Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lake Natoma recreation


Lake Natoma, in Sacramento, is a premier human powered boating recreation lake.  All forms of paddle, peddle, sculling, and sailing boats are welcome.  The lake is 4.7 miles in length with a bike trail on both sides.  Many triathletes and open water swimming competitors use the lake for their workouts.  The Cal State Sacramento Aquatics Center maintains a perfectly straight 2000 meter buoy line just east of Nimbus Dam. 
Since I wasn’t renting, I put my kayak in at the ramp in Nimbus Flat (off Hazel Ave.) across the cove from the aquatic center.  I decided to go for the bird watching tour, so I paddled directly out of the cove, across the lake and under the bike trail on the north side of the lake.  You paddle under the bike trail through a huge metal pipe that leads into a series of channels that are lush with vegetation and wildlife.
The channels aren’t a bird sanctuary, but they should be.  There are hundreds of coots, ducks, and geese floating lazily in these backwaters.  The silence of the boat allows close up views of birds, frogs and turtles.  Early morning is best, but I visited this time at noon and was happy to see all the birds and only one other person. 
Once you return through the tunnel and out on the lake, you have plenty of room to get a workout in.  You can rent boats and/or take classes for windsurfing, sailing, stand up paddle boating, kayaking, canoeing, etc. at the Cal State Sacramento Aquatics Center.  Lake Natoma is the place to get on the water during the winter months to escape that Tahoe-Truckee cold weather.
Directions:
Nimbus Flat State Park:  From South Shore take Hwy.50 to Hazel Ave. East.  The entrance is immediately on your right.  This park has a self-pay station.  You may prefer to drop your boat at the ramp and park your car at the free park and ride lot, a distance of 150 yards.
Negro Bar Entrance:  This entrance is off Greenback Lane, just North of Auburn-Folsom Road.  There is no freebie parking here.
If you want to paddle under the bike trail, the entrance is:  N38 38.341  W121 12.479
Cal State Aquatic Center

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