Wild and Scenic Rivers Logo
Smith River
Tributary Line
Designated Rivers
River Information
River, Trails and Conservation Assistance
Wild and Scenic Rivers Council
Study Rivers
About Wild and Scenic Rivers
Agency Guidelines
Complete Site Index
River Management Agencies
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
Nationwide Rivers Inventory
River Mouth
California Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Smith River National Recreation Area
Post Office Box 228
Gasquet, California 95543

Smith RiverDesignated Reach: January 19, 1981 and November 16, 1990. The segment from the confluence of the Middle Fork Smith River and the North Fork Smith River to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. The Middle Fork from its the headwaters to its confluence with the North Fork Smith River, including Myrtle Creek, Shelly Creek, Kelly Creek, Packsaddle Creek, the East Fork of Patrick Creek, the West Fork Patrick Creek, Little Jones Creek, Griffin Creek, Knopki Creek, Monkey Creek, Patrick Creek, and Hardscrabble Creek. The Siskiyou from its headwaters to its confluence with the Middle Fork, including the South Siskyou Fork of the Smith River. The South Fork from its headwaters to its confluence with the main stem, including Williams Creek, Eightmile Creek, Harrington Creek, Prescott Fork, Quartz Creek, Jones Creek, Hurdygurdy Creek, Gordon Creek, Coon Creek, Craigs Creek, Goose Creek, the East Fork of Goose Creek, Buch Creek, Muzzleloader Creek, Canthook Creek, Rock Creek, and Blackhawk Creek. The North Fork from the California-Oregon border to its confluence with the Middle Fork of the Smith River, including Diamond Creek, Bear Creek, Still Creek, the North Fork of Diamond Creek, High Plateau Creek, Stony Creek, and Peridotite Creek.

Classification/Mileage: Wild -- 78.0 miles; Scenic -- 31.0 miles; Recreational -- 216.4 miles; Total -- 325.4 miles.

The Smith River is one of the crown jewels of the National Wild and Scenic River System, which recognizes and protects rivers across the country. More than three hundred miles of the Smith River System are designated wild and scenic, more than any other river in the country. The emerald-green Smith River flows freely and naturally, without a single dam, for its entire length -- the only major system in California to do so.

The Smith River National Recreation Area (NRA) is located in the northwest corner of California and is managed by the Six Rivers National Forest. The NRA was created by Congress in 1990 to protect the area's special scenic value, natural diversity, cultural and historical attributes, wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, and the Smith River watershed's clean waters. The Forest Service has been designated as the steward of the NRA to provide recreational opportunites and to manage this diverse area for all of its valuable resources.

The Wild and Scenic Smith River is seasonal with highlights in each season. When winter rains arrive, the three forks and countless creeks drain a beautiful, rugged terrain of steep, rocky canyons, and torrential rains may bring the almost immediate whitewater conditions so avidly sought by kayakers. The Smith River abounds with Class IV and V rapids on all three forks, and has many miles of steep creeking waters. Its 145 miles of navigable whitewater require a fairly high degree of technical skills by the boater. Once the three forks join to form the mainstem, the land levels out and the last 16 miles to the ocean present less demanding conditions (level I-II in medium flows). Just past the confluence of the Middle Fork and South Fork, the river leaves the NRA and flows through the Redwood National and State Parks, with stunning views of the giant redwoods and great summer floating in Class I and II waters. The Smith River offers surprises for even the most seasoned boater --- some rapids may change little for many years, others are different every year and each season offers something new.

Other recreational highlights along the Smith River include fish watching, steelhead and salmon fishing, waterfalls, swimming or snorkeling in deep natural pools of clear and emerald water, tubing and rafting, hiking along back-country and wilderness trails, and mountain biking. Wildlife and beautiful flowers are abundant --- Pacific dogwoods, azaleas, rhododendrons, ladyslipper orchids, lilies; and in the fall, stunning fall colors and berry picking.

The Smith River National Recreation Area invites you to a scenic playground encompassing more than 450 square miles of densely forested mountains, pristine botanical areas, remote wilderness landscapes, high-mountain lakes, and rocky canyons. Weaving through this natural wonderland are over 300 miles of the Smith River and its forks and streams, plus 75 miles of hiking trails and several hundred miles of roads, including 27 miles of the Smith River Scenic Byway.

The river is an important stream for fish. Towering trees along its banks provide shaded conditions necessary for cold-water species as it passes through the Smith River National Recreation Area and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods National and State Park on its way to the Pacific Ocean.

  • To print this page, set your printer to landscape.
  • This web site uses pop-up windows -- no advertising.
  • Last Updated: