If you’re looking for a short but fun packed section of the Truckee River to paddle or float, I have a great suggestion. Check out the stretch between the confluence with Donner Creek and the East River Pedestrian Bridge. It’s more fun and challenging than the booze cruise that starts at Tahoe City, it’s a little easier than the stretch from the Truckee Regional Park to Glenshire, and it goes right through downtown Truckee!
One of the best things about this stretch of the Truckee River is that the logistics are easy, making it great for a weeknight or after work paddle. From our house, Greyson and I can do the whole thing door-to-door in under 2 hours without rushing. We do this as a self shuttle (there are definitely no commercial crews running this short but sweet segment). We drop one car off at the gravel parking area near the pedestrian bridge at the end of East River Street in Truckee. Click here for a map of the location. Then we drive the car with our rafts and gear to the put in spot at the confluence of Donner Creek and the Truckee River, which is just a little east of the Donner Creek Mobile Home Park. There’s street parking near the confluence here.
The entire stretch is super fun – we always take our Kokopelli Nirvana packrafts on it, but you’ll definitely see people doing it on gas station floaties. For us, it’s been a great way to learn to paddle in features that are challenging, but aren’t super high consequence. The rating for this segment is Class I/Class II, but, like I said, plenty of people do it on innertubes. The stretch is just over 2 miles, and takes us around 30-35 minutes, which includes at least one stop to re-inflate our rafts when they get low.
Another really nice thing about this route is that the take out point is super obvious and easy to manage. You’ll see the pedestrian bridge a good ¼ mile away, and when you get to the beach, you can easily paddle to the left bank and hop out. Even if you end up on the wrong side, it’s shallow enough that you can cross right there. There will most likely be toddlers wading there, even.
From there, it’s just a short walk back uphill to your car! While this Truckee River stretch is great for beginners, it can get pretty boney in the late summer/early fall, so be sure to check the flows. We like this Dreamflows Site, and we’ve had good luck when the flow is between 200-400. Have fun, and let me know if you like it!