Canoeing in California

I have been canoeing now for the last 4 weeks or so with friends in lakes (Big Bear, CA) and the the ocean (Newport Beach Back Bay, CA) and now want to try a river. I am interested in something mild for my first trip. I don’t know too many places near by so thought I’d ask you guys and gals out there. I am looking to do a tandom run that would be a good intro to whitewater. I know my boat would limit what I can do (Discovery 164) but have read here that paddlers say they are OK for Class I or II rivers. (One guy said class III but doubted his opinion) maybe he is really good!

My only thought was the Truckee River in Tahoe but that is still 9 hours away. I am in Orange County California. (1 hour south of Los Angels)

Our skill level is moderate, not real experienced in canoeing but we are two stong guys, experienced outdoorsman, strong swimmers and have been working hard 2-3 times a week paddling and gaining skills to give this a shot.

We are open to a day trip or a weekend lenth trip, camping overnight. We have the gear, the boat and the desire but just don’t know where to begin.

Thanks for your help in advance!


American River
Try the lower American River in the Sacramento area.

American River is popular
Warning - I am new to paddling and have NOT gone down the American River.

However, it is a very popular spot. The world’s oldest triathlon (run, bike, paddle) takes place there every year. Lot of rafters and paddlers.

for more info in the river course.

Kern River Is Closer
I think the Kern River would be a lot closer to you. At higher elevations it is class IV-V, but I think there is a slower section down at the bottom by the golf course.

Same with the American. The NorthFork is extreme Class V, but the run down in Sacramento from Lake Natomas to Goethe Park is suitable for tubing. It is a zoo in the summer, which can be fun, or not…Bring a sense of humor and lots of beer.

Beer ban
If you bring lots of beer, you should be aware that recent ordinances can restrict where you may partake of it at certain times of the year. Holidays, like July 4th, have turned into 3-ring circuses and Sacramento has passed a law that you can only drink on the water and may not drink ashore. I’ve heard that the city is looking to see if the law can apply to navigable waters, usually under federal jurisdiction. Can’t blame the city. From the news footage I’ve seen of the drunken brawls and mayhem and attendant trashing of the river and banks, it’s long overdue.

They call one place Gilligan’s Island
during the holiday weekends. And no, Thruston Howell III didn’t show. But they were a few MaryAnn’s on the news footage.