Portland Or. paddling

Considering a new job offer in NE Portland PDX area. My 5 years of paddling has been pretty much in and around Rhode Islands Naragannsett Bay. Plenty of coves with sandy bottoms to practice skills or do some small wave surfin etc. Like a lot of P Netters I like to go right after work for a couple hours during the “good months”

I spent 3 days doing the interview in Portland but did not have a chance to visit any local kayak shops. Ive read alot about the Oregon coast, but that is for the weekends. Whats the deal with local lakes and the rivers for after work. Any info is much appreciated.

Paddlin’ in Portland
Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe in Portland might be a source of information. I’ve never been there, but I have heard they can be quite helpful.


Columbia River is open, with plenty of launch points, reasonably warm fresh water, and lots of camping options for overnights. I did it as part of a 2 week trip from Bonneville Dam to the Ocean.

Alder Creek definitely would be a good resource. I suspect Flatpick will chime in here he used to be connected with Alder Creek. Here are some other resources I found:


I think you’ll find the season to be quite a bit longer in OR as it is out East…

Check out

– Last Updated: Feb-03-08 12:20 PM EST –

http://www.oopskayak.org/ . That's the local paddling club around these parts. It took me a few years to join, though, since I'm always out by myself exploring and work odd hours, but I'm glad I did. What a great bunch of folks!! There are lots of places to paddle. The coast is an hour away, Puget Sound is two hours. You have many mountain lakes and of course you have the Mighty Columbia and the Willamette River, as well. There are a huge number of cool clubs in Puget Sound that have really good info online, about their crazy paddling adventures. Google 'em, they'll come up.

Check out http://www.columbiawatertrail.org/ . This site will give you a lot of launch and camping locations on line. Strongly recommend the books Canoe and Kayak Routes of NW OR and SW WA by Phil Jones and The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail by Keith G. Hay. The first gives you specific trip routes etc, the second gives you great history w/launch and camping places. Both compliment each other. There are way too many places to list for cool paddles before and after work. I hang out in a certain county, just outside the city, were there's not much boating traffic, but lots of wildlife.
If you're talking "good months", as you stated, do you mean summer? There aren't really bad months here. The water temp ranges from 36 (right now) to around 79 (summer). The water levels vary a lot, too, late summer being the shallowest. You -will- have to deal with a lot of boating traffic. Rec, ski and sailing boats abound, no matter what time of week. That's why I like the nice, quiet, cold winter. Deep drafts are always transitting up and down the river, all year 'round. You'll get within 20ft of them most times, as the narrow traffic channel they are in is only so forgiving. It's pretty cool. Any more questions, fire away. Welcome to the PNW...where we kayak ALL year round!

And check out Peter's blog, it's a good one. **Waving a hand at ya Peter, great to meet you guys last year** :)

Oregon paddling
Willamette riverkeepers web site would be great

place to search for paddling info and paddle trips in PDX and the willamette valley.and meet

some great people in the area.


what they said.

no paddlin’ seasons here, it’s happen’ all the time. drysuits are nice.

yahoo group pdxseakayaker is chuck full of paddlers looking for trips/tours.

tons of great paddling ops in a wet environ.

aldercreek.com works too. great folks and great shop. i co-founded it in '86.


As mentioned, there are good shops (Alder Creek is just one), organized groups, and places and variety to paddle.

For groups, OOPS is one; the Willamette Riverkeepers is not a paddling group, but is well worth being involved with (an advocacy group for clean water). There is a flatwater racing club, PKCT (Portland Kayak and Canoe team) that has racing kayaks for club use. There are several list serve groups, the biggest being pdxseakayaker; under development is NWPP (Northwest Performance Paddlers) which is a group of sea kayakers, sprint kayakers, and surf skiers who have various goals for fitness and competition.

The Willamette River that runs through town is accessable at many points- the head of Willamette Riverkeepers often commutes by solo canoe during the summer (winter, the current is way too strong for casual upstream travel). Great to get out before work and work out, or nature watch (herons, osprey, otters, beaver, etc, etc) along Ross Island, all downtown!

Many local rivers for whitewater that run all year; lakes galore in the Cascade Mountains.

The coast has many lovely inlets, bays,and estuaries for pretty paddling and more nature viewing, although the ebb currents can be vicious.

The outer coast itself is experts terrain. While there are days the Pacific is like a pond, sudden changes happen, and more often than not, 6ft surf is a small day in summer. That said, the rocks, arches, and tree lined cliffs provide some of the most dramatic scenery I have seen anywhere.

The Columbia River is great for day or multi day journeys, and has many beautiful spots. If it wasn’t for the highway and the RR tracks, the Columbia River Gorge could have been one of the great scenic national parks (IMO). Keep in mind that parts of the Gorge are world famous within wind surfing circles; skilled kayakers take advantage of this big wind for thrilling downwind surfing journeys.

And keep in mind the relatively short drive time to the San Juans, or British Columbia for world class multi day trips.

If you get a chance, watch the Pacific Horizons DVD to get an idea of what we have out here.


PS, while the pools can be full of boats for rolling practice during winter, we really can paddle all year.

One and all for the info. I checked out OOPS…looks great. Very encouraged by the thoughtful and informitive responses. Much appreciated. By the “good months” I meant the 3 or 4 months that it is light out after 5 oclock. A lot of paddlers in New England paddle all year as well. (not me) I look forward to meeting some new paddling friends and learning more about the PNW. Hope to be in Portland for the first week of March. Have to decide whether to sell my yaks and get a new (used one) in Portland or drive out with one of them on the car.I paddle a beat Explorer and an RM Avocet.

Thanks again,


Portland Kayak Company
Have to put in a plug for my favorite Portland kayak shop: http://www.portlandrivercompany.com/

Much smaller than Alder Creek, and largely carries a different line of boats.

Good to see
Good to see the coastie contingent is still here! =8-)

PP - Let me know if you come down to SF and I can show you around.