I’m planning a trip from Redding, CA south maybe down to Chico or so.
Anyone know if it is difficult to get around the Red Bluff dam? Do you have to portage or is there a lock?
Is 15 miles per day average a reasonable estimate?
Any “must see” or camp locations worth mentioning?
I don’t even have a boat yet but I have flexibility in time, a strong back and a good dog. What else ya need?
PS - Found this: https://dbw.parks.ca.gov/pages/28702/files/SactoRiver.pdf
Redding (Keswick Dam) to Colusa
Boat launching facilities and good boating conditions are
available to the public within the Redding area. There are no nautical charts to show the water
depths between Keswick Dam and Colusa and the channel is not dredged. The water may be
swift, and the depth changes continually due to shifting sands and silt. Boat operators should
watch the river bed carefully to find the channel. Due to the shifting channel, snags, submerged
debris, and shallowness, motorboats may have difficulty navigating portions of the river.
Diversion dams block the river at Redding and Red Bluff.
Boaters should be aware of the impassible irrigation diversion dam located just upstream of
State Highway 273 in Caldwell Park. Boaters traveling downstream should launch downstream
at Turtle Bay Park in order to avoid this hazard.
Boaters should also be aware of the seasonal closure of the Sacramento River at the Red Bluff
Diversion Dam, which forms Lake Red Bluff on a seasonal basis (May 16 through September 14).
The reservoir is located on the Sacramento River about 2 miles southeast of Red Bluff.
There was a paddlesports race from Redding to Chico. I never did it, but seemed like they could paddle the whole thing (so no portage needed). http://www.riversforchange.org/california-100/. Click around at their links for river maps and the like. You may want to contact the folks at Rivers for Change for any additional local knowledge you need.
With current, 15 miles a day seems rather short. These guys were doing the entire 100 miles from Redding to Chico in 12-16 hours. They did do a tour one year for people who wanted a more leisurely run of the course, and I think they did it as 3 nights (so 25 miles a day). Here is an article I found on it: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article41724345.html
That’s really helpful, thank you!
We used to run boy scout trips from Redding to Red Bluff each summer. 3 days of easy paddling until the river slows near Red Bluff. The last day was always the hardest part with headwinds coming up if you were still on the water past noon. Some areas of rapids (class 2, perhaps 3, depending upon flows), but mostly relatively flat water with currents/eddys in rather surprising parts of the river (often in the center). I don’t know the river much below Red Bluff, until you are nearer Willows and south.
If you want to do some fishing along the way, on the 2nd day we always paddled up Cow Creek where there is a rope swing and bass can be easily seen and caught under the overhanging trees. Other slow moving creeks are probably just as good and the areas were pretty much inaccessible to shore fishing. Any good bass lure will do (I used Mepps and Rooster Tails to great effect), but you must remove barbs (or at least that was the rule when I was last there).
It is a good paddle and the flows should not be too high, considering how little water/snow we’ve had this year. It seems likely the rapids will provide enough bouncing around to keep things interesting.
From what I’ve been told, the greatest hazard along that stretch of river is the hoards of drug addicts.