The Pit River before it enters the canyons west of Canby, California
|Name origin: Achomawi pitfall traps|
|Region||Upper Sacramento hydrologic area|
|Districts||Modoc, Lassen, & Shasta counties|
|Part of||Sacramento River|
|- left||Ash Creek|
|- right||Squaw Creek, McCloud River|
|Primary source||North Fork Pit River|
|- location||Goose Lake (Historic), Modoc County|
|- elevation||4,700 ft (1,433 m)|
|Secondary source||South Fork Pit River|
|- location||West Valley Creek, Modoc County|
|Source confluence||South Fork Valley, north end|
|- location||south of Alturas, Modoc County|
|- elevation||4,350 ft (1,326 m)|
|- location||Near Ydalpom, Shasta County|
|- elevation||1,066 ft (325 m)|
|Length||207 mi (333 km), Northeast-Southwest |
|Basin||7,064 sq mi (18,296 km2) :a|
|- average||6,291 cu ft/s (178 m3/s) Avg. downriver of Squaw Creek confluence, max and min at Montgomery Creek gage|
|- max||73,000 cu ft/s (2,067 m3/s)|
|- min||30 cu ft/s (1 m3/s)|
The Pit River is a major river draining from northeastern California into the state's Central Valley. The Pit, the Klamath and the Columbia are the only three rivers in the U.S. that cross the Cascade Range.
The longest tributary of the Sacramento River, it contributes as much as eighty percent of their combined water volume into Lake Shasta; the junction of their Lake Shasta arms is 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Shasta Dam. The main stem of the Pit River is 207 miles (333 km) long, and some water in the system flows 315 miles (507 km) to the Sacramento River measuring from the Pit River's longest source.
The Pit River drains a sparsely populated volcanic highlands area, passing through the south end of the Cascade Range in a deep canyon northeast of Redding. The river is so named because of the pits the Achumawi dug to trap game that came to water at the river.
The Pit River rises in several forks in Modoc, Lassen and Shasta counties in the northeastern corner of California. Originating in the Warner Mountains. The 58-mile (93 km) South Fork Pit River - West Valley Creek - Cedar Creek source originates just southeast of Buck Mountain in the Warner Mountains in the extreme southeastern corner of the Modoc National Forest 9 miles (14 km) west of the Nevada border. The South Fork is formed from the confluence of several creeks in Jess Valley 13 miles (21 km) northeast of Madeline and flows west through a narrow canyon, past Likely, then generally through a broad ranching valley where its waters are diverted for irrigation and waterfowl conservation in an extensive system of canals. The 30-mile (48 km) long North Fork - Linnville Creek tributary begins 5 miles (8.0 km) southeast of the town of Davis Creek. It flows generally south-southwest, joining the South Fork from the north near Alturas.
The combined river flows west-southwest in a winding course across Modoc County, past Canby and through the Modoc National Forest in the narrow Stonecoal Valley gorge. It turns south to flow past Lookout and into northern Lassen County, past Bieber to emerge into the ranching region of Big Valley. North of Little Valley it runs east into northeastern Shasta County, passing through the Cascades in a serpentine canyon in the Shasta National Forest. It flows through the Fall River Valley Joining the Fall River. Together they span much of the Valley forming one of the largest systems of fresh water springs in the country while passing through the Town of Fall River Mills and culminating in two spectacular waterfalls. It then flows south to join the Sacramento River as the eastern arm of Shasta Lake reservoir, approximately 15 mi (24 km) north of Redding. The lower 30 mi (50 km) of the river forms the longest of the five arms of Lake Shasta, which is formed by Shasta Dam on the Sacramento downstream from the original confluence.
The river is a popular destination for fly fishing, rafting in its lower reaches, and is used for hydroelectric energy both in the powerhouses below Fall River Mills and at Shasta Dam. It is also used extensively for irrigation and conservation purposes.
The Pit River is impounded by several dams:
The Pit River is located in historical Achomawi territory, who lived in the area expanding from Big Bend to Goose Lake. The military Pitt River Expeditions against local Indian Tribes occurred during the 1850s.
- Secrest, William B (2003). When the Great Spirit Died: the Destruction of the California Indians, 1850-1860 (Google Books). p. 235. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 10, 2011
- "Boundary Descriptions and Names of Regions, Subregions, Accounting Units and Cataloging Units". USGS.gov. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
a. "sum of USGS watershed values (Lower Pit + McCloud + Upper Pit + Goose Lake)". Google Calculator. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- "gage downriver of Squaw Creek confluence". Retrieved 2010-09-24.
"gage for McCloud inflow to Pit River". Retrieved 2010-09-24.
- "Query Form For The United States And Its Territories". U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- Welcome to the Pit River Watershed Alliance
- "Modoc County" (watersheds map with url list). Surf Your Watershed. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- Carl Waldman (September 2006). Encyclopedia of Native American tribes. Infobase Publishing. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-8160-6274-4. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
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