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

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NORTHERN 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.

SMITH RIVER

Near Hiouchi, Caifornia, the Smith River runs placidly through the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. This is a good access point for a peaceful time of paddling and sightseeing. There are also many other clearly marked access points along State Highway 199, such as Fort Dick, northeast of Lake Earl. This is a good spot for a quiet time of kayaking or canoeing, or maybe you'd rather try your luck for a cutthroat trout from a raft. Either way, this is a scenic stretch of untamed river.

For whitewater action, try the north fork of the Smith, but only the most experienced should try this stretch of whitewater without a guide. If you've got the experience, you can put in for some Class IV rapids along High Divide Road in the northern part of the Smith River National Recreation Area.

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Check with the Gasquet Ranger Station at (707)457-3131 for river conditions before starting out.

The south fork of the Smith between Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and the Redwood Highway has a Class III rating. However, this changes with the season, so check with the ranger station before putting in. There are also some good runs between Coopers Flat and Goose Creek with good put in spots along South Fork Road.

KLAMATH RIVER

For calm water, suitable for kayaking or canoeing, the westernmost stretch of the Klamath is a good bet. Although primarily a fishing region, it is also great for paddling. There is good river access along State Highway 169 about 23 to 25 miles south of Crescent City east of the Redwood Highway, or you may prefer Alder Camp Road west of the Redwood Highway.

If you're looking for a little whitewater action, try the Klamath nearer to Somes Bar where there is a nice combination of rapids and calm water which is ideal for beginners. Check it out carefully before putting in, though, because there are also some Class IV rapids in this area. These Class IV rapids near Somes Bar and along the nearby Salmon River are some of the best in the north, but only if you're experienced or you're going with a guide.

For calmer whitewater action try the Class II and III rapids on the middle fork of the Klamath between Orleans and Weitchpec. There are a lot of good put ins along Highways 299 and 96.

TRINITY RIVER

For some moderate Class II action, try the 5 hour trip from Tish Tang to Hoopa Valley. There is good access along Highway 299.

For river conditions contact Six Rivers National Forest, Lower Trinity Ranger District at (530) 629-2118.

EEL RIVER

The 20 mile stretch of the south fork of the Eel River which runs from Richardson Grove State Park to Weott, California makes for a peaceful tour of the California Redwoods. The 15 mile stretch of the main fork between Dyerville Bar and Scotia, California will also serve you well. Both of these are calm runs, suitable for quiet paddling and sightseeing.

NOYO RIVER

If you've got your own equipement, you can put in at the end of North Harbor Road near the mouth of the Noyo for a beautiful, lazy, upstream paddle. If you're looking for a rental, you'll be out of luck on the Noyo.

MENDOCINO HEADLANDS STATE PARK

The exposed and rocky coast makes sea kayaking along the northern coast very tricky. Also, you are definitely going to get wet in the surf going out and coming in. But if you're up to it, the rewards are great.

Only intermediate to advanced kayakers should set out alone in areas which are not coved. We always recommend the buddy system, even in calm waters. And there is never anything wrong with hiring an experienced and skilled guide. It might make the difference between a day of kayaking memorable for a wonderful experience or memborable for the disaster which could have been easily averted.

With numerous sea caves and wave holes to explore, we assure you, kayaking this area will be an unforgettable experience.

LITTLE RIVER, GUALALA RIVER, AND RUSSIAN RIVERS

With Class II canoe runs in the summer, these rivers offer calm, placid, and enjoyable paddling through forested redwood canyons to open country nearer the coast. During normal runoff years, you'll find each of these rivers suitable for beginners.

Wintertime is a different story. Increased runoff can turn even the most placid stretch into a Class V adventure, so make inquiry about river conditions before starting out.

BODEGA BAY

With smaller breaks, Bodega Bay is a good spot for less experienced sea kayakers. There is good access at Doran Beach Regional Park, Campbell Cove, and Westside Regional Park.

And, as always, it's a good idea to check the local conditions before setting out to make sure you won't be exceeding your level of expertise.

Doran Beach phone (707)875-3540

TOMALES BAY

This long finger of water was formed by and sits right atop the San Andreas Fault. You'd never know by looking, but two powerful and violently moving continental plates meet below these calm peaceful waters. At some time, years in the future, Los Angeles will be sitting right where the sleepy little town of Inverness is today. But enough future shock, because for the next million years or so, Tomales Bay will be a haven for kayakers and canoeists seeking a waveless, virtually current free paddle.

Tomales Bay has many beaches accessible only by water, and several good spots for overnight kayaking/camping trips reachable by both beginner and intermediate paddlers alike. A good put in is Nicks Cove on the northern shore of the bay, 40 miles north of Olema. Heart's Desire Beach off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Point Reyes National Park is a good put in towards the other end of the bay.

DRAKE'S BAY

Actually Drake's Estero adjacent to Drake's Bay is your best bet for kayaking. This lagoon offers tide pools, rays, sharks, seals, and an abundance of other marine life and water fowl. Put in at Limantour Beach at the end of Limantour Road and enjoy yourself.

ABBOTTS LAGOON

If you don't mind a 2 mile portage, try this sheltered waterway shielded from the ocean by a strip of sand. Access is from Pierce Point Road about two miles west of Tomales Bay State Park.  

 



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


 
 
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