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Where to Kayak Near Chico

July 22, 2022 / by Hignell Rentals Team

Woman kayakingLooking for places to kayak near Chico? We have a short list of the best spots to check out. Whether you are a seasoned paddler or a recreational novice, there are options for all. Check 'em out and maybe you'll find the perfect place for a day on the water!



Forebay Aquatic Center

Only 25 minutes from Chico, the Forebay Aquatic Center is a great place to try out kayaking and see if it's for you. They have rentals that run from May 26 through Labor Day (coming up quick!). They are in operation Saturday and Sunday 10a-8p. The simple man-made forebay is easy to navigate with basically no current so it's a perfect place to learn. 


Black Butte Lake

Just an hour from Chico you'll find Black Butte Lake. A great destination for kayaking, fishing and camping. When the lake is full, there are some 40 miles of shoreline to explore. The lake is pretty exposed so it can get windy at times. It's a good spot for both beginning and intermediate kayakers.

Lake Almanor

This beautiful mountain lake sits at about 4500 ft. elevation and is just under 2 hrs. from Chico. Just before you get to the lake, you will go through the small city of Chester. There are some great local spots to grab some food and supplies before you hit the lake. From Lake Almanor you will have a beautiful view of Mount Lassen in the distance. This is a popular water skiing destination so you might want to stick to the shoreline and explore some of the coves. The morning and evening are the best times to get out on the lake.

Bucks Lake

17 miles of shoreline, tall pine trees and  sandy beaches make Bucks Lake a picturesque kayaking destination. There are lot's of fishing and camping opportunities as well. It's only a 2 hour drive from Chico and you'll find it much quieter than more popular sites like Lake Oroville.

Lower Feather River

Just below the Oroville Dam and only 30 - 40 minutes from Chico, there is a lot of slow moving flat water on the lower Feather River. It's a great spot to learn or for a long and lazy drift down the river.

Paradise Lake

About 40 minutes from Chico, Paradise Lake is a beautiful lake that is great for kayaking and fishing. The lake is closed on Wednesdays and swimming is prohibited. 



Upper Sacramento River

The upper Sacramento River from Redding to Red Bluff is a mix of winding turns and small riffles. You can put in near the Sundial Bridge, only about 1.5 hrs. from Chico. In the springtime the flow is more intense than the low flow of late summer. Experienced paddlers can make a multiple day trip out of this run. Less experienced paddlers can still find very mellow stretches to enjoy. 


Upper Feather River (Middle Fork)

According to Whitewater Guidebook "The Middle Fork of the Feather River is one of the most beautiful and difficult rivers in California. It should only be attempted by teams of expert rafters and kayakers with experience in remote wilderness. It's usually done as a 3-4 day trip so there's plenty of time to scout and portage rapids."

If that description doesn't scare you, this might be the spot for you. The rugged beauty of the terrain and the challenging rapids will make for an experience to remember. It will take a couple hours to get up to the launch area and you will want to leave another vehicle below, where you plan to end. There is some pretty treacherous water through this area, so try to go with some one who already knows the area.

Feather River Kayaking

For more ideas about things to do in the summer around Chico and other surrounding areas, check out our North State Living page!Things To Do In The North State

Topics: North State Living, Living in Chico

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At Hignell Rentals we have been maintaining and renting properties in the North State since 1970. We value relationships and caring communities, honoring and encouraging one another, unwavering integrity, uncommon generosity, and growth and innovation. We strive to provide our residents with a quality living environment across the North State in Redding, Red Bluff, Chico, Oroville and surrounding areas.