Wildlife Observation Paddle Tours
Looking for a quiet place this summer to paddle with friends and enjoy wildlife right in your own backyard? Welcome to Stone Lakes NWR’s Wildlife Observation Paddle Program!
The Canoe & Kayak Wildlife Observation Program wanders along a historically dredged area of Lower Beach Lake and offers the public the opportunity for guided summer wildlife viewing and interpretation paddles. This free program will run from June through September and offer a unique opportunity for water enthusiasts to enjoy a normally restricted part of the refuge within a 10 minute drive from downtown Sacramento. Experience local wildlife up-close such as river otters, egrets, herons, hawks, pelicans, beavers and pond turtles while learning about the refuge, Central Valley habitat and on-going restoration projects. The program is open to all individuals/groups and experience levels. All paddle tours are docent guided in a normally restricted area; there is no general access for self-guided paddling on the refuge.
When: July, August, September
Paddle Location: Stone Lakes NWR SP Cut Slough, a 2-mile historic dredged area of Lower Beach Lake; see Directions below.
Reservations: No reservations needed! Just show-up with your canoe or kayak on the specified date and time. If you have a large group and want to make special arrangements, please contact the refuge at stonelakes [at] fws [dot] gov
What to Bring: Bring a non-motorized canoe or kayak, paddle, and Coast Guard approved type II or III personal flotation device (PFD) for each person. All participants MUST wear PFD’s regardless of swimming skills and experience. We also recommend to bring water, sunscreen, hat, snacks/lunch, insect repellent, and any other personal comfort items you may need. Boat portage is approximately 100 feet to the launching dock. The refuge does NOT provide or rent out boats; you must bring your own boat.
What NOT to Bring: Sorry, but alcohol, dogs/pets, fishing gear, motors, float-tubes, paddle boards, personal inflatable rafts (inflatable & pedal kayaks are ok), homemade rafts, water cannons, bbq’s, radios and remote controlled devices must stay at home. Remember, this is a relaxed quiet wildlife viewing paddle, not a float party.
Additional Important Tidbits (please read): Although the slough is lined with trees, there will be little shade as you paddle, so please be prepared for being exposed to the sun and heat. The slough itself is pretty much a stagnate waterway with very little movement, but afternoon winds can pickup and make paddling a little more strenuous. This is a great opportunity for viewing wildlife; you are welcome to bring binoculars and a camera, but remember we will be on the water and you and your gear may get wet. This is a slower paced, relaxed paddle for viewing wildlife, so if you feel a need for speed please visit a local reservoir. You will be parking and unloading close to the floating dock where we will launch; you will only need to portage your boat approximately <100 feet, and there is the opportunity to either land launch or dock launch. This is an undeveloped site with no running water, although a non-flush restroom will be available. Remember, the wildlife is sharing the slough with us, so please respect their home; 'taking a dunk' and swimming is strictly prohibited.
DIRECTIONS: All scheduled trips meet at the refuge Elk Grove Blvd gate directly off west side of Interstate 5 (take the Elk Grove Blvd exit and turn west; the guides will meet you at the North Stone Lake Unit red & white striped gate at the turnaround). Be sure to meet at the Elk Grove Blvd gate; we do NOT meet at the office headquarters! Best to arrive at least 10 minutes early. Please allow yourself the entire allotted time for the trip duration with the group. All tours are approximately 3 hours unless otherwise noted, so please plan accordingly to stay the entire time. Remember, be prompt for all scheduled paddle times as the group will go through a gate that gets locked!