Spotted on Sunday – The Mapp Family Goes Kayaking


On the eve of autumn, and grayer Bay Area skies, my kids and I decided to head out to Lake Merritt in Oakland, California to paddle around its famous Wildlife sanctuary.

According the Oakland Park and Rec website, Lake Merritt originally resided as a wide, tidal estuary (salt water marsh) that was known as the Laguna Peralta. So this “lake” actually formed where several creeks empty into the San Francisco Bay. Back when the Ohlone Indians (the area’s original inhabitants) fished, hunted, and gathered food along its shores, it was surrounded by 1,000 acres of wetlands. The area has remained since a sanctuary and stop-over for thousands of migratory birds.

Today my family came equipped with binoculars, a bird guide, and lots of energy to move our kayaks around almost the entire 3-mile perimeter. We were rewarded immediately with stunning views of wildlife – a highlight was spotting a pair of elegant California Least Turns flying against a green Oakland hillside in the distance.

Jack Wolf

In 1915 organized feedings of the wildlife began at Lake Merritt, and it is every Oaklander’s childhood memory to have gone to “feed the ducks” with bags of day old bread scraps.  Today, you can purchase the sustainable option of birdseed in the ecology center to share with the variety of hungry birds along the shore, such as egrets, herons, Canada goose, and many other species of water fowl.

After getting our $20 deposit back, the total cost of our mid-day excursion was an affordable $24 for both kayaks for the hour. Compare this to the cost of a trip to the movies in exchange for priceless memories. My youngest said over and over while sitting behind me in the kayak, “this is so relaxing and fun Momma,” — he could not have spoken a more perfect truth.

Want to rent a sailboat, kayak, or paddle boat at Lake Merrit? Click Here

View the rest of our pictures!

Where do you like to go kayaking? What is your childhood memory of interacting with wildlife?


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