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The Volcanic Vents of Soda Bay

A fascinating 6-9 mile loop around the bubbling Soda Bay Baths, down Kelsey Creek and through the tule wetlands.
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  A fascinating trip exploring the Clear Lake shoreline, around the infamous Soda Bay hot springs, looping back along Dorn Bay, and a... more »

Tips:  This route may be taken year-round. Note that in late summer and fall, intense sun, low water levels, and patches of algae and... more »

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Points of Interest

To access the trail, park and launch from the boat ramp located within Clear Lake State Park (nominal day-use fee required). Hugely popular, Clear Lake State Park was established in the 1940s with a gift of 300 acres from Fred and Nellie Dorn. Today, the park has grown to span 11,600 feet of shoreline.

From the ramp, head to the mouth of Cole... More

2. Soda Bay

Turn east and head toward Mount Konocti, a dormant multi-peaked volcano towering above Clear Lake. As you paddle, the water opens up; you are entering Soda Bay.

According to Pomo legend, a beautiful maiden living on Mount Konocti created Soda Bay with tears shed over the deaths of her feuding father and lover. Geologists believe Soda Bay was... More

3. Soda Bay Bath Springs

Head directly across the bay, and two small islands come into view - you are at the Soda Bath Springs. Cement walls are all that is left of the Soda Bay resort once connected to the baths via a walkway; both were destroyed by fire in 1940. But during the early 1900s, health-seekers
were drawn to local hot springs resorts, which promised to cure... More

4. Dorn Bay and Picnic Rocks

Turn south, heading past several small lakefront resorts and the Clearlake Queen, a large paddlewheel boat that once offered tours around the lake. Follow the shoreline back toward the park and you will pass through Dorn Bay and the State Park swim beach area.

Many years ago, this area was inhabited by thousands of Native Americans living... More

5. Kelsey Creek and the Clear Lake Hitch

Continue past Cole Creek along the tule reeds — be on the lookout for a pair of resident osprey that can be seen catching fish.

Turn in to Kelsey Creek, one of the main tributaries of the Big Valley watershed. Kelsey Creek is also important as one of the few spawning runs for Lake County’s own indigenous fish species, the Clear Lake hitch. Once... More

6. Kelsey Creek Bridge

During the winter and spring months of high water levels, it is possible to paddle up to the Kelsey bridge. During low-water months, the water becomes shallow and stagnant, and paddlers are forced to turn back.

7. Quercus Point

For an additional 3-mile round-trip paddle, head west hugging the shoreline up to Quercus Point. The marshy tule reeds provide nesting areas for Clark’s and Western Grebes, while treetops are great perches for numerous cormorants.

Otherwise retrace your steps back to the Boat Ramp.