I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 50 years and consider myself pretty well traveled and familiar with places to paddle and surf in Northern California. How wrong I've been. Since starting to paddle board about five years ago, I've been amazed at the number of new spots and places to be discovered - not to mention the great people I've met along the way that have helped guide me!
During the Summer we plan to document and share some of the best spots we've found. I know not everyone reading this is in Northern California, so we also plan to highlight and add other locations as well. Please feel free to send a note if you have a favorite spot to share that you'd like us to highlight.
One recent discovery is the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area, approximately 15,200 acres of baylands, tidal sloughs and wetland habitat. Most of the area is accessible only by boat or paddling, though some areas can be accessed from land.
Originally one of the richest wetland ecosystems in the nation, the San Francisco estuary once comprised over 4,600 square miles of habitat ranging from open water mud flats to tidal salt, brackish, and fresh water marshes to associated upland grasslands and riparian areas. This area was of global importance to the millions of migrating shorebirds and waterfowl that used it, as well as the resident populations of mammals, fish, and crustaceans. Unfortunately, since the first Spanish explorers arrived, over 90% of these wetland habitats have been dramatically altered or destroyed. At the northern edge of San Pablo Bay, the Napa, Sonoma, and Solano County tidal marshes have changed from an area once over 90 square miles to less than 50,000 acres presently. You can learn more about the area here.
Public Boat Launch Ramps:
Vallejo: next to Brinkman's Marine
Hudeman Slough: in Sonoma County, on Skaggs Is. Road, 1 mile south of Ramal Road
Cuttings Wharf: in Napa County, on Cuttings Wharf Road, south of State Hwy 12/121
You'll be amazed by the many sloughs that circulate through the interior of the marsh. Be sure to consult local tide tables for the best (and most safe) paddling opportunities to tour the area. Also please be aware of hunting activity during the months of October through January each year.