Our Bear River journey winds through space and time. We'll tour the Bear from its headwaters high in the Sierra Nevada through its canyons and to the valley floor where it joins the Feather River. The Upper Bear River (5000-2100 feet elevation) starts at the headwaters near the intersection of Route 20 and I-80, and is bounded by Route 174 below Rollins Reservoir. The Middle Bear River (2100-300 feet elevation) is Sierra Foothill country along Route 49 and I-80, and descends to Camp Far West Reservoir. The Lower Bear River is the lower foothills and Sacramento Valley floor where the mouth of the Bear joins the Feather River near Route 70. Roads have driven the history of the Bear since the Emigrant Trail and the Transcontinental Railroad, and are why the Bear today is at the crossroads.
The three river elevation reaches have dramatically different character. The Upper Bear has its small streams and waterfalls (below, upper right inset) and meadows. The Middle Bear is heavily wooded canyonlands (center picture below), with rapids and pools between its reservoirs. The Lower Bear meanders through the lower foothills and valley floor (left inset below), with some magnificent and delightful surprises in its final drop from mountains to valley.
Begin your tour with the Upper Bear River …