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CALIFORNIA SPORTS PARADISE
Your portal to outdoor sports in California
CALIFORNIA'S ON-LINE MAGAZINE FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS

DAY HIKING
Northern Coast
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ROAD BIKING
Northern Coast
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Northern Sierras
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MOUNTAIN BIKING
Northern Coast
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Northern Sierras
Southern Sierras
PADDLE SPORTS
Northern Coast
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Northern Sierras
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SURFING
Northern Coast
Central Coast
Southern Coast
CENTRAL CALIFORNIA COAST'S BEST PADDLING

GENERAL INFORMATION

An experienced paddler might think all of our safety warnings are a little too much. However, a novice can be easily lulled into thinking his skill level is greater than it really is. It's the old "Anybody can do that" syndrome. Let me tell you from experience, anybody can NOT do that. It takes a lot of preparation and experience to ride whitewater and every year many wannabe whitewater paddlers are found dead along the banks of California's rivers. We don't want that to happen to you. So, please check river conditions carefully before putting in and never let your ego get the best of you.

At most of the spots listed below you will be able to rent equipment nearby and/or hire an experienced and skilled guide. If you are a novice, seriously consider this. At least take the time to listen to the advice given by the company renting the equipment to you. A reputable rental agency will place your safety over their profits any day.

All that said, go out and have a good, but safe, paddling trip in...CALIFORNIA - SPORTS PARADISE.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY

Tricky currents, heavy ship traffic, and unpredictable strong winds make San Francisco Bay a real challenge even for the experienced paddler. The most experienced might want to try the trip under the Golden Gate Bridge, putting in at Schoonmaker Point Marina Beach in Saucelito and paddling to Kirby Beach. This can be a thrilling ride, but dangerous if unsupervised.

I have some friends (experienced) who make an annual night paddle from Saucelito to Angel Island, but I've never gotten up the courage to go with them.

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Another friend who capsized his surf ski in a sudden wind on the bay near Redwood City, watched it blow across the bay and barely made it back to shore with his life. His surf ski turned up two months later grounded in the mud flats on the other side of the bay.

So please, use caution on the San Francisco Bay. Check local tide and weather conditions carefully before starting out, let someone know you're going, use the BUDDY SYSTEM, and ALWAYS wear a Coast Guard approved flotation device. EAST BAY

If you don't mind paddling between huge cargo ships, the Oakland Estuary is a popular paddling spot. Put in at the end of Franklin Street near Jack London Square in Oakland enjoy some current-free paddling.

MONTEREY BAY

The "Monterey Swell" which can easily reach up to 10 feet can make for rough going on a bay crossing, but the paddle from Santa Cruz to Monterey is becoming increasingly popular. This ride is for the experienced only and PLEASE take a buddy.

Fortunately, there are many other ways to paddle Monterey Bay.

Surf kayaking has become very popular in the Santa Cruz area. See CENTRAL CALIFORNIA COAST'S BEST SURFING for the best spots, such as Steamer's Lane near the surf museum. Be warned, though, the board surfers think you get in their way and they will let you know it. If you're thick-skinned enough, go ahead and enjoy some good surf kayaking.

ELKHORN SLOUGH

On the inland side of Highway 1 near the tiny harbor town of Moss Landing is one of the gems of the central coast. This tidal estuary is teeming with an abundance of both marine and avian life. With many miles of waterways, it's easy to spend an entire day exploring the backwater channels of this preserve observing the varied waterfowl, such as avocets, terns, great blue herons, sandpipers, willets, and even an occasional rare California brown pelican, clapper rail, or peregrine falcon. Sea lions, sea otters, and muskrats are found in abundance here and on the shore you might spot jackrabbits, weasels, or a mule deer. Gene and his son were able to spend a couple of hours one day watching sand sharks mate in the shallows.

With an abundance of free parking, you can put in on the harbor side of the bridge and paddle under Highway 1 and into the slough. You might want to consider which way the tide will be going as you enter and leave and time your trip accordingly. It's always nicer to have the tide at your back. And, believe me, a lot of water funnels through the narrow opening spanned by the bridge.

MONTEREY - PACIFIC GROVE

Put in where the surf is calm at Monterey State Beach on the east side of the Commercial Pier and enjoy a fine day of paddling around Fisherman's Wharf, the Mark Hopkins Marine Institute, Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The view of the many fine Victorian homes in Pacific Grove is excellent from the water. If you can stand the odor, the sea lions on the jetty by the Coast Guard pier are interesting to watch.

Use caution when paddling through the kelp forest, as it can be a little hard to manage at times. And, it's tempting to try to get too close to the rocks on the shore and get into trouble. But, give them a wide berth. You don't want the Coast Guard to have to come get you.

If you're not real experienced, I wouldn't recommend going farther out than Lover's Point. Once you leave the shelter of the point, the wind and the swell can make for rough going. If you are a little more adventurous and have the experience, try the paddle trip over to Moss Landing and back. It's a lot closer than Santa Cruz.

Monterey Bay is a designated marine sanctuary and is chock full of some of the most interesting sea life you'll ever see. Most of it won't be visible from a kayak, but the sea lions, sea otters, and pelicans will keep you plenty busy.

BIG SUR

Experienced only need apply.

Entering the water anywhere along the Big Sur coastline is a dangerous proposition. With big swells, sharp rocks, and pounding surf it's a good bet you're going to roll. Your best hope for kayaking and staying alive is probably at Andrew Molera State Beach Park.

But I didn't send you there.

 



CALIFORNIA SPORTS PARADISE
Your portal to outdoor sports in California
CALIFORNIA'S ON-LINE MAGAZINE FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS


 
 
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