Touted as a paradise of nature lovers, Oregon is known for its snow-capped mountains, pristine forests and glorious coastline. Kayaking is the perfect way to enjoy all that the Beaver State has to offer, and Portland is home to some of the best kayaking places in the United States. Whether you want to paddle peacefully down a meandering river or want to participate in an adrenaline-pumping white-water ride, Portland has something for everyone. Check out these 14 places that you want to paddle in Portland, Oregon.
Clackamette Park & Cove
Portland offers a wide range of kayaking destinations and the Clackamette Park & Cove is situated at the meeting point of the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers. It has different types of rapids, making the place enticing for both beginners in paddling and expert kayaking enthusiasts. However, this is why you will find many other paddlers around most of the time. The river’s northern part is somewhat tedious for paddling. From Portland, you will need close to 1.5 hours to reach the spot.
Smith and Bybee Wetlands Area
Had you thought you will have to get away from downtown Portland to find a worthy kayaking destination? You are mistaken as it is possible to indulge in paddling right near the Portland International Airport. The wetland remains hidden by the massive and tall industrial buildings and terminals. The serene location near the Columbia River Gorge and wildlife viewing opportunities are aplenty. Parking and restrooms are there. You will see species like river otters, bald eagles, black-tailed deer, Western painted turtles and ospreys. The water level does not remain the same and this is something you need to check.
The magnificent beauty and enticing wildlife at Scappoose Bay will soothe your eyes and mind after a tiring week. The boat traffic here is less than what you get in many kayaking destinations around Portland and good kayak rental agencies are present too. You will need to cover 30 minutes by road driving to reach this location.
Located in the pretty Mount Hood National Forest at the east of Portland, Lost Lake is a great kayaking destination. Paddlers of all levels can explore the lake and they will not be disappointed. If you love bird watching, along with kayaking, take your camera long. At the Lost Lake Resort, there are options for renting boats. No motor boats are allowed to operate on the lake, which means reduced crowd and noise.
Henry Hagg Lake
Not everyone who likes kayaking is fond of ocean water paddling or experiencing turbulence in river current. They prefer calm, artificial water body for paddling. For this lot, Henry Hagg Lake is just right. It is only 25 miles from downtown Portland. The lake is eyed by angling and paddling lovers, all over the year. The water is calm, making it ideal for beginners in kayaking or the kids. There are 2 boat ramps and fishing docks at the park. You can make use of any of the several easy access points. The shoreline is ideal for spotting wildlife species.
Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens State Park is another ideal kayaking destination and it is about 90 miles away from downtown Portland. Made in the 1800s it was meant to be used as a military setup. The park is replete with an amazingly beautiful coastline and the ecosystem is superb, too. Apart from paddling, there are scopes for water sports like fishing and swimming. You will get to witness diverse wildlife species including ducks of varying types and bald eagles while paddling.
Do you like the idea of kayaking on a mountainside and serene lake? If yes, then Trillium Lake is a good destination. It is 60 miles from Portland, approx. As you paddle in the calm water of the lake, you can see the reflection of Mt Hood. There are a few rivers nearby to explore as well. You can also indulge in angling, while paddling in the lake. Kayak rentals are also available near the lake shore. Choose weekdays and early morning to evade the crowd.
One common complaint from many paddling lovers about kayaking destinations near Portland is most lakes and rivers are crowded and noisy. If you are willing to drive a little more away from Portland, there is a wonderful quiet kayaking destination. This is Clear Lake, preferred by people who love paddling amidst quietness. The lake is quite easy to navigate and beginners in paddling can’t go wrong with it. There are camping sites on the shoreline and you will like the clear water. The lake is not very big and you get 142 acres to explore. The lake is also ideal for angling lovers.
Columbia Slough Watershed
If enjoying paddling without strong currents and witnessing amazing wildlife at the same time is what you want, this is your best bet. The Columbia Slough Watershed runs parallel to Columbian river. Along the 20-mile stretch, you will spot species like otters, painted turtles and plenty of birds. Start from the Kelly Point Park for the best experience.
Not every paddling lover is fond of exploring calm waters. If you are a veteran paddler and love tackling current and rapids while paddling, opt for the majestic Chetco River. The powerful river system attracts paddling lovers and anglers alike and it is replete with fish like salmon and steelhead runs. The scenery is stunning with towering cliffs and vast mountains. Wildlife species like bald eagles, osprey and otters abound in the region. There are Class III and IV rapids and so it is not ideal for beginners in paddling. Permits are required to enjoy boating here.
The Tualatin River is not far from downtown Portland. The lower 40 miles of this river can be used for kayaking. The current in summer months can hardly be felt. This time is perfect for beginners or young kayakers. The river offers relief from the chaos and noise of Portland city life. As you paddle through the river, the landscape will keep changing. You will see farmlands and wilderness. The places like Jurgens Park and Browns Ferry Park are ideal for beginning paddling.
Are you the kind of person who loves to indulge in kayaking for extended hours? If the answer is yes, head straight to The Willamette River. You get a 185-mile long trail to explore at a leisurely pace. The wildlife and scenic beauty is amazing and beginners in paddling will like the experience. It takes around 1 hour from Portland to reach the place. The route runs through serene and pretty parks and other greenways. The river is also a haven for angling-loving paddlers.
If you are new to kayaking and want a safe area to try near Portland, nothing gets better than the Clackamas River. It is an hour’s journey from the city. The river has a 80-mile stretch and ends at the Willamette River. The rapids you get in the river are mild. Its northern part has a few harder to tame rapids, making them perfect for veteran kayaking lovers.
Looking for a kayaking destination not far from Portland? Then Timothy Lake will be just right for you. The landscape is very pretty and you get calm water here. In summer, the crowd is more and in fall the scene is quite the opposite. There are enough options for fishing and hiking too.