Just south of Mendocino lies the Big River. It was down this river, in the mid-1800s, that the timber used to build the Brewery Gulch Inn was floated. Today, thanks to an unprecedented community effort in 2002 that generated over $ 25 million in private and public funds, 7,334 acres of the Big River estuary and surrounding forestland have been purchased and are now permanently protected. Over 22 species of fish and 131 species of birds can be found here.
Catch-A-Canoe and Kayak Too is a great place to gear up for exploring the Big River. Here, it is possible to rent single person kayaks, tandem kayaks, as well as outrigger canoes built from local redwood. A Class 1 river, Big River is well-suited for novice paddlers and provides a great way to interact with nature on the most elemental level.
I took a friend’s son, Patrick, with me on this adventure. We had a great time paddling about 3 miles up river. Along the way, we found a harbor seal sunning on a sand spit and a family of three otters that were as curious about us as we were about them. Hawks soared overhead, ducks took off and landed along the way, and fish occasionally broke the surface.