The 2014 Los Angeles River Kayak Season Is Open!

Experience the greenest stretch of the Los Angeles River this Summer. LACC leads kayakers under the Bubank Boulevard Bridge, in the San Fernando Valley. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Experience the greenest stretch of the Los Angeles River this Summer. LACC leads kayakers under the Bubank Boulevard Bridge, in the San Fernando Valley. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

I got a chance to do a preview kayak tour of the Los Angeles River yesterday. The tour was part of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps Paddle the L.A. River program. It took place in the most natural stretch of the 51-mile-long L.A. River: the Sepulveda Basin. The river runs through the middle of the 2000-acre Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, located in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, near the intersection of the 101 Freeway and the 405 Freeway. The Sepulveda Basin is easily accessible via the Metro Orange Line; both the Woodley Avenue and the Balboa Blvd. stations are located there.

The Sepulveda Basin lies behind the Sepulveda Dam. Behind the dam, the riverbanks are not lined with concrete. Both banks are lined with tall trees. There is plenty of wildlife: ducks, egrets, herons, killdeer, stilts, dragonflies, damselflies, fish, and coyote. 

L.A. River kayakers in the "little grand canyon" in Sepulveda Basin.

L.A. River kayakers in the “little grand canyon” in Sepulveda Basin.

I had paddled the river there before, in the 1990s at clean-up events, a not-quite-fully-permitted expedition in 2008, and again at the Conservation Corps first permitted season in 2011. This morning was my wife’s first kayak trip on the L.A. River.  She was impressed at just how natural it felt, right in the middle of the suburban San Fernando Valley. With walls of green foliage on both sides and no automobile noise, it’s very peaceful.

Hopefully, with a $1 billion habitat restoration project about to get underway, more parts of the river will be as pleasant as the Sepulveda Basin.

The 2014 kayaking season started yesterday and continues through September 13th, 2014. The kayak tours are fully-supported and beginner-friendly, with all necessary gear included. The roughly 2-mile round trip takes around 90 minutes. Tickets went on sale yesterday. In past years, these tickets have completely sold out within a day or two. Many Saturdays are already sold out. Buy yours now to experience a part of Los Angeles that many Angelenos don’t even know exists.

Kayaking is a great way to get a close-up look at the wildlife that inhabit the river. Birds, including this snowy egret, are less spooked by people approaching them on the water.

Kayaking the river is a great way to get a close-up look at the wildlife that inhabit the river. Birds, including this snowy egret, are less spooked by people approaching them on the water.