Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kayaking Alviso Slough

  The entrance to Alviso Marina with an old beached houseboat in the background

A new set of boat ramps have been installed at the Alviso Marina which will enable kayaks and small boats to enter San Francisco Bay from San Jose for the first time in 20 years. With this convenient access point, I believer there will be many kayakers interested in paddling in Alviso Slough.  However, since there hasn't been a public access point in 20 year, not much has been written about it.

I was fortunate enough to participate in the grand opening of the new boat ramps. See my post

Grand Opening Day of Alviso Slough Boat Ramp

The slough is both wide and deep, making any kayak trips a breeze. Speaking of breeze, in spring and summer afternoons, it gets quite windy here due to the thermal drafts coming from the bay. Hot air in the central valley rises, causing cool air from the coast to be sucked in. Since most of the coast is separated by mountains, with the only opening at the Golden Gate, wind blows north to south starting at about 2 PM.

However, the wind at the boat ramp is not so bad, perhaps because the Alviso Slough is protected by tall levees.  The wind is particularly diminished at low tide where the kayak is riding several feet lower still.  The further out you go, the more you will feel the head wind.

Here are the first photos of the Alviso Slough from a kayak in probably 20 years:

The first kayaks paddling off the new Alviso Marina boat ramp on opening day

My Pathfinder getting ready to go

A Chinese dragon boat in the Alviso Slough

The slough is pretty wide at low tide and wider still at high tide

Incredibly peaceful inside of the Alviso Slough

An abandoned boat - you see a few of these around Alviso

A lot of birds in Alviso Slough, from sea gulls to endangered species

The marina boat ramp in the distance

The South Bay Yacht Club is just past the Alviso Marina boat ramp

The waterway gets a little bit narrower south of the marina

Here is the official web site of the Alviso Marina. Ignore the picture of the marina. That was taken 20 years ago.

A map of the water trail from the Alviso Marina to the bay along Alviso Slough:

View Alviso Slough kayak trail to the bay in a larger map
This map is not accurate enough for navigation use and is not intended for navigation.

Here are some additional useful links that describe the Alviso Slough Trail, which is adjacent to Alviso Slough.

The last 1/2 of this site has excellent large pictures of the Alviso Slough Trail (about 10 pictures), which follows Alviso Slough:

This site describes the Alviso Slough Trail and the history of Alviso:



  1. Is Alviso a good place to launch an inflatable? I have an Innova Safari.

  2. Prior to the new boat ramp, it was not a good place to launch any kind of kayak. There were really no public place to launch without hiking through mud at low tide. With the new ramp, I believe it will be an awesome place for all kinds of kayaks! It gets a bit windy in the afternoon. However, since it is 4 miles from the ramp to open water, you will likely spend a good portion of your trip in a levee protected channel, which may reduce wind and waves. I will start another entry with info about Grand Opening Day for the Alviso Boat Ramp (June 5th, 2010). It's a big party with food, music, kayak and boating activities.



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