I took this trip with my husband, brother-in-law and two teenage sons. We are all novices and for two of them, this was their first river experience. We ventured out in an Old Town 14' canoe, a Swifty 9.5 and a Coleman Rebel 9.8.
We put in at Carl A. Rahe access point off of Old 3C Highway and ended at Lake Isabella. This was an 8 mile trip.
The first 5 miles are slow paddling with a few swift spots. One area to watch for is shortly after launch where there is a fast right to left current. If you're not ready for it, you will end up either on the bank or caught up in strainers.
There are several areas to stop off and enjoy the water with sandy banks. Also, some good areas of fishing according to my husband. One of the highlights is the Loveland Castle. You can pull off and walk up the bank to the castle (fee to enter - I believe $3.00) There are picnic tables if you packed a lunch.
This first area is also pretty busy as it is the main route for Loveland Canoe and Kayak rentals.
Once you pass the livery you are pretty much on your own and lose most of the other paddlers. This next section has more areas of small rapids/riffles. However, on a hot dry day without recent rain (today), the river is VERY SHALLOW. We had to walk our boats through at least 3 different spots and hit many rocks. The kayaks made it through much easier, while our canoe bottom took quite a beating (3 passengers).
All in all, a very nice trip with lots of wild life to see along the way. Today we saw multiple turtles, blue heron, deer and many jumping fish. We want to re-run the last 3 miles when the river is a little higher. This should make for some fun novice boating!
Another tip - pack a picnic lunch to have at your let out point at Lake Isabella to end your day.
Carl A. Rahe - picnic shelter. No bathrooms. Free parking.
Lake Isabella - Hamilton County Park with shelters, boat house, bathrooms, etc...
$3 daily fee for park permit at Lake Isabella or $10 for the year. This is good at all Hamilton County Parks
Lake Isabella is off of 275 - Loveland exit. Follow signs to the park off of the highway. Once inside, stay on the main road and you will see a small road on the left noting canoe access and parking.
To Carl A. Rahe - Off of 275 - Montgomery Rd. Exit and head north about 6 miles. Old 3C Highway will be on the right. The access point will also be on the Right and is marked with a road side sign.