Laguna de Santa Rosa
Kayaking and canoeing in the Laguna is possible only in winter and only when rainfall has been significant within the previous one to two weeks. This is true in part because in many places the Laguna is a shallow floodplain environment and there needs to be enough water under the boat to allow navigation. High water levels are important also because of an invasive aquatic plant called Ludwigia in the system. When water levels are low paddling through the dense, tangled mats of plant material is not possible.
The Laguna’s 22-mile channel extends from Cotati to its confluence with the Russian River at Forestville, but the Laguna is far more than its main channel. It is a unique ecological system comprised of a mosaic of creeks, open water, perennial marshes, seasonal wetlands, riparian forests, oak woodlands and grasslands. The Laguna is an important stopover for thousands of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway and is home to a wide variety of life: more than 200 species of birds ranging from bald eagles to hummingbirds, steelhead, salamanders, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, mink, badger, and river otter.
In addition to the habitat it provides for wildlife, the Laguna is used for agricultural, recreational and educational purposes. It serves as a natural holding basin during our wet season and as an overflow area for the Russian River during floods, slowing and capturing floodwaters and easing their impact on lower Russian River communities. As the receiving water of a watershed where most of the county’s human population lives, it is a landscape feature of critical importance to Sonoma County’s water quality, flood control, and biodiversity.
Occidental Road near its intersection with Sanford Rd, Santa Rosa Property owned by County of Sonoma and trail maintained by Regional Parks Department You can paddle either north or south from this spot. If going south you may need to put in south of the Ludwigia that clogs the channel. If going north, follow the path at the base of the road west to the channel.
Santa Rosa Creek at Willowside Road, Santa Rosa Property owned by City of Santa Rosa If water levels are high enough you can kayak west in Santa Rosa Creek to the confluence with the Laguna, then turn south and follow the Laguna. How to Get There: The entrance to the trail is on Willowside Road, 0.5 miles south of Guerneville Road and 0.5 miles north of Hall Road. Park on the wide shoulders along Willowside Road near the trail.
Laguna confluence with the Russian River in Forestville. The Laguna joins the Russian River at Mirabel Trailer Park and Campground, 8400 River Road, Forestville. There is an easy put in area just behind the campground office. Mirabel Park rents kayaks and canoes, or you can bring your own. There is a small fee to park and launch your own boat. Check in at the office. From there you can go quite a ways upstream; you’ll be heading east then eventually south. This is an area not often visited by boaters and it has a quite different “feel” from the open, floodplain areas of the Laguna. It is more creek like with a heavy riparian canopy and steep banks on either side.