Northern California CL I / II Rivers????


You might have seen my previous posts about paddling some lakes in NORCAL.

I am looking to take a very scenic overnight paddle trip. I was originally looking to paddle a lake in the Yosemite area, but now I am thinking that maybe a slow flowing river might be a better option.

I would be paddling my fiberglass sea kayak so I would would want a CL I or maybe II river that would be deep enough so that I would not mess up my gel coat.

Someone today suggested that there might be some slow stretches on the American or the Truckee Rivers.

I would be planning to camp on the shore (not in a campground) and I would also need somewhere that there would be shuddle service available as I would be solo.

any thoughts???


Hey Matt
I could hook you up with a Truckee River map and run shuttle if you do the Truckee. Do you want to borrow a plastic boat?

Lower American? Sacramento?
Maybe Cache Creek? The American River below Nimbus dam is definitely class 1, or it will be once it returns to its normal flow after the “spring” runoff. However, it can probably be paddled in one day and there’s no legal place to camp. Plenty of homeless people camp along the river so if that’s not a worry, you could do that.

The Sacramento River is big and probably doable, especially north of Sacramento. There was a company that advertised a trip. Sorry, lost all of the info. There are campgrounds available though.

Cache Creek is small and maybe too rocky but could be possible. I think there’s camping along it also.

Oh yeah, the Delta might be a good place. In fact, the Brannan Island state campground has boat launches and there are a number of places you could go (and return the same day) that are big slow moving water. There are big powerboats and ski boats and jet skis and you might stay out of the Sacramento Deep Water channel unless you want to see how much water a giant commercial container ship displaces.

Depending on when you’re planning to go I could perhaps help with a shuttle too.

Also, disclaimer on my advice. I’m a paddler with no skills and I like just moseying along on small flat water. I’ve done the lower American twice and if I can do it, anyone can. However, if you’re looking for an expert opinion, I’m not it.

Good luck,


Starting To Get It Now…

– Last Updated: Jun-09-05 1:27 PM EST –

NORCAL has many diverse boating venues. Hard to offer advise.

I think I am starting to understand what you are looking for. Sounds like you really want to do overnight primative kayak camping in a secluded spot with your fiberglass sea kayak.

And you only have a regular two day weekend to do it.

Something I have thought about, but never done. I do a lot of camping, but mostly with family, and we like our creature comforts. Like huge mattresses that require a truck!

Sierra/foothuill rivers have steep grades. Lots of rocks. They run fast in spring. They was tons of snow pack this winter and everything, even the Delta, is running dangerously high right now. Good news is all the mountain lakes will be full this year.

Sierra/foothill rivers usually get shallow and "boney" in summer. Even easy runs like the American are rough on fiberglass sea kayaks. CGbikes will tell you that!

We have our share of slow moving rivers in the Valley, but kind of uninspirational compared to other NORCAL venues...

Anyway, I do have a suggestion....

Lake Beardsley. It is on the Stanislaus River along Sonora Pass (Highway 108). Not too bad a drive from Monterrey Bay, but still about four hours. With the days so long, you could get an early start on Saturday, and have plenty of time left to enjoy the place. Or leave Friday night and sleep in the truck? Another hour will take you to the summit of Sonora Pass. Something you don't want to miss if you will not be here long.

The lower end by the dam is a small lake with 16 newly renovated campsites. I have not been there since the renovation. Camping is first come, first serve. Frankly, the crowd there is local, and pretty redneck. They allow water skiing and jetskis on the lake.

BUT, if you head up river it becomes more like a river, and less like a lake. The current gets a little stronger a you head upriver, but not too bad at all. Eliminates the need for shuttle so you can do it anythime by yourself. Little or no power boat traffic. There are some great campsites, but a lot of it has steep banks.

I called the Stanislaus National Forest the other day, and asked about camping upriver. She said she did not see why not. Kind of non-commital. I would want more confimation before I went. A campfire permit may be needed, but with a wet spring, it should not be hard to get.

I feel bad we haven't really welcomed you to NORCAL. Most of last years PNET crowd have wondered off, and I have been too busy with family stuff to go kayking this spring.

Larry and I have been talking about a day trip to Breadsly, and that should happen soon. It is kind of a long way for Chuck, but maybe worth the drive to see Sonora Pass now that is it open?

Maybe we should think about doing a PNET camping trip there this summer? It is too late to get campground resevations for Tahoe this year.

I hope to meet up with Chuck someplace between Sacramento and Tahoe this weekend for a day trip. Are you free?

A couple far north suggestions
Klamath River - various sections from I-5 to near Happy Camp where rapids become much more vigorous.

Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park … north shore coves and inlets are jewels little used … lots of birds and fish. It is at McArthur … an hour east of Mt. Shasta.

Unfortunately I will be studying this weekend for my final exams next week.

I have some time off after that and am trying to plan some stuff to do.

I am going on a trip with my wife, going on a backpacking trip in Yosemite, and a whitewater trip on the American…all that is left to do is to make a short kayak touring trip and maybe a mountain biking trip!

You are pretty much correct in your assessment of what I am looking for. I a have been a backpacker for years. Last year I found that doing the same thing in a kayak was a lot of fun. Paddle all day, stop for the night wherever you end up at, and then get up the next morning and keep going. It’s great and you get to see a lot of beatiful things.

I am looking to make a shorter overnight trip somwhere here in NORCAL. I would like it to be a pretty scenic paddle, something long enough for an overnight trip (probably about 20 miles or so) and something I could take my sea kayak on without damaging it.

Since I am trying to do so many other things during my break, I would need to make this trip short (otherwise my wife would kill me)!

Lake Beardsley Photos

– Last Updated: Jun-10-05 12:58 PM EST –

It is a pretty lake/river:

The water fall is at the end of these high cliffs on the right hand side:

Here is a map of the lake:

The wind will always be against you on the way back down the canyon in the afternoon, and it can get strong.

Hey Matt
Barracuda and I are thinking of Twin Lakes for the Fathers Day weekend. Be a familly oriented thing with camping, paddling and fishing.

Thanks for the invite, but unfortuantely that is the weekend that I am going on the WSK trip to the American River.

Don’t know if you are a WSK member or not, but if your plans fall through then maybe you would want to go along.


Can’t do the weekend
Quinn has his last T-ball game on Sat, plus a birthday party or three. I can make a mad dash in the early AM on Sunday and meet up with you at the lake. It’s father’s day after all, and I was graciously granted the freedom to do what I like :smiley:

Let me know where and when.

Lake Beardsley looks pretty nice, and it is close to here.

Do you know how far you can go up the river before it gets too shallow for a glass boat, or the current gets too strong to paddle against? How far up it have you gone? Is it pretty secluded along the banks?



I Am Not Sure
I haven’t been all the way, But I hear you can go almost all the way up to the dam. I usually just go as far as the waterfall. Maybe a 8 mile round trip? Not sure…

BTW: That dam creates Donnel Lake. There is no vehicle access to the lake. Only access is to hike in with IK, but that is another story…

The shore is VERY secluded. Plenty of spots where you could pull kayaks out of sight and no one will even know you are there.

I did not realize that the river was dammed above and below the lake.

Do you know if it is possible/practical to portage above the dam if I wanted to go farther up? 8 miles round trip is pretty short for an overnighter.

thanks again


No Way To Portage
Accessing Lake Donnel is a long standing dream of mine, but it would be a major expedition.