Magazine article Sunset

Good Canoeing Again on the Russian River

Magazine article Sunset

Good Canoeing Again on the Russian River

Article excerpt

Good canoeing again on the Russian River

It's a classic place for family canoeing: the wide, mild-mannered, not-too-cold Russian River, just an hour and a half north of San Francisco.

But in recent years, the river has suffered some highly publicized problems. In 1985, the city of Santa Rosa illegally dumped partially treated wastewater into its waters. In 1986, there were devastating winter floods.

Flood damage is now pretty well taken care of, and the river is running clean again--with assurances from water officials that the isolated illegal dumping will not be repeated. Now's a good time to get back to the Russian. And as busy as this river can become some summer weekends, you can still find a peaceful spot to see a great blue heron, watch a turtle sunning, or pull up and picnic on sandy bank.

More places rent canoes (we list them on page 52). One outfitter also offers "minnows" --short, stable kayaks with cockpits big enough so the pilot can get out easily. After a 30-minute lesson, we found our minnows great fun and easy to handle on this slow-moving river--even by 13-year-old first-timers.

If you plan a long paddle, start early to avoid facing predictable afternoon winds as you paddle downstream. Respect private docks and beaches. By late summer, the river can get quite shallow; check with your outfitter about water levels.

The season runs from about April 1 to October 1. Call ahead to reserve a canoe.

With all rentals, life jackets and paddles are included. Bring sun protection, drinks, lunch. One canoe can carry an ice chest and lunch, plus either two or three adults or two adults and one or two small children. Area code is 707.

Burke's Canoe Trips, 8600 River Road (at Mirabel Road), Forestville (off State 116); 887-1222; open 9 to 6 daily. Canoes rent for $25 per day for unguided trips. …

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