Paddle or bike the magnificent Big River estuary and discover the true untouched Mendocino

Step out of time for a day and take a gentle trip up the protected Big River estuary on board your very own outrigger canoe. Hand-crafted from redwood, these canoes are works of beauty in their own right – and are the perfect vehicle for the experienced and novice alike. Completely stable and virtually untippable, they’re perfect for canine companions (dogs and other pets are allowed), kids, and anyone who’s still a bit wary of the water.

The Big River estuary is a magical place unlike any other. Tranquil and serene, on your paddle you’ll pass sunbathing seals, resting herons, lunching river otters, and more. With more than eight miles of protected waterway to explore, this is a wonderful Mendocino activity – good for a few hours or a full day. The staff at Catch-A-Canoe are knowledgable and friendly, and are more than happy to help out with maps, wildlife guides, historical anecdotes, snacks, or anything else you might need for a full day of fun.

Catch-a-Canoe and Bicycles Too

1 South Big River Road
Mendocino, CA
707.937.0273

Throughout the year they also offer specialized tours. These include a group tour of the river on board a solar-powered motor sailboat, a late-night full moon tour of the river, a wildlife identification tour, and the once-in-a-lifetime bioluminescence tour. The bioluminescence tour is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of a trip to the Mendocino Coast. From June to October the rivers of Mendocino County are graced by tiny dinoflagellate organisms with a truly remarkable characteristic – when disturbed they let forth a brief burst of light. Paddling down the river from dusk until dark, you’ll see the bow of your craft leave a glowing wake, your paddle leave magical trails of light behind it, and fish briefly illuminated as they swim beneath you.

Catch-A-Canoe and Bicycles Too also rents bikes for a different way to see the estuary. Alongside the river runs an old logging road, now a local favorite bicycle trail. The first part of the trail is well maintained, and even once it becomes more overgrown, it is entirely navigable – all the way to the inland Mendocino Woodlands. Spurs off of the trail make for some more exciting cycling, and the friendly staff at Catch-A-Canoe can help you find a suitable trail for your level of expertise.

However you choose to see Big River, if you like soft adventure at all, this is one of the gems of the Mendocino Coast. Pack a picnic and enjoy a romantic outing with a loved one, take the whole family to marvel at the wildlife, bring your dog on a boat ride they’ll never forget, or enjoy the solitude of the river on a solo trip – there’s really no wrong way to see Big River.

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