I recently purchased a second hand OT Discovery 169 and have been brainstorming where to paddle. Actually the brainstorming started first, now I have one the important tools. A coworker and I have been planning a multi-night canoe camping trip and like the looks of the Upper Sacramento river but haven’t been able to find much information about camping along the river. We much prefer not to camp in developed campgrounds. Does anyone have experience wild camping along this river that can offer insight as to good camping areas? We’re planning on tripping in October, though August (hot?!?) and early November are possible options. I’ve read references to camping on sandbars but wonder about the safety of doing so when there is any chance of rain.
When you say upper Sacramento, are you talking the stretch from Redding to Sacramento? If so, you may want to contact the folks at Headwaters Adventure Company (http://headwatersadventure.com/) or ESP Outdoors (http://www.espoutdoor.com/), both shops in Redding that may know.
CA dept of boating and waterways
has a website for the upper sac. There are still some stretches of undeveloped public lands along the river. BLM has the Sacramento River Bend area of public land, with a primitive boat-in only campsite at Massacre Flat, below Jellys Ferry. At the Red Bluff Diversion dam there is a developed campground with all the amenities. Further downstream is the chain of State and National Wildlife Refuges, some of which allow camping on the sandbars (but in late summer no campfires). Woodson Bridge State Rec Area has a paddle in campsite.
So the short answer is yes, it is possible, but most of the shore is either steep banks, or mega-thick riparian vegetation that does not yield a good campsite. Many of the suitable spots for camping are already designated as campsites.
You should be ok…
I’ve paddled the section between Red Bluff and Woodson Bridge SRA 6 or 8 times over the years. We always did it in one day so we didn’t camp along the way.
I don’t think you’d have any trouble finding somewhere to put a tent. In Calif it seems like most any property that is privately owned is posted. If there’s any doubt just keep a low profile when you camp, keep the noise down, a fire-less camp and leave no trace when you depart. As far as being concerned about the river coming up when camping on an island-- with that section of the Sacramento River I would not even give that a second thought. The flow does not fluctuate that much without a ton of rain.
If you can find a copy of Ann Dwyer’s “Easy waters of California” it will have some helpful information.
The Upper Sacramento River is strictly serious whitewater and not suitable for canoes at all.
Below the dam at Redding is suitable for people with plenty of moving water experience.
It is easier below Red Bluff dam.