Paddle the China Camp Shoreline

I just completed the recon with Kevin, Jane and Judy, and this place is gorgeous -- it ranks up there with Tomales Bay and Elkhorn Slough for scenery and paddling conditions.

The plan is to start at China Camp Village at 9 a.m. and paddle north along the shore, then west (inland) into Gallinas Creek on a relatively slack current  and with little to no headwind. Snack/lunch stop on the dock at the McInnis County Park boat launch. Head back to the beach between noon and 1 p.m. with favorable wind and current. Click here to see a map of the route.

China Camp Village is within the China Camp State Park; day-use parking costs $5. You will need exact change because there is no manned entrance booth; instead, there are self-pay "iron rangers" in the upper and lower parking lots for the village.

If you put the address shown as the event's location (899 N. San Pedro Rd., San Rafael, CA) into a navigation system, it should lead you to the turn-off for the village parking lot. I've also posted a PDF with directions and pictures.

In addition to the normal paddling essentials (proper clothing, PFD, drinking water, sun protection, self-rescue gear, etc.), please bring your own picnic lunch and a bow line (rope) at least 4 feet long for tying up at McInnis Park. The dock is small, and the RSVP list is long, so we will probably need to implement a valet parking scheme (you step out onto the dock with your lunch; someone tows your boat a short distance away and ties it up.)

This paddle is rated for everyone, with the caution that conditions on the bay can be variable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Steve

    Seek, I agree with Dave. Great photojournalism report on our paddle! Thanks for posting it.

    August 1, 2012

  • Dave D

    Really enjoyed the company and the scenery. (Are there only nice people in Kayakers' Alliance? Where are the jerks? I've never met any.) Very grateful to John and Jenny for being the rear guard and AAA service. The whole day would have been delightful if not for that headwind -- yikes! -- it was nothing like the recon! All you other reviewers are being too charitable. But Steve warned us that the wind would not be from the typical direction, and we went out anyway, right? Brave souls. I'm proud to have paddled with you.

    July 31, 2012

  • Dave D

    Seek: Your blog is awesome. You took a lot of great photos, too. That was a really nice surprise. Thanks!!

    July 31, 2012

  • Steve

    Well organized by Dave, stayed on schedule, beautiful place to paddle, really nice group of people, comfy place for lunch. Unusually strong headwind for the paddle back, added a little excitement to an otherwise very mellow paddle, Dave made a good call in suggesting we split into slow and fast groups. And thanks so much to Jerry for the surprise raffle!

    July 30, 2012

  • Amrik G.

    I enjoyed the paddling in the china camp and the company of group members. This was my first group kayking trip. Before I use to do all alone. Being in the group was more fun. But I think I need better Kayak and more practice so that I can keep up with other members.

    July 29, 2012

  • Eileen M.

    Thanks much Dave for organizing another great paddle! I loved that Los Gallinas Creek area and China Camp is beautiful as usual! Great people! Your son Jake is so cute too.

    July 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks Dave for organizing this Meeting. It was great meeting everyone. The area was beautiful and although my legs and shoulders are sore today it was well worth it.

    July 29, 2012

  • John M.

    Thanks, Dave, for introducing many of us to an enjoyable, interesting venue, and thanks for the organization and preparation that made it convenient and safe for us participants. And, as always, a great group. Thanks, Jerry, for spicing up the day with your mini-raffle (great prizes!). The creative product of a fertile mind. Given the winds, I'd like to see what it's like to do the trip in reverse (Gallinas Creek to China Camp and return). I'd love to be going the other way in the afternoon (like taking a taxi). I'm picturing you with your chute up, sailing away into the sunset. :^)

    July 29, 2012

  • Seek

    Thank you Dave & Jerry for the meet up. Thank you Jenny & John for sweeping. Here is my write-up...

    http://bakayaker.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=134&f=13

    ...hope you all enjoy it. Looking forward to next time!

    July 28, 2012

  • kristina Y.

    Wow was it windy. Nice folks and great trip. What a workout. Thanks Dave for organizing. I'll definitely be attending more in the future.

    July 28, 2012

  • Dave D

    MAG: so sorry you are/were under the weather. on the bright side, you avoided what felt like a 15mph headwind x 2.5 miles on the way back! (Nice job, everybody!)

    July 28, 2012

  • Jerry O.

    This was a great suggestion on Dave's part. Many of us had never paddled this particular part of the bay. The winds were challenging, but well worth the effort. Thanks to Dave for organizing a very successful event. Thanks to Jenny and John for once again for going above and beyond.

    July 28, 2012

  • MAG

    Woke up with a very bad cold and sore throat...won't be able to make it this time. : ( <---big frowny face. Have a great time, everyone!

    July 28, 2012

  • Dave D

    Kristina has asked what time we expect to return. My best guess: between 2 and 3 pm. See you all there!

    July 27, 2012

  • Dave D

    Hey everyone: Valet docking was a fun idea, but instead we will have people team up to carry their kayaks up the ramp and set them down in the grass immediately downstream (east) of the picnic area. Simpler, less risky, and probably less time-consuming. And you'll be able to access your stuff, make adjustments to your boats, etc. Thanks to John and Jenny for helping me think out the options.

    July 16, 2012

  • Dave D

    Julien: Please do bring that. We may want to double it over for 50' of the required strength. Either way, it will be useful! Thanks!!

    July 12, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Dave, I have a one piece of 100 ft of 3/8" diamond braid poly rope. Would that help?

    July 12, 2012

  • Dave D

    All: For valet docking, we will need to piece together a 150' rope, preferably with a working load of about 200 lbs. (3/8" twisted poly qualifies). Happy to buy some, but it would be nice to borrow instead. Anyone already have this stuff on hand?

    July 11, 2012

  • Dave D

    Jenny: Thanks! I welcome the help. I think I've come up with a pretty good method. Will share it with you and John shortly -- it just needs a little editing for clarity.

    July 8, 2012

  • Jenny S.

    I can also help "park" the kayaks as needed for lunch.

    July 8, 2012

  • Dave D

    Judy: Your photos are so good! You really captured the beauty of the route and the fun we had. (Let me assure the July 28 group that I won't be trying to kite-sail that day. Herding kayakers is enough!)

    July 8, 2012

  • Dave D

    John: Thanks for volunteering. You will have an important role. I'll bounce my plan off you in advance.

    July 8, 2012

  • John M.

    Happy to be a valet boy.

    July 8, 2012

  • Judy A.

    I just uploaded a bunch of photos of our recon paddle with Dave for those who would like to see a preview. Hey, Dave, after our conversation about kayaking with dogs, I took my older Standard poodle kayaking yesterday and again today. She took it like a duck to water!

    July 8, 2012

  • Dave D

    This is great - lots of new and old friends are signed up. The valet parking plan is pretty well formulated now. Hope it's as brilliant in real life as it is in my head.

    July 3, 2012

  • MAG

    Thanks for scouting this out--sounds wonderful! I'll see if I can find some valet clothing... : )

    July 1, 2012

  • Dave D

    Laura: So sorry. I have a tandem, but it's already full of Domingos. Hope you can find a seat in someone's boat.

    June 27, 2012

  • Laura B

    Sounds fun! Does anyone have a double kayak which I could paddle with you?

    June 26, 2012

  • Dave D

    Gin: I look forward to seeing you at another event soon.
    Steve: Great info from you, as always. Thanks very much!

    May 1, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I would probably wait for a more calmer wind. I hate to lag behind and hold people up.

    April 26, 2012

  • Steve

    Or as an alternative to renting, you can always buy the brand new Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 kayak that I have listed on the Kayakers' Alliance message board! Exact same boat I paddle, great for the Bay or coastal paddling. And a great deal!

    April 26, 2012

  • Steve

    Hi Dave and Gin,

    Wind conditions in the China Camp area should be pretty mild in July. In the summer wind in this area is almost always from the SW, so while it can get pretty windy in the area between San Quentin and Tiburon, this same wind is blocked by the China Camp hills. Re: kayaking shops, the closest one is on the San Rafael canal--see 101surfsports.com. I don't know if they do take-away rentals, but call, ask for Tom, tell him you are doing a paddle with Kayakers' Alliance.

    April 26, 2012

  • Dave D

    Gin: Good questions. Outback Adventures in Larkspur (about 8 miles from the put-in) has take-away rentals for $50-$60 a day. http://www.outbackadventures.com/rentals/kayaking/take_away/index.htm . I think an 8-mile paddle would be pretty ambitious for a beginner. (Steve, if you are monitoring these comments, maybe you can weigh in on how we expect the conditions to be at the end of July?)

    April 25, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    where do I rent a Kayak nearest to the location and is this meetup good for beginners?

    April 24, 2012

  • Dave D

    Hi, Debbie. July 28 is the date we arrived at. I'll try to delete the text (in description and comments) referring to other dates. Hope you can make it!

    February 10, 2012

  • debbie

    so, is the trip in july or aug?

    February 10, 2012

  • Jerry O.

    We often have folks who can make a Saturday or Sunday but not both. Having two events on one weekend during the busy season works.

    January 7, 2012

  • Dave D

    Steve: Thanks for the follow-up comments. Obviously I missed the point on the first read. Got it now. Thanks very much.

    January 3, 2012

  • Steve

    Dave: At China Camp, April and May are more, not less riskly than June, as the NW winds start early in the spring and then calm toward summer. Best time to paddle in this area is in the winter (now), when there are no thermal winds, and it is normally quite calm unless a rain storm is passing through.

    January 3, 2012

  • Dave D

    Debbie: Good catch! When I'm on a computer again, I'll fix the date. Thank you!

    January 3, 2012

  • Steve

    Re: wind--late NW spring winds are more of an issue here than the SW summer winds, which are blocked near the shore. April and May are the windiest months (great for windsurfing--can be 30+ mph & choppy--but bad for kayaking). In June the NW winds are tapering off, but can still get occasional windy days. For example, checked the iWindsurf wind archive for nearby sites, and while June 9, 2011 was reasonably calm, on June 9, 2010 NW winds were averaging around 15 and gusting over 20 from noon on.

    January 3, 2012

  • Steve

    Dave: According to the chart for Gallinas Creek, at 10 AM on June 9 the tide is ~ 0 feet, and falling. Much of the shore around China Camp becomes a giant, mucky mud flat at tides < 2 feet or even higher (e.g., at Bullhead Flat in China Camp, from where I occasionally kayak or windsurf). I don't know specifically about the creek near the restaurant, nor the beach at China Village--have you checked to make sure there will be enough water to launch/land?

    January 3, 2012

  • Kevin T

    I'm always up for one of your events, Dave. Next June is good long term planning for me.

    December 12, 2011

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