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Sly Creek Reservoir

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Trail stats

Distance
7.01 nm
Elevation gain
10 ft
Technical difficulty
Easy
Elevation loss
10 ft
Max elevation
3,579 ft
TrailRank 
32
Min elevation
3,445 ft
Trail type
Loop
Time
4 hours 57 minutes
Coordinates
2869
Uploaded
October 26, 2023
Recorded
September 2023
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near Eagleville, California (United States)

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Itinerary description

Sly Creek Reservoir was a fun kayak with pretty scenery and is easily accessible. There were very few people on the water on a warm Saturday. Both arms narrow down into creeks and are twisty enough to lose sight of the rest of the lake which I think makes it more interesting. We won the power boat lottery because there weren’t any till we were leaving but I don’t know what is typical. Unexpected discoveries include two tunnels, a Ford pickup parked in the lake, several ospreys and their nests.

Paddling the whole lake was a real workout for my companions in a 9’ inflatable kayak and on a paddle board, but not bad in a longer kayak even with a freeloading dog.

That day there was no wind till midafternoon and then it was not very strong. In the couple of weeks between a scouting report of the lake being full it was down enough to shorten how far up the arms and coves we could go. But many of the pretty rocks, the stump spiders, truck and tunnels would have been under water if it was full.

The tunnels near the far end of the longer arm come from the South Fork and Slate Creek Diversion Dams and are used to deliver water into the reservoir. Both diversion dams are about 2.5 miles away. The outlets are below the reservoir’s high water line. Water was half filling the tunnels in the reservoir and they are large enough to paddle into, though warning signs say not to. There was no current from the tunnels at that level but a satellite photo showed white water can gush out when in use. I haven’t been to either diversion dam but I found satellite pictures showing the tunnel inlets can be above their waterlines. From these clues I think the water transfer is controlled by the levels of the diversion dams and there will never be water at navigable levels at both ends.

We saw people fishing and a school of fish in shallow water. The lake is good for swimming too.

The roads from highway 20 are paved and mostly good quality but with some holes to dodge towards the end. There was plenty of parking when we were there, two side by side concrete launch ramps, bathrooms, but no fees. I recommend getting ice cream at Collins Lake on the trip home.

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