Russian River- California

I have a trip planned to San Francisco in July for the wife to run in the marathon- being the good sport I am and taking one for the team allows me the opportunity to canoe while I am there-

We will be staying 2 nights in Sonoma and the closest river I can find is the Russian- Is this a somewhat decent river to canoe or should I not waste my time??

We enjoyed paddling the Russian…
river many moons ago.

At the mouth where it meets the Pacific there were a lot of seals lounging on the sand bars.

I don’t know if it is still the same, but I would say yes, go for it.



afternoon winds
can blow up the river from the ocean, good to be aware of. Lovely river, have fun.

It’s been 35 years
since I paddled it in a canoe, but IIRC it was fun, but not difficult. We used rental boats out of Healdsburg (in the redwoods), which is far enough upstream that coastal winds should not be much of an issue. I notice that there still are some outfitters there.

Russian River
I did it once, while the scenery was fine I just got bored. I paddled from Cassini Ranch where I was camping to the mouth and came back with it on top of the van.

Check out the Petaluma Paddlers on yahoo groups. They went within the past month. the reports were good, but low water level and some portage was required on the return trip.

The Petaluma Paddlers goes out quite often, you will be able to get up to date info if you join the group, and pick up some other folks to join you, or go with them on one of their other trips.

Personally, I’d take Tomales or even Bodega Bays before I’d do the Russian again with low water levels.

RR trip an options

– Last Updated: Apr-23-09 11:46 PM EST –

I took a trip about 5 years ago (before I had ever kayaked) in an inflatable canoe with SOAR on the Russian River, ( a nice trip, relaxing but not exciting paddling.

(I just re-read you post and it looks like you are looking for canoeing options, the below are kayaking options, oops, but FWIW...)

In and around SF there are other good options for paddling if you are open to other areas. In SF you can rent from (never been there) or in Sausalito at (I rented from them dozens of times as well as many helpful boat demo's before I eventually bought my boat from them.) Both offer relatively sheltered bay paddling, as well as access to some really hairy stuff at the Golden Gate. has some very nice trips a bit to the north west.

Let me know if you need more options in a wider area around SF.