Crystal River, North Fork - North Fork Crystal

Colorado-US  

Description

This is the only commonly run section of the North Fork of the Crystal River.  Like most of the area here, the run is short and feels more like kayak sledding than actual paddling.  That said, it's a wonderful excuse to spend some time in this exquisite corner of the world.  Access is via a 4WD drive road, but you'll be sorry if all you have is a Subaru.  Good clearance is a requirement.  

From the confluence with the South Fork, the road passes high above a narrow gorge with a precipitious drop off.  Although it looks enticing, the claim is that the gorge contains an runnable drop and is not worth the effort.  After exiting the gorge and at the border of the forest there's a scree slope with a relatively friendly gradient.  This is the take-out for the run.  A little over half a mile upstream is the put-in.  Because the run is so short, all the features are easily recognized via road/trail scouting.  

The first half of the run is the top 5 drops, which oddly enough are often called the top 4.  I'm not a "math expert" (well, I do have a B.S. in mathematics), but I count 5.  The usual protocol is to run laps on the top half until you can't take any more or you screw up a line and get scared.  The bottom half drops into a narrow gorge, and although it maintains significant gradient, the drops are much less clean and often chokes up with wood.  The entire gorge can be scouted from the rim.  A nasty undercut in the middle of the gorge is often portaged.  

 

The gauge on this run is far downstream. The recommended flows are based on the downstream gauge, not the actual amount of water in the run.

Statistics

KSC
Class V- to V
Current Flow 44.7 CFS
12-18-2018 05:00
Recommended Flow Minimum: 400.0
Average: 700.0
Maximum: 1500.0
Typical Season Begins: May
Ends: July
Recommended Use Kayaking: Yes
Rafting: No
Canoeing: No
SUP: No
Packrafting: No
Fishing: No
Primary Gauge CRYSTAL RIVER ABV AVALANCHE CRK, NEAR REDSTONE, CO
Length 0.6 Mile(s)
Gradient FPM
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North Fork Crystal Scenery

06-29-2013 -

Photo By: Kevin Cripps