Horseshoe Bar Preserve is open to fishing year around. Cold clear water is supplied by snow runoff from French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs through a tunnel system daily and is approximately 52 degrees throughout the summer months. Members regularly enjoy the challenge of hooking up with 14” to 18” native fish. Occasionally they hook a 20” to 24” fish that takes them well into their backing with several long runs and spirited aerials. Hatches are numerous and include BWOs, Caddis, October Caddis, Golden Stones and Yellow Sally’s to mention a few. The five miles of river has many great runs of deep holes, big tailouts, pocket water, and perfect seams that hold lots of wild trout.
The five miles of river that makes up Horseshoe Bar Preserve (Club) starts just below Oxbow Dam at the point where the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the American River meet. The property is a Federally Deeded property from the 1850’s. It is similar to the Mexican Land Grants where the property is owned on both sides of the river to the middle of the river and includes the rocks under the river.
Around 1860 approximately 53 miners with claims on the 11/4 mile stretch of the river known as “The Horseshoe” joined together to form a single claim. Working together they successfully bored a tunnel through the mountain diverting the river so they could mine the gold that had been deposited in The Horseshoe. This tunnel, now known as the Tunnel Chute, is approximately 50 feet deep by 50 feet wide and has a level five rapid at the entrance. The river flows through the tunnel into a 65 foot deep pool, 100 yards wide and 200 yards long. We call it “The Lake” because members enjoy float tubing in it. We keep several row boats there for our members who wish to fish from a boat.
Below The Lake is Gray Eagle Bar named after the town of Gray Eagle which together with Horseshoe Bar formed a considerable mining community. The river splits at Gray Eagle Bar and forms a side channel that is a favorite for those who like to fish small streams. Over the five miles of river that encompasses the Club there are numerous deep pools that hold large Brown and Rainbow Trout. In between these pools are numerous stretches of riffles and tailouts with pocket water for those that enjoy short-lining and high sticking.
Below Gray Eagle Bar is a remote area surrounded by steep canyon walls known as “The Cathedral.” The name is derived because of the sheer wall that overlooks the area. Members who enjoy solitude like fishing this area. Due to its distance from the parking area it receives relatively no fishing pressure.
Whispering Pines Campground
Whispering Pines is the perfect name for our campground set alongside one of the most beautiful and productive areas of the river. Located slightly above the famous Tunnel Chute that was created by miners in the mid 1800’s to divert the river away from the Horseshoe so that they could mine the 1 ¼ mile of river now known as Horseshoe Bar. The Tunnel Chute is one of the most spectacular sights on the river. During the warm summer months breezes flow through the tunnel and are cooled before they pour over the campground at Whispering Pines. These cool breezes create a low whisper as the work there way through the tall pine trees.
Whispering Pines Campground Cabins
There are three bunkhouse cabins hidden amongst the trees. These cabins overlook the campground and river yet blend into the natural beauty around them. They are nestled back in areas that allow privacy, yet are close to the center of the campground. Each cabin has two twin beds. An outdoor kitchen is being created that has a gas Webber BBQ and two 30,000 BTU burners. There is an additional Weber BBQ that can be used for events. The sinks and work surfaces are stainless steel and provide an excellent work area to prepare your food. The kitchen has a full supply of all the cooking utensils you would need as well as silverware. Members need only to bring their food and sleeping bags/linens to enjoy a weekend of great fishing, solitude and a great night’s sleep.
There are also designated tent sites for those that enjoy tent camping. The bluff above the river has Adirondack chairs and large flat rocks where you can prop up your feet while you relax and enjoy the view and the sound of rushing river.
After cooking up your favorite foods in the outdoor kitchen you can sit around the campfire and enjoy the pristine beauty and tranquility that is Horseshoe Bar Preserve.