The Albion River, a Flat-water Paradise Kayakers Dream About
Morning and afternoon winds generally blow in off the ocean and up river; paddling against the combination of these winds and upstream current could make for a strenuous return paddle. It’s about a two hour paddle before you cannot paddle any further and need to turn around. The lower stretch of the river provides protected ocean access for small-craft vessels. The mouth of the Albion River contains submerged rock hazards. Both sides of the river mouth are lined with sea caves and beaches, some just wide enough for a few kayaks to pull ashore.
You can put-in at the Albion River Campground, in Albion, Mendocino County, located on the ocean side of Coast Highway 1, six miles south of the historic village of Mendocino. The scenic coastal drive along Highway 1 from the San Francisco Bay area to the Mendocino Coast and Albion River Campground meanders through some of the most beautiful vistas in the state of California.
From Cloverdale, take Highway 128 west, through Boonville and along the Navarro River to Highway 1. Travel north about three and a half miles, cross the high bridge over the Albion River. Immediately after crossing the bridge take the first right at the Albion River Campground sign. The campground is on the river below the bridge. Canoe and kayak rentals are available from the campground. There is also a dirt launch located under the bridge that allows you to paddle out into the ocean.
With the gateway to the redwoods on one side and the coast on the other, the Albion River is an extraordinary paddling destination with miles of incredible scenery and peaceful water to explore. There is a form of intimacy with this river. The spring or fall is the preferred time of year to paddle, as wind can be a factor in the summer. The quiet spring and fall seasons offer a pace to suit everyone. Towering timberlands rise hundreds of feet up hillsides that frame the pale autumn skies. You may encounter some boat traffic near the launch ramp on weekends between April through September, but otherwise you can expect to be alone with the wind whispering through the spires. It’s the kind of place that makes you want stay longer. It truly is a paddler's paradise.
USE CAUTION WHEN PADDLING ON A RIVER:
As fun and exciting as it may be to kayak on a river, don’t forget that paddling on a river entails an amount of risk due to the elements of nature. Rivers have different behaviors throughout the year. River flows can be impacted by runoff from storms, snow melt and by the daily ebb and flow of the ocean tides. What once was flat water can quickly become Class I to Class III rapids after a recent storm, which is best left to paddlers who have the skills to maneuver around rocks, and strainers and who know how to read water. The drought in California has also affected the water level on many rivers in California. Paddlers should stay up-to-date on the conditions that affect paddling a river, such as river height and discharge, tidal schedules, river flows and current weather activity. Call before departing for current water level conditions. When paddling on a river, always go with two people who are familiar with the river. Why two? In case something happens to one of them, you won’t be left paddling down a river alone.