Transition to Ned’s Gulch (IV+/IV)
Trying to make the most of our meager, California spring we spent a day on the Merced River just outside of Yosemite National Park. I really enjoy this section and I’m surprised I don’t hear more about it. The shuttle is as simple as possible (all roadside), the rapids are fairly continuous with almost no flatwater to paddle through (though plenty of ripple class II below the 140 bridge), and if all else fails you can just go spend the day in the Valley.
I’m referring to this section as “Transition to Ned’s Gulch” because we put-in at the transition point between class V and IV+ rapids. Most online sources talk about this section with the put-in at the gas station, however, if you put in there you will miss two of the high quality IV+ rapids. Therefore we drove another 3/4 mile upstream for our put-in.
We put on above the Gas Station with flows around 1600 cfs. Above the park boundary the river is solid V+ but quickly tapers down through IV+ to IV to III within a few miles of the boundary. Our put-in can be identified by a broken concrete structure on river right that overhangs the river by a few feet (we actually put on one rapid below this but last year we seal launched from the concrete). At the flow we ran it at there are about 4 distinct rapids between the V-IV+ transition to 140 bridge, all of which are thoroughly enjoyable and challenging for an aspiring class V boater.
Below the 140 bridge the difficulty steps down to class IV and remains at this difficult or lower for the rest of the run. We didn’t stop for pictures too often so I just shot a few.