Photo Credit Cheryl Wood
The Lower Feather River Craves for Discovery
Prepare to spend hours of discovery paddling down the Feather River in the Great Central Valley, located 65 miles north of Sacramento. Paddlers come here to enjoy the peace and solitude away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Flat water kayaking and canoeing opportunities are plentiful on the Lower Feather River along the more gentle stretches beneath Lake Oroville’s dam. At about 770 feet high, the Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States. By controlling the flow of the Feather River, it creates one of the largest reservoirs in the state of California.
The winding Feather River is lined with lush greenery to delight your senses as you paddle through willow and cottonwood-lined channels. You’ll pass through peaceful meadows with scenic inlets along the way. The river is surrounded by rolling hills covered with dense vegetation that clings to the banks of the river, making it a popular destination to view fall foliage. In spring, wildflowers bring vibrant color to the countryside.
A maze of winding, merging waterways begs to be explored. Take in the rich, fast-changing terrain, scattered pine, oak, and fern trees, and rock outcroppings, while keeping a sharp eye out along the way for the abundance of wildlife that feed along the river’s bank. You’re likely to see coyotes, fox, river otters, plenty of deer and even a few beavers.
The Feather River is the principal tributary of the Sacramento River. The river's main stem is about 71 miles long, and forms the boundary between Yuba County and Sutter County. The main stem drains from a west branch and three separate forks (north, middle, and south) in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. All three forks plus the west branch unite in Lake Oroville in Butte County. The middle fork also has a fork called "little north fork" that merges with it upstream from Lake Oroville. After the Feather River flows south from Lake Oroville, the Yuba River and then the Bear River flow into it. The Feather River continues south and flows into the Sacramento River.
Just beneath the Lake Oroville dam, there is slow moving current where flat water paddlers of all sorts come to play. This area below the dam is called Burma Road Recreation Area - Thermalito Diversion Pool. The Thermalito Diversion Pool is located on the Feather River, about 4.5 miles downstream from Oroville Dam. This flat section of the river is approximately 6 miles long. Electric motors are the only type of motors allowed on vessels in the Diversion Pool, which also provides fishing and swimming opportunities. But be forewarned, the water is cold year-round in this section of the river as it is drawn from 200-500 feet down in Lake Oroville, which is about 1000 feet deep.
Fishing for steelhead is a popular activity in the low-flow section between Oroville and Thermalito. Largemouth and striped bass, bluegill, green sunfish, shad, channel catfish, and black crappie can also be found in the numerous dredger ponds and the Thermalito Afterbay. Fishing is allowed year round. Kayak anglers are also known to catch coho salmon in the Diversion Pool. The Department of Fish and Game believe the coho salmon in the Division Pool are a result of water going over the Oroville Dam spillway.
You can put-in at Burma Road, east of Cherokee Road near Oroville, on the west side of the Thermalito Diversion Pool Day-Use Area. The public shoreline access point, which is in the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, is located just south of the vault restroom on Burma Road.