Paddle Perfection

Jenner and Russian River Kayak

Jenner is enviably located smack dab where the Russian River meets the Pacific. And that's why it's one of the most perfect places to kayak in the Bay Area. Its compact size, diverse environment, and plentiful wildlife make it a must-do for anyone who likes to get out on the water (including paddling newbies). Harbor seals are particularly fond of this area. Dozens of them like to feed near the river mouth and lounge in the sun at Goat Rock Beach. Get an up-close experience of this area (while keeping at least 50 feet from the big fellas!) by renting a kayak from WaterTreks (call ahead). You'll launch at the Sonoma Coast State Park visitor center in Jenner, cruising the calm water of the river. Paddle out toward the mouth of the river for the best chance of seeing seals. They're very curious and might just pop up next your kayak to see what's going on! Seals aren't big fans of selfies, so please be respectful and keep your distance. Next, paddle a loop around Penny Island in the middle of the estuary. Chances are good you'll see all kinds of birdlife: Cormorants, mallards, and egrets like to have pool parties in these parts. Osprey also hang out in the trees along the shore.

TIP: Go early to avoid afternoon wind and grab breakfast at Café Aquatica (10439 Hwy. 1, Jenner). If the weather's nice, sit on the deck out back and sip your coffee while looking out over the Russian River.

Kayak Jenner

Rent kayaks (single or double) from WaterTreks. It's recommended to call ahead, (707) 865-2249, at least 48 hours in advance to ensure someone is down at the rental tent. They are at 10438 Hwy. 1, Jenner, across the street from Café Aquatica. 

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Camp and Kayak at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest

    Sleeper Hit

    It's all about the water, and the camping, at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest, a High Sierra reservoir perfect for kayak explorations and pitching your tent with the lake in the background.

  2. Wapama Wows

    Hetch Hetchy can be overlooked in Yosemite National Park because of its more remote location and limited facilities. But this is where you’ll also find one of the best day hikes in the park: Wapama Falls.

  3. Sheep Tight!

    You’re not going to have to count sheep to get a good night’s sleep at Sheep Dung’s beautiful property in Anderson Valley near Boonville. Four modern cottages—tucked far apart from each other among 500 acres of rolling hills—are designed for blissful solitude. And it’s dog-friendly!

  4. Hike Mount Tamalpais into Muir Woods

    Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. All the Wright Stuff

    Avoiding drama? That’s a good thing. Unless you’re talking about campsites. In that case, the more dramatic the better! And Wright’s Beach on the Sonoma Coast is quite the drama queen—27 campsites sitting smack dab in the middle of the wild and raging Sonoma Coast State Beach.

  2. kirk creek campground big sur

    Sur Bet!

    You can spend $1,000 a night for an ocean-view room in Big Sur. Or you can spend $45 and wake up to the sound of crashing waves and incredible views of Big Sur’s coastline when staying at Kirk Creek Campground.

  3. Secret Redwoods + Camping by the River

    Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park is a little-known gem where skyscraping reds (the tallest living trees in the world!) fly under the radar. Grizzly’s ironically small size and location off the beaten path provide near total seclusion, not to mention relaxing camping!

  4. Three Falling

    Three waterfalls, and fewer people. McCloud Falls might be the best waterfall hike in Northern California. There are bigger waterfalls in the state, but it’s the whole package that makes this 4-mile (round-trip) hike truly memorable.