South Fork Kings River
|South Fork Kings River|
Headwaters of the South Fork Kings River
|- left||Woods Creek, Bubbs Creek, Roaring River, Boulder Creek|
|- right||Lewis Creek, Grizzly Creek|
|Source||Near Mount Bolton Brown|
|- location||Sierra Nevada|
|- elevation||11,601 ft (3,536 m)|
|- location||Kings Canyon|
|- elevation||2,257 ft (688 m)|
|- coordinates||Coordinates: |
|Length||44.1 mi (71 km) |
|Basin||476 sq mi (1,233 km2) |
|Discharge||for Cedar Grove|
|- average||656 cu ft/s (19 m3/s) |
|- max||13,900 cu ft/s (394 m3/s)|
|- min||56 cu ft/s (2 m3/s)|
Map of the Kings River watershed, including the South Fork
The South Fork Kings River is a 44.1-mile (71.0 km) tributary of the Kings River in the Sierra Nevada of Fresno County, California. The river forms part of Kings Canyon, the namesake of Kings Canyon National Park and one of the deepest canyons in North America with a maximum relief of 8,200 feet (2,500 m) from rim to river.
The South Fork is the largest headwater of the Kings River. It originates at an elevation of 11,601 feet (3,536 m) at an unnamed lake in Kings Canyon National Park, south of Mather Pass and west of Split Mountain, in a high alpine basin known as Upper Basin. It flows south, and is paralleled for several miles by the combined Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail. The trail and river separate at a point west of Taboose Pass, where the river turns to the southwest through a deep gorge between Cirque Crest to the northwest and Arrow Ridge to the southeast. To the east, the Muro Blanco cliffs rise more than half a mile (0.8 km) above the river.
The river flows into Paradise Valley, where it flows in a south-southwest direction, and receives Woods Creek from the east directly below a footbridge that carries the Woods Creek Trail over the river. Until this point the river has been more or less continuous whitewater; in Paradise Valley the gradient lessens and the current slows. Below Paradise Valley the river once again flows through a narrow gorge where it drops 100 feet (30 m) over Mist Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the park.
It then enters Kings Canyon, a glacial valley with a flat meadow floor surrounded by granite cliffs, which has been compared by John Muir and others to Yosemite Valley in terms of appearance and geology. It receives Bubbs Creek, and turns due west, flowing gently through grassy flats including Zumwalt Meadow, occasionally forming rapids where it breaches ancient glacial moraines. It receives its largest tributary, Roaring River, from the south and passes through Cedar Grove, home to many campgrounds and visitor facilities.
Further west the river reaches the deepest part of Kings Canyon, where Highway 180 follows the river closely for several miles, and Boulder Creek enters from the south. Boyden Cavern lies adjacent to the river just above Horseshoe Bend, the steepest and narrowest part of the canyon. The river joins with the Middle Fork Kings River in the Monarch Wilderness, just outside Kings Canyon National Park, to form the main stem of the Kings River.
There are records of Chinook salmon presence 10–12 miles above Pine Flat, possibly including the South Fork, before the 1940s. Woodhull and Dill (1942) noted that salmon ascend about 10 to 12 mi beyond the present upper extent of the reservoir and salmon migration in the Kings River probably ascended no farther than the confluence of the North Fork. Yoshiyama and Moyle also noted that there is an undocumented note of “a few salmon” having occurred much farther upstream at Cedar Grove (28 mi above present-day Pine Flat Reservoir) in the past.
According to the California Department of Fish and Game, "many of the waters in the headwaters of the South Fork Kings River and several tributary streams and lakes were also planted with California golden trout from GTC (Golden Trout Creek) between 1909 and 1914." As of 2012[update] the California Department of Fish and Game fish data base from their surveys indicate that only rainbow trout, brown trout and Sacramento sucker are found in the South Fork Kings River. The Park Service used to stock rainbow trout in the river, but terminated the practice in the 1980s in favor of letting the fishery return to more natural conditions. However, the South Fork is still considered excellent water for fly fishing in Kings Canyon.
- "South Fork Kings River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 1981-01-19. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
- "National Hydrography Dataset via National Map Viewer". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- "USGS Gage #11212500 South Fork Kings River near Cedar Grove, CA". National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. Dec 1950 – Sep 1957. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- "Description of the Parks" (PDF). Sequoia and Kings Canyon Fire Management Plan. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2006-11-25.
- United States Geological Survey (USGS). "United States Geological Survey Topographic Map: Mount Pinchot, California quad". TopoQuest. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- United States Geological Survey (USGS). "United States Geological Survey Topographic Map: Marion Peak, California quad". TopoQuest. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- United States Geological Survey (USGS). "United States Geological Survey Topographic Map: The Sphinx, California quad". TopoQuest. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- "Cedar Grove Trails". Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- "A Rival of the Yosemite". The Century. 43 (1): 77–97. Nov 1891.
- United States Geological Survey (USGS). "United States Geological Survey Topographic Map: Cedar Grove, California quad". TopoQuest. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- United States Geological Survey (USGS). "United States Geological Survey Topographic Map: Wren Peak, California quad". TopoQuest. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- Historical and Present Distribution of Chinook Salmon in the Central Valley Drainage of California, Pages 81 to 84, Ronald M. Yoshiyama, Eric R. Gerstung, Frank W. Fisher, Fish Bulletin 179, 2001 http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/REsources/Reports/Bulletin179_V1.asp
- Stephens, McGuire, and Sims (Sept. 17, 2004) "Conservation Assessment and Strategy for the California Golden Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita) Tulare County, California, p.3
- Stephanie Mehalick, CDF&G
- "Fishing". Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- Roberts, Rich (1992-08-19). "Kings Canyon, the Forgotten National Park : For Fishing and Beauty, Cedar Grove Is Equal to Yosemite's Merced River". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-09-24.