Kayaking near Lodi is arguably the perfect activity for low-key exploring. Participants are safely ensconced in self-propelled watercraft.
There’s very little current to fight against. And it’s hard to get lost on a river when there are only two directions: Upstream and downstream.
The other upside? There’s no shortage of waterways to seek out. Rivers and canals in the region are all lined with lush oak trees, tule reeds and cattails. Dozens of birds, insects, beavers and deer make their homes along the water, too, making for some special sightings for wildlife enthusiasts.
The experts at Headwaters Kayak Shop of Lodi suggested the following locations to get a kayak or paddleboard on the water.
At Lodi Lake
1101 W. Turner Road
Shove off from the Headwaters Boathouse between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Use the powerboat launch on the north end of the lake between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Or put your boat in the water just inside the Nature Area between dawn and dusk.
There is a $5 parking fee.
Mokelumne Beach RV Park
18450 N. Highway 99 in Acampo
It’s a spartan RV park, but the dirt road down to the water allows access to stunning and quiet stretches of the Mokelumne River.
There is a $5 parking fee.
Mokelumne River Day Use Area
Clements, at the base of the Camanche Dam near the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery.
Get your boat in the water here, then float down to Mackville Park in Clements proper for a two or three hour trip.
There is a $5 parking fee at Mackville Park.
15799 N. Glasscock Rd., Lodi
This area offers a boat launch and overnight camping. Be advised, there are stairs and a levee between the parking lot and the water. Tower Park is close enough for a leisurely paddle to dinner. The parking fee is $5.
Cosumnes River Preserve
13501 Franklin Blvd., Galt
Park in the upper lot, then launch your craft from a dock just south of the visitor parking lot. Bring wheels to transport your kayak or borrow a set from the Visitor Center.
It’s free to park, but the Preserve operates largely on donations.
Delta Meadows River Park
17645 Highway 160, Locke
An old state park closed to vehicles, this location is open to foot traffic and kayakers. Wheel your craft down a levee path to the boat launch to explore the many narrow channels in the area. There are no services or restrooms here, but there are also no fees.
14001 W. Walnut Grove Road, Thornton
The boat launch here is open 24 hours a day, which is ideal for fishermen who like to get on the water early. The fee is $10. There’s a bait house and a couple of local restaurants to make a day of it.
3356 Snug Harbor Dr.
Launch your kayak into Steamboat Slough between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. for a $5 parking fee.