Los Angeles

Yes, people kayak in LA

Waiting kayakers

Last Friday, I heard from tacitus about a Hidden LA event to kayak the Los Angeles river. cstone was able to get a pair of the very limited tickets and Dave and I went this morning.

Kayaking in Los Angeles is really about the river itself. In 2008, Heather Wylie, then a member of the Army Corps of Engineers, organized a trip with activist George Wolfe to kayak 51-miles of the Los Angeles River. Because of that effort, the EPA declared the Los Angeles River “traditional navigable waters” in 2010. This put the Los Angeles River under the protection of the Clean Water Act. LAist has photos documenting that fateful 3 day trip, including one with my favorite piece of graffiti.

The put-in

Today we met up south of Burbank Blvd. in Woodley Park. George, now of LA River Expeditions, was there when we arrived. The put-in was in Sepulveda Basin which is home to the movie famous Sepulveda Dam. We headed north from there into the park with dense greenery on both sides. The water was just deep enough to be useable without bottoming out. You could see tiny minnows in the stream and we followed a great white heron up the stream for most of the trip. There were many plastic bags draped over tree branches from flood waters and the occasional twisted rusting hulk of a shopping cart.

Appropriate signage

We eventually arrived at a small rapid constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers. We took our kayaks to the top and shoved our way down the thing. I described it to Dave as riding a laundry basket down a staircase. We then headed back to the beginning.

The 2 hour adventure was a great and truly unique experience. While on the river, you could hardly imagine you were still in LA. It really did get me excited for the future of the LA River as it transitions from a giant concrete storm drain to a more traditional body of water.


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