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TRAIL GUIDE by larry rice


The Baby Grand A beginner paddler’s nirvana.


WHEN MOST PADDLERS think of the Colorado River in Arizona, visions of Grand Canyon-esque rapids and mile-deep chasms come to mind. But just downstream of the Grand is another remarkable canyon within easy driving distance of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson. Straddling the border between Needles, Calif., and Lake Havasu City, Ariz., Topock Gorge is the crown jewel of the 37,515-acre Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, the last remaining untouched natural portion of the lower Colorado River before it reaches the Gulf of California. Affectionately known as the “Baby


Grand,” this 17-mile redrock cleft of sheer volcanic walls, secluded sand beaches and wildlife-filled marshes is a beginner paddler’s nirvana, one of the best T-shirt-and-Tevas escapes you’ll find in the dead of winter.


START HERE: Begin your trip by launching at the full-service Moabi Regional Park (home to Pirate Cove Resort and Marina) in Needles, Calif., just upstream of the Interstate 40 bridge. The campground is located among a grove of cottonwoods and willows, providing a great base from which to start. Camp here before start- ing your journey; reserve a site for $20.


44 S COUTING ¿ MARCH•APRIL 2014


TRIP LENGTH: Travel 17 to 21 miles, taking one to two days. Novice pad- dlers can exit the river at the Castle Rock access area at river mile 220 (in Arizona); or continue 4 miles through the northern end of Lake Havasu to


EXPLORE MORE TRAILS using the adventure guides featured at scoutingmagazine.org/trailguide.


JOE LYON


STEVE SANFORD


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