The improved resolution of sediment provenance from detrital zircon analysis of Great Valley stratigraphy enables recognition of previously undocumented arc magmatism and the evolution of regional drainage systems within the Cretaceous arc-forearc system related to uplift, magmatism, and structure in the arc. Great Valley detrital zircon age data confirm previous studies that indicate that the locus of the sediment source in the southern Sierra Nevada arc migrated east with the active volcanic front and suggest rapid rates of uplift and unroofing of the southern arc. Sacramento Valley detrital zircon age data indicate a more complex history of drainage in the northern Klamath-Sierran arc than previously documented. Detrital zircon age distributions from the Cache Creek section of the Great Valley Group broaden through time from nearly unimodal age distributions to signatures with multiple age peaks. This transition to more broadly distributed detrital zircon age spectra likely results from a combination of (1) expanding subaerial drainage systems from highly localized to more broadly distributed catchments; (2) changing shelf and submarine-canyon morphology with rising sea level and/or basin subsidence; (3) increased degree of dissection of the Klamath-Sierran arc; and (4) potential drainage capture and redirection within the arc. Sacramento Valley detrital zircon age data also record a pulse of Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous magmatism in the northwestern Sierra Nevada arc, an age of Cordilleran magmatism and deformation represented by limited exposure in the modern Sierra Nevada. These results offer significant new insights into the evolution of a well-studied arc-forearc system.