Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Sacramento River kayaking - Anderson to Balls Ferry - California whitewater trip report.

Adventure on a big water class I - II river by guest author KenD.

We started our kayak trip with a put in at city of Anderson, CA. (Shasta County, California, USA) 10/08/10 River flow approx 6600 cfs measured upstream from Bend, CA (flow gauge USGS). Temperature was 54 degrees. Sacramento River Redding to Red Bluff (map & boating guide).

My wife Sharon and I are new to kayaking. Our opinion of what is easy or difficult water is based on very little experience with moving water. We drove up to Anderson CA a day early so we could check things out. We found two different put in spots. 1) We had read on the internet that we could put in at the end of North St. There is a small parking lot where North St comes close to the river at the end of Downing St. where you can walk down to the river bank. It is fairly easy access to carry a kayak. 2) We launched at the Anderson Public Fishing Access ramp next to Anderson River Park on Rupert Rd. The Anderson Public Fishing Access is a nice cement boat ramp where you can back your vehicle to the waters edge. I took photos of both locations (see below). Sacramento River at Anderson River Park video.

Road Map, Satellite Map, Terrain Map & Topographic Map.

• Use the interactive map - click and drag to reposition the map. Map user FAQ.
• Point at the red markers to see their labels. Use the tool on the left to zoom and pan.
• Map=roads. Satellite=satellite map. Terrain=3D shaded topo. Topo=topographic map.
Full-Screen Map - Sacramento River - Anderson to Balls Ferry Run.

coordinates - landmarks (red marker on map)
N 40.47096 W 122.29447 - North St bridge alternate put-in
N 40.46757 W 122.27967 - Anderson CA, public fishing access put-in (A)
N 40.46329 W 122.24406 - Deschutes Rd. bridge (B)
N 40.41750 W 122.19297 - Balls Ferry CA, Ash Ck Rd bridge take-out (C)
N 40.23132 W 122.18136 - Sacramento River gauge above Bend Bridge near Red Bluff CA (D)
N 40.19623 W 122.22625 - Ide Adobe State Park alternate take-out for 2-day trip.
N 40.15608 W 122.20618 - Sacramento River Discovery Center alt take-out for 2-day trip.

This was our first trip on "big water". We didn't get started until 11:00am. The weather was nice, not too hot or cold and no wind. We found unsettled water pretty quickly. I am not sure what happened or why but I found myself unexpectedly rolling to the right dumping me into the 54 degree water. This was my first wet exit. I righted my kayak to keep my gear in it as I watched my paddle float away. Floating along at 4-5 mph I tried to push my kayak to the right hand bank. I got close enough to touch the bottom but I couldn't do anything to slow my progress down river. I just couldn't seem to get any closer to the bank so I decided to swim to the other side. I started to feel as though I was getting chilled and thought that I really ought to get the heck out of the water. As I got closer to the far side, the current eased and I was able to reach shore. I dumped the water out of my kayak and took a look at my gear. I was lucky, I had only lost a couple bottles of water, and of course my paddle. I was very glad I wasn't wearing blue jeans or other cotton clothes. My wife had put ashore and walked towards me. I told her I had lost my paddle and, what luck, she said she could see it. The paddle had come to rest nearby and she was able to walk over to it. I can't imagine trying to continue without a paddle. I also can't imagine what we would have done if we couldn't continue.

We regrouped and continued down river. We soon came upon another rough spot and Sharon ended up stuck on rocks. I had found a decent path and she soon disappeared behind me. I pulled over to the bank as soon as I could. After waiting for a while I got out and started walking upstream to see if I could help. I didn't get very far before I ran into a wall of bushes and blackberry vines and private property. As I was headed back to the shore to see if I could walk along the water's edge I saw Sharon floating down river. Everything was OK. We regrouped again just above the Deschutes Rd. bridge. We talked about pulling out right there. We decided to continue and it was not long before we came upon another rough spot. We got out at tried to walk around it some. I got back in and hit some of the roughest water for the day. I had water splashing over my bow and into the cockpit. Sharon had tried to walk her kayak a little farther so I again had to pull over and wait for her to catch up. At this point I was pretty sure we were in over our heads almost literally. There was nothing we could do but try to keep our heads above water. A little further down we stayed right at an island and had some more rough water. Thankfully after that we had a stretch of calmer water. As we got close to Balls Ferry and the A17 bridge, we knew we should pull out there. We didn't have a vehicle there, but we figured it was safer to find a ride. than to stay on the river. We were very lucky that a drift fishing guide that had put in at the same time we did, was pulling out as we got to the boat ramp. He offered to give me a ride back to the Anderson Public Fishing Access ramp to get our car. After we loaded up the kayaks I took a couple photos of the rapids just down river. I read that this part of the river was not very exciting. Maybe we are just newbies, or maybe the river has changed since the trip report we read was written. There was plenty of excitement for us. We have decided that this kind of trip is not for us. If the river gets rough, there is no way to skip that part. If someone gets into trouble, we can't go back up river to help them. We had quite an adventure that day. For now, we will stick to creeks and still water.

Sacramento River access point at Anderson River Park
• Sacramento River access point at Anderson River Park.
• More photos: Sacramento River kayak trip pictures by traildad450

We had hoped to kayak down to Red Bluff. We checked out two pull out locations, Ide Adobe State Park and the Sacramento River Discovery Center. We were looking for a place to leave our vehicle overnight. The ranger at Ide Adobe said we could leave our vehicle but there would be a $6 charge to park each day. The river access was usable but not easy. We checked at the Sacramento River Discovery Center and the ranger said we could leave our vehicle in the day use parking lot for no charge. The river access was fairly flat and not too long of a walk. It also looked like it would be easy to go ashore from the kayak. There is also a campground with showers. There is river access both above and below the diversion dam.

More about:
Sacramento River Paddle Boating Guide & Map.
Whitewater Kayaking Trip Reports in California - BRT Insights.
California Whitewater Rivers - Comprehensive Guide for Paddleboating Class II to IV.

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Its always nice when a carnage report has a happy ending. My advice on how to get started in whitewater river kayaking is to take some classes with an experienced instructor. Then join a paddleboating club and paddle with a group of more experienced boaters.
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