California's Main Gold-Bearing Rivers, Part 3

(Cleer Creek as it empties into the Klamath River.)

Northern California contains some of the best small-scale and recreational placer mining streams in the state. In this, my 3rd and final post on the subject, we'll take a look at these classic auriferous rivers of and their tributaries.


Northern California

Klamath River: Located in extreme Northern California's Siskiyou County (like the Scott and Salmon Rivers), the Klamath has to be one of the most rugged and spectacular gold-bearing rivers in the entire Golden State. Placer gold exists in varying quantities for much of its course, as well as in most tributaries feeding the Klamath. The Klamath offers miners just about every conceivable type of gold-bearing placer ground, including areas suitable for suction dredging, sluicing, drywashing, highbanking, and sniping.

This wild river is near and dear to my own heart. As a child I lived for a number of years in Yreka which is the Siskiyou County seat and spent many childhood days fishing and exploring the Klamath and nearby creeks and streams. My grandfather owned a great deal of property just off the Montague Highway east of Yreka and is commemorated by having Campbell Drive named after him. (On a sadder note, my mother is buried in the Yreka Cemetery.)

Get Rugged. Visit Today!

But I digress here. Take heed of the fact that much of the Klamath is pretty much claimed up these days like many other auriferous rivers in California. Also, there has been a constant struggle over water rights and attempts to end suction dredging along the Klamath River by rabid environmentalists and local Native American tribes.

If you want to learn more about gold on the Klamath I suggest you contact Dave McCracken at the New 49ers Prospecting Association ( Dave knows more about mining on the Klamath than any dozen miners put together.

Salmon River: The Salmon River offers the same gold recovery possibilities as the Klamath, only scaled down a bit. Much placer work was done along the Salmon in the old days, including hydraulicking, so keep your eye out for those inevitable old tailings piles. Like the Klamath, many parts of the Salmon River are wild and scenic, especially those areas a bit harder to reach. These areas are the most likely to hold the best gold values as well.

Scott River: Most of the extensive mining along the Scott River was done in the narrower and harder-to-reach canyons of the river's course. It's not uncommon to have steep hills and mountains rising up almost from the water’s edge, but at the same time the Scott will meander for portions of its length leaving behind extensive gravel bars and bench gravels. In the old days, some of these inside bend gravel "bars" were quite rich in placer gold.


East Fork of the San Gabriel River: Although not what I would consider a main California gold-bearing river, the E. Fork of the San Gabriel does deserve mention here. For more info, please read my posts on the E. Fork beginning with:

Kern River: An anomaly of sorts, the Kern is situated some 150 miles south of the Motherlode's Southern Mines and north and east of the Southern California metro areas. More on the Kern's gold potential can be found at:

Good luck and may shiny yellow metal fill your pan.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "California's Main Gold-Bearing Rivers, Part 2"

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Do you have any information on the Eel and Van Duzen Rivers in Humboldt and Trinity Counties?

  2. I don' least not at hand. But the Trinity area is rich in gold. Shoot me an e-mail and I can send you some info. Thanks for commenting. Jim


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