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How to Plan for a Kayak TripCall the lake for the current operating hours, and days and months of the year the lake is open to kayakers. Some lakes are only open certain days of the week (and sections of the lake) to kayakers.

Quagga Mussel Restrictions
Inquire about any special lake permits or quagga mussel inspections required. Check for quagga mussel rules to see what the lake’s stipulations are regarding allowing kayaks on the lake. Some lakes have banned all private watercraft, or watercraft with licenses plates from Southern California. Other lakes require an inspection sticker which may be done at another location. Rules regarding quagga mussel restrictions can change without notice. Always call before departing.

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Boat Speed Limit
Lakes with higher boat speed limits tend to draw more jet ski, water ski and power boat traffic. The lower the boat speed limit, the more peaceful your paddle usually will be.

Some people prefer desert terrain and others prefer alpine meadows. The type of terrain a lake has often makes or breaks a paddle outing. The time of year you go makes a big difference also. Everything is usually green in the spring and turns brown the further into the summer and fall it is.

Lake Facilities
Always find out before planning a trip”) if there are any restrictions on the size or type of kayak, and if they allow kayaking. Some lakes do not allow water body contact, and have restrictions on sit-in or sit-on-top kayaks. Find out if you need boat reservations for a kayak. Do they allow kayak fishing or SUP paddling? Does the lake have flush toilets, or portable outhouses, running water, picnic area, a marina, a general store? Do they allow barbeques?

Climate, Weather
How to Plan for a Kayak TripOf all the factors, none has a greater or more variable effect than the weather. When picking a destination, you also want to keep in mind the weather in the area during that time of year. It is vital to understand what weather conditions you are likely to encounter, and then prepare accordingly.

Hypothermia and heat stroke are a concern while kayaking, so dress appropriately for all weather conditions. Before departing, (and before you begin paddling), always check the current weather conditions with the local weather station, a park official, or with a weather web site such as . There is nothing worse than driving a long distance to a lake only to discover bad weather, or a forest fire, unless of course, you get caught halfway around the lake in a thunderstorm!

Beginning in August, the water level is drawn down for irrigation and spring melt off in some lakes and reservoirs, which leaves only a fraction of the lake left to paddle. During the late spring and summer, the wind is normally calm in the morning and tends to pick up around 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. unless there are storm conditions, when the wind can often be gusty throughout the entire day. Never use up your energy reserve in case you encounter gusty wind conditions, which can turn a 20 minute paddle into a strenuous two hour paddle, due to the amount of energy you will expend paddling against the wind. If the winds tend to be calmer in the early morning, get on the water early.

Keeping an eye on the weather will help you make safe, intelligent decisions during the planning stages and during the actual trip. How to Plan a Kayak Trip

Directions & Maps
Always refer to a current California state map for updated roadways to the lake and campground. It is also advisable to call the lake in advance to check for any road closures, forest fires, fishing tournaments, or special events that will draw crowds.

Wild Critters
Are there any animals which might require special consideration when packing food, disposing of cooking waste, ensuring your own safety, etc.? Do you know the proper way to respond if you encounter a dangerous animal? Do you need bear spray? Do you have sufficient knowledge to treat insect and snake bites, and other such injuries? Remove all scented items from your car (and tent). At your camp, empty all “food” out of your car, (and tent), and place it in a bear-proof locker whenever possible.


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