Paddling Notes: Want to step up your paddling adventures? Whether you kayak or canoe, consider paddling the L.A. River. The L.A. River is surrounded by natural beauty and easily accessible urban amenities, which makes it a perfect paddling getaway that delivers on its promises without having to leave the city. It is a rewarding paddling retreat that everyone must see with their own eyes to believe.
Kayaking and canoeing are now permitted on two designated stretches of the Los Angeles River; the 2.5 mile Elysian Valley River section and the 2 mile Sepulveda Basin River section. The peace and tranquility of these two relatively unknown Los Angeles paddling getaways are a welcome haven for all those who have paddled here. You will witness first-hand a scenic stretch of the Los Angeles River that offers a pleasurable jaunt for both novice and experienced kayakers, downriver through Class I and Class II sections. As you paddle through gentle ripples and eddies, the river winds its way along picturesque ridges, where you can catch a glimpse of a variety of birds, such as great white herons, geese, ducks, and egrets. In order to protect endangered bird species, foot traffic is restricted to paved surfaces, except at the designated take-out trail.
The L.A. River is well worth a visit even during times of low water, as the striking, scenery is still visible and the plentiful wildlife even more likely to be near the water. So bring the binoculars and your camera: a superb paddling retreat awaits!
Kayak Fishing: Fishing is allowed in the Elysian Valley River Recreation area along the banks, five feet up from the slope of the channel or from a boat. In the Sepulveda Basin River Recreation area, fishing is permitted from a or on the non-restricted banks.
Open: Public launch access is permitted from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, from sunrise to sunset daily.
Fees: Individuals can paddle free of charge, but groups require a permit which can be obtained for a fee from Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority Lariverrecreation@mrca.ca.gov 310-858-7272 Ext. 300
Wind & Weather Conditions: Paddling is not permitted when a National Weather Service Flood, small stream or thunderstorm watch or warning has been issued for the affected watershed.
Always be on the lookout when paddling a river to avoid unseen obstacles that can snag your kayak just below the water visibility line. You can get hung up in fallen trees with a root structure or branches under the water, which may cause you to capsize. Visible or submerged rocks just beneath the water’s surface present an array of challenges that may also be a hazard for inflatable kayaks.
You may need to portage around a few low flow areas, and maneuver through an occasional riffle. Also, keep in mind the river can become more turbulent after a heavy rain, which can create water hazards. Water quality is subject to change without notice after a recent rain. Here in Southern California, the general rule of thumb is to wait 72 hours after rain before getting back in the water. As an extra precaution, avoid hand-to-face water contact and put plugs in the self-bailing holes. There is a rinse station at Egret Park.
Facilities: Fires, barbecues, smoking, alcohol, dogs, bicycles, and swimming are not allowed. Non-motorized, steerable boats such as kayaks or canoes are permitted, but inner tubes, motorized watercraft and vessels are not allowed. You are required to wear a life jacket at all times while on the water.