A trip to the Albion River can be a pleasant estuarine outing.
The Albion River is in Mendocino County a little north of the Navarro River (which California Highway 128 follows out to the Pacific).
The Albion stays open to the Pacificn in contrast to the Navarro, Gualala, and the Russian Rivers to the south—all of which have a tendency to close their mouths and become lagoons in the summer.
The Albion feels alive, as if it inhales and exhales briny water from the Eastern Pacific twice each day with the flooding and ebbing tidal currents.
The Albion is home to familiar denizens of Northern California’s estuaries: Harbor Seals, Great Blue Herons, Cormorants, Osprey, Great Egrets, and Kingfishers, among much else.
It is the quiet that makes the Albion River so special.
An old road, unused since the area was logged off long ago, follows the north bank of the river. Remnants of the loggers’ docks and piers rot along the southern bank. Forests have grown back along the banks of the Albion.
As far as human noises go, all is quiet now save for the occasional drone of small aircraft passing overhead. You hear mostly birds: winds whistling in Cormorants’ wings; Ospreys whistling their delight in finding fish (and their splashing plunges into the river); Kingfishers scolding.
Soon after paddling upstream you leave modern human activity behind, save for a few empty houseboats moored quietly upstream.
When planning your paddling adventure on the Albion, here are some guidelines to keep ensure your trip is a success.
- Plan your trip to ride a flooding current upstream from the coastal launching area at the mouth.
- The Albion paddles best with about 3.5′ of water in it. (Less water than that and mudflats line the banks.) Don’t leave too early, and avoid launching after a minus tide.
- Remember that ebbing currents get going approximately 2 hours AFTER high tide. If you want to ride in on a flood, have lunch, and then ride the ebb back, look for a 5′ or better high tide that crests at about 10:00 to 10:30 AM.
Here’s the sign at the Albion Campground and Marina office:
The current parking/kayak launching fee is $5.00 per adult. There is another campground a little further upstream along the northern bank, Schooner Landing.
Map of today’s trip: