San Rafael Canal, Marin County

San Rafael Canal, Marin County

Video by DroneHive

Vital Statistics

  • Feeds into Upper San Francisco Bay, Lower San Pablo Bay
  • Runs through Marin County’s largest city
  • Adjacent communities are some of Marin’s highest density populations
  • Contaminants remain from years of industrial use
  • US Army Corps of Engineers lacked funding to complete a 2011 dredging, leaving shallow canal with higher flood risk

San Rafael Canal

Wade In

The San Rafael Canal is both a beacon for boaters and a monkey on the back of city planners. The waterway offers beautiful views of hilly Marin County, drawing kayaks and paddlers to make their way out to the creek’s mouth. Terrapin Crossroads, owned by former Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh, sits at the water’s edge and offers a vibrant mix of music and farm-to-table dining. That’s one vision of the Canal, at least.

For many San Rafael Residents, “the Canal” can refer to the waterway itself or the eponymous neighborhood developed around its banks. The neighborhood, predominantly Latin American, is home to Marin’s highest population density and contrasts with the sprawl of single family homes scattered throughout Marin’s hills and valleys. The Canal represents a singular challenge for San Rafael. Heavily reliant on public transportation, shared vehicles, and only a few narrow corridors through which to access the County at large, this community may face isolation if the creek overtakes its banks and cuts the city in two.

Get Acquainted

Wet Feet for Rich and Poor: San Rafael 1

Madeleine King is on the water several times a week. Tanned and fit, she’ll step atop her board at 101 Surf Sports and soon disappear down the San Rafael Canal, paddling with gusto toward its mouth and the San Francisco Bay.

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Team Spirit Around Canal: San Rafael 2

An osprey atop a transmission tower watches as a few dozen people meander out to the edge of the San Rafael waterfront along a narrow levee path. On one side are the marshes and mudflats where the San Rafael creek meets the San Francisco Bay, the osprey’s hunting territory. On the other are townhomes, densely packed on a flat spit of land jutting out into the Bay.

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Top Photo: Bionic Team, Resilient by Design

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