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Plum Graham, 7 year-old fresh out of the LA river."

Courtesy Photo

Plum Graham, 7 year-old fresh out of the LA river."


Kayaking the LA River

Wilderness Scenes in the City


For anyone looking for a little wilderness-style adventure this weekend— without leaving Los Angeles—notch your first kayak descent of the mighty Los Angeles River. The Frogtown run (that’s “Elysian Valley” to you realtors and politicians) is open, from the Fletcher St bridge to the end of the soft-bottomed section where the 110, 5, and Figueroa St. all cross over, about two miles. Drag your boat down the concrete bank (watch for broken glass and condoms, honestly) and put in. It starts with a nice calm lake that you could float on all afternoon, but point yourself through that hissing gap in the arundo grass and bounce down a rocky class 2 chute into the weirdest wet rabbit hole this side of Waterworld. Never mind the roar of I-5, or the graffiti, trash, power lines and Metrolink trains banging by, never mind the fact that you’re floating on treated sewage (er, secondary-reclaimed effluent), just dig the 60-foot sycamores and willows, the night herons and diving grebes, the geese and coyotes, and the complete solitude (that’s the weirdest part). This could be Montana…except it isn’t. Slow, deep pools alternate with boneyards—getting out and dragging the boat over rocks is part of the fun. There are 2-3 more exciting, narrow chutes, and at least one wrong (left) line into a fast concrete slot with strainers that could be hazardous. (My 7-year daughter had the good sense to suggest we drag back out of that one.) Kid-friendly, if your kids are ok with this sort of thing.

You can rent kayaks, with guides. There are a few options, here are a couple: lariverrecreation.org or lariverexpeditions.org There is wild nature in LA! It’s just…slightly smelly.

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