Thomes Creek

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Thomes Creek
Thomes Creek.jpg
Thomes Creek near The Gorge
Relief map of California.png
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Location of mouth of Thomes Creek in California
Country United States
State California
Physical characteristics
Source Kingsley Lake
  location Mendocino National Forest, Tehama County
  coordinates 40°02′00″N122°56′30″W / 40.03333°N 122.94167°W / 40.03333; -122.94167 [1]
  elevation6,460 ft (1,970 m)
Mouth Sacramento River
near Tehama, Tehama County
39°59′26″N122°05′46″W / 39.99056°N 122.09611°W / 39.99056; -122.09611 Coordinates: 39°59′26″N122°05′46″W / 39.99056°N 122.09611°W / 39.99056; -122.09611 [1]
184 ft (56 m)
Length62 mi (100 km) [1]
Basin size300 sq mi (780 km2) [2]
  location Paskenta [3]
  average295.4 cu ft/s (8.36 m3/s) [3]
  minimum0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
  maximum37,800 cu ft/s (1,070 m3/s)

Thomes Creek is a major watercourse on the west side of the Sacramento Valley in Northern California. The creek originates in the Coast Ranges and flows east for about 62 miles (100 km) to join the Sacramento River, at a point about 7 miles (11 km) northeast of Corning in Tehama County. [1]

Sacramento Valley Northern part of the Central Valley in California, United States of America

The Sacramento Valley is the area of the Central Valley of the U.S. state of California that lies north of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta and is drained by the Sacramento River. It encompasses all or parts of ten Northern California counties. Although many areas of the Sacramento Valley are rural, it contains several urban areas, including the state capital, Sacramento.

Northern California Place in California, United States

Northern California is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. Spanning the state's northernmost 48 counties, its main population centers include the San Francisco Bay Area, the Greater Sacramento area, and the Metropolitan Fresno area. Northern California also contains redwood forests, along with the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite Valley and part of Lake Tahoe, Mount Shasta, and most of the Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions.

California Coast Ranges mountain range

The Coast Ranges of California span 400 miles (640 km) from Del Norte or Humboldt County, California, south to Santa Barbara County. The other three coastal California mountain ranges are the Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges and the Klamath Mountains.


Thomes Creek is a highly seasonal stream and drains a mostly rural watershed of some 300 square miles (780 km2). [2] There are no permanent dams on the creek, although there are some small diversions for agriculture and domestic water supply, and the overall water quality is considered good. [4] The upper 22 miles (35 km) of Thomes Creek are rated Class IV–V+ ("very difficult") for whitewater kayaking and rafting. [5] [6]

Name origin

Thomes Creek was named after Robert Hasty Thomes, a pioneer who arrived to the area in the 1840s. [7] [8] Thomes' name has been frequently mispronounced and misspelled, resulting in many officially-recorded variant names such as "Thomas Creek", "Thoms Creek" and "Toms Creek". [1] [8]


Thomes Creek begins at Kingsley Lake, a small pond at elevation 6,460 feet (1,970 m) [9] in the Mendocino National Forest. The lake is in a saddle between Solomon Peak, 7,566 feet (2,306 m) [10] and Sugarloaf Mountain, 7,362 feet (2,244 m) [11] near the Tehama-Trinity County line. The creek flows south through a deep valley for about 10 miles (16 km) and turns east at the confluence with Willow Creek. It passes through the narrow Thomes Gorge, also known simply as "The Gorge", and emerges from the mountains near Paskenta. From there it flows east-northeast through the semi-arid foothills of the Coast Ranges past Henleyville, Richfield and Tehama to join the Sacramento River at river mile 226 (km 364). [12]

Mendocino National Forest

The Mendocino National Forest is located in the Coastal Mountain Range in northwestern California and comprises 913,306 acres (3,696 km2). It is the only national forest in the state of California without a major paved road entering it. There are a variety of recreational opportunities — camping, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, backpacking, boating, fishing, hunting, nature study, photography, and off-highway vehicle travel.

Trinity County, California County in California, United States

Trinity County is a county in the northwestern part of the state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 13,786, making it the fourth least-populous county in California. The county seat and largest community is Weaverville.

Paskenta, California census-designated place in California, United States

Paskenta is a census-designated place (CDP) in Tehama County, California. Paskenta is said to be an Indian term for "under the bank". Historically, it had greater local importance due to the presence of an active lumber mill. The ZIP Code is 96074. The community is inside area code 530. Paskenta sits at an elevation of 725 feet (221 m). The 2010 United States census reported Paskenta's population was 112.

The upper watershed is rugged, mountainous and highly prone to flooding and landslides. The highest point in the watershed is the summit of Mount Linn (South Yolla Bolly Mountain) at 8,081 feet (2,463 m) in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness. [2] The lower part of the creek flows over a wide cobbled alluvial bed composed of coarse gravel and large boulders. Due to the seasonal nature of precipitation in this area, the lower part of Thomes Creek is often dry during the summer. [2] The watershed receives most of its precipitation in the form of rain, though snow falls frequently at elevations above 5,000 feet (1,500 m). The average precipitation in the lowlands is 20 inches (510 mm), while in the mountains it can be as high as 70 to 80 inches (1,800 to 2,000 mm). [2]

Mount Linn mountain in United States of America

Mount Linn, at 8,098 feet (2,468 m), is the easternmost summit of South Yolla Bolly Mountain, and is located in the Yolla Bolly Mountains range of the southern Klamath Mountains System, in Tehama County, northwestern California.

Alluvium Loose soil or sediment that is eroded and redeposited in a non-marine setting

Alluvium is loose, unconsolidated soil or sediment that has been eroded, reshaped by water in some form, and redeposited in a non-marine setting. Alluvium is typically made up of a variety of materials, including fine particles of silt and clay and larger particles of sand and gravel. When this loose alluvial material is deposited or cemented into a lithological unit, or lithified, it is called an alluvial deposit.

Water quality in Thomes Creek is considered good although it has been impacted by high rates of erosion, caused in part by the unstable sedimentary rock that makes up much of the Coast Ranges, but also from human activities such as ranching, logging, agriculture and mining. [13]

Sedimentary rock Rock formed by the deposition and subsequent cementation of material

Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of small particles and subsequent cementation of mineral or organic particles on the floor of oceans or other bodies of water at the Earth's surface. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause these particles to settle in place. The particles that form a sedimentary rock are called sediment, and may be composed of geological detritus (minerals) or biological detritus. Before being deposited, the geological detritus was formed by weathering and erosion from the source area, and then transported to the place of deposition by water, wind, ice, mass movement or glaciers, which are called agents of denudation. Biological detritus was formed by bodies and parts of dead aquatic organisms, as well as their fecal mass, suspended in water and slowly piling up on the floor of water bodies. Sedimentation may also occur as dissolved minerals precipitate from water solution.


A U.S. Geological Survey stream gage at Paskenta measured the discharge of Thomes Creek between October 1920 and September 1996. The average annual flow was 295.4 cubic feet per second (8.36 m3/s), with a monthly average ranging from 706 cubic feet per second (20.0 m3/s) in February to 5.1 cubic feet per second (0.14 m3/s) in October. [3] The highest recorded flow was 37,800 cubic feet per second (1,070 m3/s) on December 22, 1964 during the Christmas flood of 1964. [14]


The creek provides habitat for as many as 22 fish species according to a 1982 study, including Sacramento pikeminnow, Sacramento sucker, hardhead, California roach and speckled dace. The creek is host to significant runs of steelhead trout, as well as resident populations of rainbow trout (landlocked steelhead) above the waterfalls in the Gorge which form partial barriers to fish passage. [15] The creek is also home to spring-run chinook salmon. [16]

See also

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  10. "Solomon Peak". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. 1981-01-19. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  11. "Sugarloaf Mountain". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. 1981-01-19. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  12. USGS Topo Maps for United States (Map). Cartography by United States Geological Survey. ACME Mapper. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
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