granite character make the drops relatively forgiving. This run is one of the many classics that make California one of the world’s best paddling destinations, and it is a must-do for any capable boater. Enjoy the video!

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