String of Pearls
Stanislaus River, east of San Francisco, CA
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String of Pearls, Stanislaus River, near Oakdale, California
The Road Trip:
The driving time from the East San Fransisco Bay Area is one hour. Take I-580 East to I-205 East, and then to Hwy 120 East. The Knights Ferry turn-off is located several miles East of Oakdale. A good selection for first time river paddlers is the stretch from the Oakdale access to Riverbank (about two hour paddle and 15 minute car ferry).
The Road Trip

The Paddle Trip:
Trip Summary: The "String of Pearls" is a series of river access parks along the Stanislaus River in California. Several of the parks provide for boat-in camping. Easy paddling time between parks ranges from fifteen minutes to a couple hours. Approximately fifty miles of river below Knights Ferry are suitable for touring kayaks and open canoes. Contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Knights Ferry, CA. for more information. or e-mail

Put ins / Portages / Camping:
  • Knights Ferry - 30 yard carry, drinking water;
  • Corps of Engineers Park Headquarters, Horseshoe - 150 yard carry, no treated water, (camping by permit);
  • Honolulu Bar-100 yard carry;
  • Orange Blossom Rd.-30 yard carry, drinking water;
  • Valley Oak-300 yard carry, drinking water, (camping by permit);
  • Oakdale Ponds- Off River Road North of Oakdale on right bank-30 yard carry;
  • Riverbank -- Below the Santa Fe Bridge on right bank-30 yard carry;
  • McHenery -- North of Modesto, 1/2 mile below the McHenery Rd. Bridge, right bank, off River Rd.-30 yard carry, 20 foot steep sandy bank.
  • Drinking water and boat in camping Hwy 99 - quarter mile carry along a wide path from the 99 Bridge at Ripon to a frontage road upstream on the right bank.
  • Caswell St. park-Located South of Manteca on the right bank. Camping and drinking water. 100 yard carry

The Paddle Trip

Mapping by MapQuest
  • The above maps are not intended as a replacement for nautical charts. For
    customized maps, visit MapQuest.

Paddling time: ( all times approximate):
Knights Ferry to Horseshoe - 2 hours; Horseshoe to Honolulu Bar - 15 minutes; Honolulu Bar to Orange Blossom Rd. - 20 minutes; Orange Blossom Valley Oak - 1 1/2 hours; Valley Oak to Oakdale Ponds - 1 hour; Oakdale Ponds to Riverbank - 2 hours;Riverbank toMcHenery - 2 hours; McHenery to Hwy 99 - 2 hours; Hwy 99 to Caswell St. Park - 2 hours.

Route: A favorite weekend camping trip is to put in at Horseshoe, camp overnight at Valley Oak, pull out for lunch in Riverbank, and finish the trip there or another couple of hours downstream at McHenery.

Paddling Tips: The easier legs are below Oakdale. Best if run below 800cfs. Some standing waves above Orange Blossom. There is only one short rapid (Russian rapid) just below Knights Ferry. Unadvisable in an open boat above 500 cfs, all canoes get swamped above 800cfs. This is a blind rapid with a well-marked short portage trail river left. The trail can be paddled at 1100cfs.

Watch out for: This river has dense growth along the banks. Watch out for snags and strainers created by vegetation on the bank and trees that have fallen in the river. Just below Knights Ferry is a blind rapid. Portage trail is located river left. Avoid the channel that bypasses the left side of the largest ponding at Oakdale. It may be blocked with fallen trees. At the West end of the pond you can either run the "short chute" back into the river or portage it. There is a Railroad bridge between the McHenery Road Bridge and McHenery Park. Generally the right side openings thru this bridge are blocked with strainers. Approach with caution, keep river left.

Natural Features: This river is lined with buckeye, cottonwood, box elder, and oak trees. Underneath is a dense growth of willow, wild grape and blackberry. You may see red tail hawks, kingfishers, herons, coyote,beaver, muskrat, black bass, trout, stripped bass, carp and salmon along the way.

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