The river Salaca description

The river Salaca is situated in North part of Latvia. Salaca source is in east end of the lake Burtnieks and estuary in sea near township Salacgriva. Total length of the river is 95 km, in full length it is suitable for canoeing all season.
If you want to plan longer trip, you can start in Naukseni or Rujiena and go down the river Ruja. Distance from Naukseni to lake Burtnieks is 39 km. The river Ruja estuary is 4 km from the river Salaca source. This distance you can cover in lake Burtnieks. In highest water level it is possible to use for canoeing other rivers wich flow into lake Burtnieks – Briede and Seda.
Most popular is canoe trip from Mazsalaca to Salacgriva. First 10 km from lake Burtnieks to Mazsalaca river flows straight through the meadows. There are lots of sweet grass in the river in this section. Few km from Mazsalaca the river starts to menardre and river banks stays higher and steeper.

Technical data

Length of the river: 95 km

Basin: 3420 km2

Tributaries: 223

Average carrying capacity of water in Lagaste, 15,2 km from estuary in sea:

  • – Average in year: 31.3 m3/s
  • – January: 25.1 m3/s
  • – April: 65.8 m3/s
  • – July: 12.4 m3/s
  • – October: 29.7 m3/s

Total drop: 42 m

Average drop: 0.44 m/km


On the river is one dismounted damb in Staicele near former paper factory.
Salaca is salmon river.

           The river Salaca discription from Vecate to Salacgrīva.


The river Salaca near lake Burtnieks in Vecate.


Put in point in near the bridge in Vecate.

Township Mazsalaca.


Put in point in Mazsalaca.

Mazsalaca is one of the Northern towns in Latvia, important as a tourism and culture tradition center, with Latvian environment, unique, interesting landscapes and unique wooden buildings – specific for small towns in North Vidzeme. It is located in Valmiera region, in northern part of Vidzeme, 20km from Estonian border, 44km from Valmiera and 142km from Riga.
The first written information about Mazsalaca as a residential place is from 1528 related to consolidation of German noblemen properties. In the middle of 19th century Baron A. Fitinghof, the owner of Waltenberg manor wanted to create heavy inhabited place on his land, therefore he selected a place where 5 roads intersected. Since ancient times there were Ferry-boat pub (Rīgas street 17), which was located near the ferry across the river Salaca and Church pub (Rīgas street 1). In 1861 the chemists’s shop and the parish house (Rīgas street 4) were built here. In 1864 the textile factory was built. Slowly the Mazsalaca town began to develop. The town received the town rights in 1928.
Mazsalaca region is widely known as tourist place since 20th century 30’s. The main treasure of Mazsalaca is the beauty of nature. People come here by cars, buses and by boats. From 1937 to 1944 and 1977 to 1996 it was possible to get there by train.
The splendor of Mazsalaca can be related to the river Salaca that takes away the most part of Northern Latvia waters to the sea. The river has many turns and after each kilometre some smaller or bigger river or stream flows in it, and at the steep shores beautiful red sandstone cliffs and caves can be seen.



In Mazsalaca.


Mazsalacas skola
“Valetnbergu estate”

On the right side you will see the former “Valtenbergu estate” built in 1780. . Near the estate is a big park and next to the park the walking path “Kurbada taka” with wooden sculptures made my wood carvers from Riga.

“Bezdelīgu” rocks [From Mazsalaca 1.6 km]
The wonderful rock is 11 metres high and reaches a length of 120 metres. Unfortunately the bottom is only accessible from the river.



“Vilkaču” pine [From Mazsalaca 2.1. km]
That is a very interesting pine tree with opens roots. As you can imagine, legends over legends exist about this tree.


,,Bezdelīgu,, rocks.



“Enģeļu” cave [From Mazsalaca 2.9. km].




“Neļķu” rocks [From Mazsalaca 3.9 km]
This is a pretty nice place. The rocks are 30 metres high and 300 metres long.
At the rockbase there is spring named “skabuma balla”. Everybody believes that the water from this spring is very healthy and tasty.
Higher in the rocks there is the cave “Velna ala” (devil’s cave). This is an old cult place for people who used to live there a long time ago. Therefore there are different legends about these places. The cave Velna is 16 metres deep and has a volume of more than 50 m3.




“Skaņaiskalns” [From Mazsalaca 4.8. km].


This is a 19 m high and 60 m long sandstone rock in the left river bank. The rock is lightly parabolic and therefore there are interesting sound effects. For example, everyone can hear for long distance (200 – 300 m) your intime conversation, if you sit in right place in the river bank. It is a popular destination for tourists but be informed that driving by car to the nature territory is limited.




“Dauģēnu” rocks [From Mazsalaca 8.2. km].


The “Dauģēnu” Rocks are 15 m high and 100 m long.


In the middle part of the rock there is a inner cave. The cave isn’t opened for big groups. We recommend to explore this cave.


The total length of the labyrinths is nearly 300 m.



The Dauģenu cave after landslide 2018.

Next the rocks in the right side is wild-camping and it is reachable by car.


Pedestrians bridge in village Viķi [From Mazsalaca 31.3 km].
Local people use those suspension bridges, sometimes you must check are they safe for use.



Township “Staicele” [From Mazsalaca 40.5. km].



Comunists time propoganda in former paper factory.



Dismounted damb near former paper factory in Staicele.

There are 3 bridges in the Staicele township teritory. The first one is a pedestrians bridge near the old paper factory (founded 1898) dam. If you would like to finish your trip there we recommend the take-out place on the right side a little bit up the bridge. Staicele centre will be 1 km from here to the right side. If you continue you can walk around the dam on the left river bank. Next bridge is the traffic road bridge but the distance to the city centre is higher. The third and last one is again a walkers bridge. On the right side you will see a public park. In Staicele you will find several shops and public transportation connections. The city symbol of Staicele is the white stork. The legend says that there live one storck which was like a king for all the other storcks.



The river Salaca  near Staicele .


Camping and hotel near the river Salaca in Staicele.

The following part of the river Salaca from Staicele to Salacgriva is spectacular with many sandstone rocks in the river and some fast stream sections, however these rapids are not dangerous for canoeing but on low water level you would have to manevers your canoe around the stones


The river Salaca in stage township Staicele – township Rozēni








Village “Mērnieki” [From Mazalaca 62.7 km].


Now the drop on the river Salaca becomes 1m to 1 km that means that you can expect some smooth rapids in the river.


“Sarkanās klintis” (red rocks) [From Mazsalaca 64.9 km].


Bridge short before Sarkanās klintis.





















Now you are entering the most beautiful Salaca part. You will see a rock in the left bank with a length of 400 m after the railway bridge. On the right side is a tourist camp. This is a very popular place for fishing. Headding towards there will be serveral sandstone rocks and the stream changes from slow to quick and back to slow.


The river Salaca in stage “Sarkanas klintis” – township Salacgriva.








Township “Salacgrīva” [From Mazsalaca 82.8 km]
There you will see the two last traffic road bridges. The first one is 3 km away from the city centre of Salcgriva. Sometimes you can finish your trip there because on the last 3 km the wind is very strong and you can miss 5 to 6 weirs for catching the lameries.
If you would like to finish close to the city centre you can do that a little bit further on the right side, where a pier was built.