|Photo Credit Lyrinda Snyderman|
Experience the beautiful Noyo River Estuary and its wildlife!
The Noyo River Estuary is one of Mendocino County’s amazing paddling adventures! Noyo River is located in Mendocino County in northwestern California. The estuary is a small river whose mouth empties into Fort Bragg Harbor. Noyo River is a gentle class one river, suitable for experts and novices alike. It offers an enjoyable four-mile round trip for those looking for a slow, easy paddle.
The Noyo River is influenced directly by the tides. Plan your trip in accordance with the tidal currents, which change daily. Be sure to time your trip with the ebb and flow of tides. You can put-in and take-out from the Fort Bragg Harbor.
The river's headwaters are in the steep Mendocino Range, but downstream the river flows through gently sloping marine terraces before draining into the Pacific Ocean. Its tributaries flow from a 113 square mile watershed situated west of Willits and east of Fort Bragg, California. The western portion of the Noyo basin is made of old marine terraces and is relatively flat, with elevations sloping down to sea level.
The variety of things to do and see while in Fort Bragg is endless. You can hike, bicycle, fish, kayak or take a stroll on miles of unspoiled beaches. The region is filled with narrow streams running throughout the forests. But whatever you choose to do when you visit, you shouldn't neglect a leisurely stroll around Mendocino itself.
The river provides cold freshwater habitat for fish migration and spawning. Three fish species inhabit the Noyo River: steelhead, coho salmon and chinook salmon which are all listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Noyo River is a working harbor. Keep an eye out for fishing boats powering in and out to the sea. The river runs cold and clear except after heavy rain. Imagine it’s a warm, idyllic spring day, with just the tiniest hint of a cool breeze, and you’re drifting through an incredible riparian corridor as only paddlers can. A screeching bird dives from the treetops and soars past you, as you watch it glide over the hidden sloughs. The leisurely, quiet nature of flat water kayaking also lends itself to a wide array of wildlife viewing and photographing.
As you paddle up the calm, sun-dappled river, keep an eye out for kingfisher's nest in the river bank; an osprey in the trees, an otter trotting across a gravel bar, followed by her pup. One of the pleasures of photographing wildlife on the water is the joy of kayaking. With their ability to quietly glide through the water and access places that are difficult to reach on foot, photographers are able to capture images of animals in the water or feeding along the shore without disrupting them.
The Noyo River offers outdoor enthusiast’s excellent wildlife viewing and photography opportunities. All age kayakers will be delighted paddling on the placid waters of the Noyo River’s Estuary, where harbor seals, seagulls, river otters, the occasional sea lion and many species of coastal birds can be sighted. Bobcat, spotted skunks, black bear, beaver, mountain lions, and deer can also be found roaming through the surrounding forests, and spotted feeding along the river’s shoreline.
Around the next bend, you might see a beaver as you paddle through the wetlands in search of the abundant wildlife. The best time to observe waterfowl is during the winter months, either at sunrise or sunset. It's that magic moment when the sun envelops nature with a mystical glow.
The Noyo River in Mendocino County is a place of natural beauty and a paddling adventure you don’t want to miss!