Day 12: San Rafael Creek to Buck's Launching 8 Miles

From San Rafael north, there is a lot of wilderness space in the North Bay. Marin county has seven islands, multiple wildlife refuge and lots of green space. It's a pleasure to paddle there. In this stretch of the paddle, you'll pass by the West and East Marin Islands, which is a wildlife refuge, Point San Pedro with the Sisters Islands, McNears Beach, China Camp with Rat Rock Island, and the beautiful China Camp marshes with the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. You'll also pass by several hunting houses that are on the water, so be careful not looking like a duck in the spring.


On January 15, 2017, I paddled from 101 Surf Sports to Buck's Launching with Angel Galvan Raich and her husband Bob met us a multiple points along the stretch on his board while driving their van to the take-out. It was a little challenging at first because the wind was pushing from the northeast but as soon as we round the corner from Point San Pedro it became really placid on the bay. The weather was nice and we had a really pleasant paddle with minimal tide currents. The scenery was really enjoyable and Bob even explored some of the tidal march channels. I saw multiple birds but the best was an Osprey along the edge of the marsh.

Hazards: Your usual piers and low tide issues in the bay, nothing too extraordinary than hunters with their duck houses in the water trying to kill ducks. Don't dress like ducks.

Put-in: 101 Surf Sports is a great shop with a great community of paddlers and great gear for rental and retail. It's a mile into the San Rafael Creek. 

Take-out: Outdoor Adventures has their put-in site at Buck's Launching and is very friendly to small boaters. There are porte-potties at the site and water. Buck's Launching is at the mouth of Las Gallina's Creek (Gallina in Spanish means Chicken but the yellower, fattier and older kind of meat rather than the young, white meat or Pollo). Hence the muddy waters. I'm not sure about the history of Buck's but apparently it has been there for many years. It has closed now and the property is sold to the State Parks. Apparently there'll be a full state park area with small and big boat launch from this site.