Upper East Fork of the Carson River
Wolf Creek Road to Hangman’s Bridge
Length: 7.5 miles/ 2 hours
Gradient: 60 ft/mile
Permits: none required
Talk on the East Fork of the Carson centers on the Wilderness run. However, the day stretch on the Upper East Fork of the Carson River makes a nice afternoon float with an easy 40+ minute drive from South Lake Tahoe and Carson City.The shuttle is quick as the road follows the river providing easy scouting on the drive upstream and the ability to do shorter sections. Luckily in the spring many times the road is closed just upstream of put-in so there is minimal traffic. Other times the road is closed where 89 and 4 split forcing a shorter but still fun run.
The East Fork of the Carson is famous for housing the federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout, as well as brown and rainbow trout. Watch out for hooks and anglers as this river is a popular fishing destination.
Camping along the river is nice though many times a little cold, it is at 6000 feet. A convenient place to camp riverside is at the Carson River Resort. In addition there are also many places along the river that seem to lend themselves to free camping particularly at the put-in where there are pit-toilets.
Mile -0.25: Silver Creek Put-in
If you want a little more excitement in the way of some brushy Class III-IV follow the trail that leads up Silver Creek. If Highway 4 is open above here, a few more miles of bush whacking down Silver Creek could be had. It is also possible follow Wolf Creek Road farther upstream to run a stretch above here on the East Carson.
Mile 0: Main Put-in
The standard put-in is reached at the confluence of Silver Creek and the East Fork of the Carson by taking a well maintained trail that starts on top of a hill overlooking the confluence.
Running the River
While the rapids are mostly splashy class II, the continuous gradient, lack of eddies, and strainers makes this run solid class III. Swims can be long and the water is cold. Road scouting is helpful. The whitewater includes 2 or 3 drops spread out through the run that require more maneuvering and are class III, all can be seen from the road
Mile 7.5: Take out/Put-in
Take-out at Hangman’s Bridge on river right. This is the put-in for the Wilderness Run.
Mile 7.5 – 28.5: Wilderness Run
This twenty-one mile run can be done in one or two days. It has some beautiful camping and hot springs. Below is a video of the wilderness run. As the water drops 4-wheel drive vehicles will drive in and stay at the hot springs.