Upper Clear Creek Loveland Ski Area to Georgetown
Length of Trip: 13 miles (from Loveland),
12 miles (from Bakersfield)
Gradient: 157ft/mile (from Loveland),
121ft/mile (from Bakersfield)
Difficulty: Class V to VI-
Water Flows: June-July
Flow: No gauge to my knowledge. If it looks like it might have just enough water, then the water level is perfect.
Call Watertalk @ 831-7135, Division 1, Station 23, for the Gauge at Lawson. The gauge was reporting 566 when I ran this section above Georgetown.
Scenery: A-B There are stretches away from the highway that make this section very pretty, but the sections along the highway detract from the visual aesthetics and the highway noise compounds the problem. This run does not lend itself very well for your viewing pleasure unless you are scouting.
Put-In: I-70 west of Denver, heading west take the Loveland pass exit, then left after going under I-70 as if getting back on the Highway. Turn right into the Loveland Ski area. We put in just below the last bridge east of the parking area. This is private property, the best put-in would be the Bakersfield Exit off of I-70.
Take-Out: In the town of Georgetown, west end of the lake where Clear Creek enters the lake. There is parking behind the condos, and a public foot bridge. There are no good eddies to take out here, but the water is not moving very fast. Beware that there is a very low pipe under the bridge, so take out above the foot bridge. The bridge and pipe are visible from upstream.
Description: The upper run of this section is a high altitude run, that is almost at tree line. Loveland to Bakersville is a meandering fun little section that is a bit scratchy, yet class IV due to tight turns. Your eddy catching with bush grabbing skills should be honed. Below Bakersville this run turns class V. The river starts out with river wide holes built with logs for better fishing. The first class V drop will have I-70 on you left, and a rock wall on the right. I would like to call this first drop: "Blind Mans Boof", based on the first descent, where Will Gadd boofed the center rock and dropped off into space, solely based on my hand signals. Scout left. This run has lots of fun rapids, logs, tunnels under I-70, (please scout the tunnels) to keep you amused. Just upstream of Silver Plum is a long Class V rapid which leads into a tunnel under I-70. The Silver Plum exit, then head west on the frontage road will allow you to vehicle scout this rapid. If you have any problems with this rapid, take out in Silver Plum! Silver Plum has several bridges that you will have to duck/roll to get under.
On the east side of Silver Plum is another I-70 tunnel, portage this tunnel and the rapid just below it. The rapid on the other side of the tunnel is a class VII cascade which if you stay upright, you might survive. Put back in where you feel comfortable. I put in at the Railroad bridge. From this point, down, this section is class VI-. The eddies are about one boat in size every half mile or so. Scout everything. There are trees, steel, railroad timbers and all sorts of junk in this section. It is harder than it looks, when you have walked downstream, picking your line, and you turn around to review it in reverse, you will find the gradient will give you a crink in the neck looking back up. If you get as far as town, be prepared to roll under bridges or portage them, depending on flow.
This run is extreme. Swimming is not allowed. I would recommend that this be a kayak run only, with the kayak being a creek style boat with a keyhole cockpit. C-1s, duckies will have a tuff time getting under bridges. Rafts just will not fit.