The Middle Fork Feather River in the northern Sierra Nevada was one of the original six rivers and the only California waterway protected with the initial establishment of the federal system in 1968. Near the town of Beckwourth, the river flows west from the edge of the Sierra Valley, meanders through bucolic Mohawk Valley, and then enters the rugged and dramatic Franklin, Devil, and Bald Rock Canyons, ultimately flowing into Oroville Reservoir.
The Middle Fork’s protected outstandingly remarkable values include scenery, recreation, and fish. The western segment of the river flows through a deep granite canyon choked with huge boulders and dominated by Bald Dome. Middle Fork tributaries tumble into the canyon over dramatic waterfalls, including 640-foot high Feather Falls (which is created by the Fall River). The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the river and other steep backcountry trails provide access for adventurous anglers, hunters, and hikers. The river is also prized by expert kayakers and rafters as providing one of the most remote and demanding whitewater adventures in the state. The Middle Fork also supports one of the best wild trout fisheries in California.
The lower 36 miles of the river flows through a 35,000 acre roadless area crossed by one road at Milsap Bar. The roadless character of the Middle Fork watershed is an important contributing factor to the river’s high biotic integrity, excellent water quality, and wild trout fishery. Designated by Congress in 1968 killed an irrigation district’s plan to build a series of hydroelectric diversion dams and powerhouses that would have destroyed much of the Middle Fork’s natural values.