Difficulty III
Length 4.3 Miles
Flow Range 400 - 1000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 20.4 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 03/20/2019 5:04 pm

River Description

An unexpectedly great little backyard run for the Bay Area dweller. Perfect beginner run or enough to satiate those more experienced river folk who only have half a day and no patience to drive. Alameda Creek is a short but swift Class II/I trip that'll take about an hour and a half with a short lunch break. 
Running it around 474cfs a day after some rain made for several fun and narrow wave trains and only two limbo-under-branch situations. The two or three diversion dams were easy spillovers with no real suction danger at this level. The first makes for a fun little Class II shoot under the 84 bridge, though the second one sneaks up on you a bit. 
Water was brisk and predictably muddy, but not smelly, as the somewhat urban environs would have you believe. Despite its proximity to the sprawl of SF/Oakland, the river offered up some nice views of the hills, with mallards, great blue herons, common and red-breasted mergansers, and a kingfisher. Poison oak was common along the banks, but it seemed easy to eddy out or find respite on the shore between patches, if need be. 
We also put in maybe 0.5-1.0 mile downstream of the put in listed here, since since it looked a bit too brushy and parking/access looked questionable. We parked on the westbound side of 84/Niles Canyon Road where several cars were parked (graffiti artists, from what I could tell, since no one else was on the river) and quickly found a reasonable but not ideal spot to launch. Take out was super easy at Nile Staging Area. Shuttling with two cars is easy, taking a Lyft/Uber would also be quick and cheap. Apparently hitching/biking on this section of road isn't the safest though. 
Paddlers can do periodic brush snipping to make passage easier.


Put-in: Finding a legal place to park to access the creek near Sunol seems to be the problem.  Most wide spots along Niles Canyon Road have "No Parking" signs. It may be legal to stop and unload as long as the driver does not get out of the car. There is public parking two miles upstream of Sunol at the Pleasant Ridge natural area. 

Take out: Niles Staging Area has 10 parking spots, one or more porta potties and a drinking fountain. From the intersection of Mission Blvd and Niles Canyon Rd travel east on Niles Canyon for 200 yards then turn right onto Old Canyon Rd.  After a quarter mile turn left into Niles Staging Area. 

There are public trails on both sides of the creek in Niles and a few other places to park and take out from the creek.


Other Information Sources:   See also the write up by Don da Roza at the California Creeks website.

Wikipedia   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alameda_Creek

Alemeda Creek Alliance:  http://www.alamedacreek.org/

East Bay Parks: Alemeda Trail:  https://www.ebparks.org/parks/trails/alameda_creek/

Sediment Proposal:  https://www.resilientbayarea.org/unlock-alameda-creek

Alemeda County Water District:  https://www.acwd.org/354/Alameda-Creek-Fish-Passage-Related-Proje

Rapid Descriptions

Railroad Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 3.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This bridge signals that a low head dam is a quarter mile downstream.

Low Head Dam

Class - N/A Mile - 3.7
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Low Head Dam

Class - II Mile - 4.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

There is a chute on river right.


Gage Descriptions

500-600 cfs is probably optimum.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




Matt Muir


Bill Tuthill


Paul Martzen


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1194219 01/27/07 n/a n/a
1197230 02/12/10 Bill Tuthill corrected URL
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