Headwaters of Sacramento River to the Ocean Trip

I’m planning this spring/ summer to do an adventure of traveling the length of the Sacramento River (Headwaters in Mt. Shasta -> San Francisco). It’ll be a mix of transportation methods; hiking (as the headwaters/start is a small spring and stream), white water rafting, xc kayaking, might even kiteboarding part of the last of the SF bay section (50 miles of paddling against spring/summer Bay wind sounds :s ).

I’m still in the early planning stages and have tried to google if anyone has done this before. But I’m not really coming up with anything via google. Surely someone has!

Can anyone point me in the direction of a previous TR? Or even sections of the Sac would be interesting. Mostly looking to hear about any non obvious challenges that came up.


The stretch from Redding to Chico is done as a single-day 100 mile race and a tour every year or other year. http://sacrivertrust.org/cal100/ and http://sacrivertrust.org/projects/paddle-california/ for some info. You can also find some videos on Youtube with some searching of people doing that segment. There are some rapids up there, but class II at most. Flow will vary based on season and releases. Temps of water may be cold up near Shasta Dam, warm in central valley, and cold again when you get toward ocean.

I am estimating it is some 400 miles from Redding to the ocean.

Somewhere south of Chico the banks of the river are all rip-rapped/less natural. May make camping spots harder to find. Would be most (all?) commando camping.

You will start feeling tidal currents before the Carquinez Straits. Also the water will become too salty to drink somewhere before Carquinez Strait also, so make you you stock up or find alternate sources than filtering prior to then.

Oh, and you can start getting some current estimates for about Antioch to the ocean at the Bay Area Sea Kayakers web site, on their trip planner function: https://www.bask.org/trip_planner/2.17/. Slide the map over toward the delta. Note - the further you get from the ocean, the less tidal impact and more river impact you get, and river impact is not predictable due to it being more either reservoir releases or rain.

There is some technical whitewater on the upper Sacramento above Redding. . Use caution on that section. I have paddled from Redding to below Colusa. Below there it is not that interesting. There is a lot of flat paddling through the Delta and many powerboats. An interesting idea. I use to paddle the Sac once a year.