Clearlake Water Trail # 1

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This is one of the amazing water trails you can take here on Clearlake.


Trails Water WT1 – Rattlesnake Island


Length: 4 Miles Round Trip

Time: Approximately 2-3 hours

Experience Level: Intermediate through advanced

Launch Area: Clearlake Oaks Boat Launch, Island Park Drive off Hwy 20 East, Clearlake Oaks, CA 95423

Trail Highlights
– Views of Mt Konocti
– Migratory waterfowl route
– Wetlands, tule reeds
– Historic cultural resources
– Rich wildlife viewing
– Islands and canals
– Picnic spots


Trail Description:
For the naturalist and those who want to savor breathtaking beauty, this is a beautiful loop around Rattlesnake Island, past the historic Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine and wetlands, and back through the canals of “The Keys” in Clearlake Oaks.

On calm days, this is an easy paddle for all experience levels. On windy days, however, it is for experienced paddlers willing to battle heavy winds and large waves. In the summer, mornings are best since the midday sun can become intense and strong winds typically pick up in the afternoon

Trail Route:
Park and launch at the Clearlake Oaks boat ramp on Island Drive just off of East Highway 20. As you begin your paddle out toward Rattle snake Island (1), Mount Konocti dominates the background – a dormant volcano that sits at an elevation of 4,300 feet. Geologists estimate its first eruption approximately 600,000 years ago and evidence suggests the most recent volcanic activity took place within the last few thousand years.

Archaeological evidence suggests Native American activity on Rattlesnake Island dating back 8,000 years. While privately owned, this island’s significance as the ancient burial ground and village site of the Elem Pomo, prompted a recent nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Descendants of the early inhabitants live 500 feet east by Sulphur Bank.

For birdwatchers, the winter months beginning in mid-December through March, can be an unforgettable paddling experience. Migratory groups of cormorants, grebes, gulls, coots, buffleheads, egrets, herons, and ducks are just a few of the waterfowl seen dotting the water, at times numbering in the tens of thousands. And it’s not unusual for lucky paddlers to see a ribbon display of several hundred American White Pelicans slowly soaring overhead. But the summer still holds many resident waterfowl, including osprey typically perched on bare tree trunks. Families of otter and the occasional mink often play along the shoreline, as do the island’s resident goats and peacocks.