The Clavey River is one of the longest undammed rivers in the Sierra Nevada. The Clavey flows from its source in alpine lakes in the Emigrant Wilderness (north of Yosemite National Park) for 47 miles to its confluence with the Tuolumne Wild & Scenic River. Boulders from the Clavey River help form the infamous class V rapid on the Tuolumne known as Clavey Falls.
The Clavey River canyon is virtually undeveloped, except for occasional road crossings. Its upper tributaries, Bell and Lily creeks provide trailheads into the Emigrant Wilderness. But for much of its length, people who wish to explore the wild Clavey must do so without the benefit of trails or roads. A handful of expert kayakers challenge the river's class V rapids during the Spring run-off, and whitewater boaters on the Tuolumne often hike up the river a short ways to swim in the Clavey's deep pools. But most of the river receives very little human visitation.
The Clavey is considered to be one of the most biologically and ecologically rich watersheds in the Sierra. Flowing from more then 9,000 feet in elevation to 1,200 feet, the river canyon encompasses all but one of the ecological life zones of the Sierra Nevada. Its upper tributaries flow through lush meadows surrounded by quaking aspen. The Clavey's upper canyon also supports a large stand of ancient forest that is home to the California spotted owl, Pacific fisher, and many other old growth forest dependent species. Further downstream, the river flows through a rocky and brushy canyon typical of the Sierra foothills. The river also hosts a full assemblage of native fish species, which has become rare in most other Sierra watersheds. In recognition of the river's wild native trout, the California Department of Fish & Game has designated the Clavey a Wild Trout Stream.
How To Get There
From the town of Sonora on Hwy 108, take County Road E17 (Cottonwood Road) east for approximately 25 miles to where the road crosses the Clavey River. During seasonally low flows, the Clavey provides some wonderful swimming holes near the road crossing.
Recreation And Visitor Information
For maps and additional recreation information, contact the Forest Service's Stanislaus National Forest office at 19777 Greenley Road, Sonora CA 95370, phone: (209) 532-3671.