San Joaquin River in California

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

The trip we most often take on this river is from Lost Lake Park, which is just below the Millerton dam, to a canoe landing that is just before the river goes under the bridge of Highway 41 that goes out to Yosemite. The duration of this paddle varies greatly with the amount of water that is being released from the dam, and your own enthusiasm for reaching the other end. There are a dozen or so rapids along the way. None of them are risky at all (except to the bottom of your boat from the shallow water), but they can be technically challenging. Mistakes won't endanger your life but you may end up in the brush, or having to get out of your boat to walk it back up stream. There is a great deal of wildlife on this river. We have seen everything from beaver and dear to great blue heron, and golden eagles. If you are looking for a longer paddle, the river goes on for many more miles of good, but more gentle paddling. Check water levels before planning to go on past the Highway 41 overpass though, as much of the river can be quite shallow.


There are restrooms at Lost Lake, and now pemanent restrooms by the parking lot. There are also payphones at both. There is little else besides nature in between.


There is a $4.00 fee to get into lost lake. If you really want to avoid this there are places you can put in for free up closer to the dam, but be careful going through Lost lake. It is crowded on hot days and there are several small wiers/waterfalls, fun if there is enough water, portage if there isn't.


From northbound 41 (heading towards Yosemite) take the Rio Mesa Blvd exit. At the end of the ramp make a sharp right turn. Take the first road on your left (about a mile?). It looks like you are going into Cobb Ranch. Make an immediate right and go straight through the gates ahead of you. The pull out is at the end of this road. The parking lot and restrooms are on your left as you go down the road.

The gate is ONLY open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7a.m. on. Any other day of the week you'll be stuck inside with no way out!


San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, Inc.

1550 E. Shaw Avenue Suite 114

Fresno, California 93710

Phone (559) 248-8480

FAX (559) 248-8474


Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location