This is known as the Wilderness Run. It is called this because unlike lower sections of Cache Creek, this section is completely roadless, and is uninhabited. Be aware that once you go in, you have to go all the way to the Bear Creek confluence before you see civilization again. For most of us, this is the appeal of the float. You will see gorgeous scenery, maybe spot a few bald eagles, see some bear tracks on sandbars, waterfalls, and some fun rapids. If you are watchful, you can find some good spots to pick blackberries along the way.
The run is Class 2 with the only Class 3 being the Mad-Mike rapid near the Bear Creek confluence. Be on the lookout for strainers and sweepers, and the odd rock formations that can force you into the banks. This is not a terribly hard float, but is definitely not for people who think they can do it in an inner tube. Have either and inflatable or hardshell kayak, and know what you are doing with it. People do have to be rescued from this area occasionally. Of course, it is because they go unprepared. One group of hunters tried to go down in a flat-bottomed aluminum boat and it capsized, losing all their gear, and forcing them to be pulled out. I don't want to scare you away, but be aware it is a wild area. It takes about 6 to 9 hours to float from Highway 20 to the Bear Creek confluence, including stops at the waterfalls, and a stop for lunch.
The total river distance is 19 miles. Optimum flows during summer water releases are 550cfs and above. Yolo Flood provides the realtime reservoir releases below:
How to Get There:
From Yolo County, Woodland and Davis, take Highway 16 through the Capay Valley. As you drive up the Capay Valley, be sure to look to your left and try to pick out Berryessa Peak. It is the one with the transmitting towers on the top.
Drive up Highway 16 through the Capay Valley. At the Bear Creek confluence, be on the lookout for a pullout on the south side of the road, on the side closest to Bear Creek. This is one good place to pull-out. If you have the time and want to make it a longer float, you can pull out at any one of the three county parks you passed on the way up. The upper park site is the best, as it is less used, and your car is not off the side of the highway.
The put-in is on the North Fork of Cache Creek off Highway 20. Take Highway 16 up the Capay Valley until you get to the highway 16, Highway 20 intersection. Take Highway 20 until you cross the north fork of Cache Creek. Make a left at the BLM trailhead sign, and park at the parking area. You put in on the north fork of Cache Creek right next to the parking area.
Map of the Wilderness Run on Cache Creek
Available here is a map of the Wilderness Run on Cache Creek. The map shows the location of rapids that are significant or that typically cause problems for beginning paddlers. A brief description for each rapid includes a suggested best route through the drop.
Note: there are many rapids on the Wilderness Run that are not marked on the map.
The map and descriptions are in two formats.
Map and Description Format
The first format has the entire map on one page and the descriptions on another page. The two pages can be placed back to back inside a waterproof bag (such as a large Ziploc) to carry on deck while paddling. These are available at: Wilderness Run Map Wilderness Run Descriptions
The map should be printed in Landscape mode and shrunk to fit on one page.
Split Map Format
The second format splits the map into two sections with the associated descriptions on the same page. This format works well for an overnight with camping at the Campsite Rapid. These two maps are at: Wilderness Run Map #1 Wilderness Run Map #2
For both maps, select Portrait for the paper orientation. And also Shrink to Fit or something similar to make the map fit on one page.
The waypoints for the drops on the map are available in a GPX file.