Elkhorn Slough Kayaking

GPS Track for this Route

Elkhorn Slough is a favorite location amongst novice and intermediate kayakers.  The water is protected from ocean swells, and there are few waves.  Additionally, the proximity of 2 kayak rental outfits, and a road at one end of the slough make it very easy for people who don’t have their own kayaks to have a great adventure.  If you are going to Elkhorn Slough, there are two locations that you can put in.  The main location for a put in is just south of Moss Landing on Highway 1 (just North of the Power Plant).  If you own your own kayak, you can just use the boat ramp (paid parking).  Alternatively, you can rent boats from either Kayak Connection or Monterey Bay Kayaks, and use their parking for free.  The other location for parking is at Kirby Park.  To get there, go just south of the Power Plant (on HWY 1).  Turn inland (East) on Dolan Road.  Continue down Dolan Road for 3.5 miles, and turn left on Elkhorn Road.  Continue down the curvy Elkhorn road for another 3.5 miles.  You will see a large parking lot on your left.  This is the put-in.  There is a port-a-potty, no other facilities or water.  In the map, you can see two of the routes that we have explored.


Elkhorn Slough is popular for wildlife viewing because it is sheltered from wind and waves. The water generally makes for some easy paddling, however there can be strong currents. Depending on the tidal conditions, you may not be able to make forward progress.

Elkhorn Slough Labyrinth

If the tide is high enough, you can paddle your kayak through the labyrinth. Check your tide tables.

The wide part of the slough is moderately interesting, but the little waterways can be much more fun.  It can be very difficult to find your way through the Labyrinths (also called Rubis Creek on some maps).  For reference, the Labyrinth is the right most loop traced on the map above.  Another popular route is from the Moss Landing put-in all the way to Kirby Park.  Round Trip, this is 9 miles (minimum).  You could also go as far as the Train Trestle, which ends up being a minimum of 13 miles round trip.  Remember that you are only allowed to get out of your boat at the put-in sites.  All of the estuary is protected – which means staying in your boat, and staying away from wildlife (especially marine mammals).  It is important to pay attention to the tides in this location.  If the tide is too low, you may not be able to enter the Labyrinth.  Worse still, you may get stuck in it!  Keep the tidal information in mind when you are planning your trip.  Feel free to use the tide predictor above.  Tides may vary from the predictions above due to other weather conditions that are not possible to take into account.  Check your weather first!

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1 Response

  1. Hops says:

    Finally, a BTDT for me.