Local Kayak Spots Portland, Oregon

Local Kayak Spots Portland, Or

Are you a kayaker dreaming of exploring the beautiful waterways of Portland, Oregon? Look no further. This city is a kayaker’s paradise, with its river running through the heart of the city and an abundance of navigable rivers and mountain lakes just a short drive away. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s a new spot waiting for you to discover.

But before you embark on your kayaking adventure, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with some basic safety rules and guidelines. Always remember to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) to ensure your safety on the water. Additionally, choose a spot that matches your skill level to make the most out of your paddling experience.

In this article, we will take you on a journey through some of the best local kayak spots in Portland, Oregon. From the tranquil river to the exhilarating rapids, we’ll explore the hidden gems of Portland’s waterways. So grab your paddle and let’s dive in!

Columbia Slough Watershed

The Columbia Slough Watershed is a hidden gem for kayakers in the Portland, Oregon area. This 19-mile-long channel runs parallel to the Columbia River and offers a variety of navigable waterways to explore. With its numerous launch points, natural areas, and diverse wildlife, it is a paddler’s paradise.

Natural Beauty and Launch Points

One of the highlights of the Columbia Slough Watershed is the abundance of launch points that provide easy access to the water. Whether you prefer to start your kayaking adventure from Big Four Corners, where you can paddle through cottonwood trees and reach Fairview Lake, or explore the tranquil Smith and Bybee Wetlands, there is a launch point for every paddler.

Map and Paddling Guide

To make the most of your kayaking experience in the Columbia Slough Watershed, be sure to grab a detailed map and paddling guide. These resources will help you navigate the waterways, discover hidden channels, and ensure you don’t miss any must-see spots along the way. The map and guide provide valuable information on the best routes and points of interest, making your adventure even more enjoyable.

Launch Point Features
Big Four Corners Cottonwood trees, access to Fairview Lake
Smith and Bybee Wetlands Secluded kayaking experience

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced kayaker, the Columbia Slough Watershed offers endless opportunities for exploration. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this unique area, discover new waterways, and create unforgettable memories on your next kayaking adventure.

Henry Hagg Lake

Located 25 miles west of Portland, Henry Hagg Lake is a popular destination for boaters, including kayakers. This picturesque manmade lake offers a designated no-wake area specifically for kayakers, ensuring a peaceful and enjoyable paddling experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, Henry Hagg Lake has something to offer for everyone.

Aside from kayaking, visitors can also take advantage of the 13 miles of trails surrounding the lake, perfect for hiking or biking. There is a picnic area available for those who want to relax and enjoy a meal amidst the beautiful scenery. Fishing is another popular activity at Henry Hagg Lake, with the opportunity to catch a variety of fish species.

For easy access to the water, there are two boat launches conveniently located on the lake. Whether you bring your own kayak or rent one locally, you’ll have no trouble getting out on the water and exploring the tranquil surroundings. Henry Hagg Lake is a hidden gem for kayakers in the Portland area, providing a serene and picturesque setting for a day of outdoor adventure.

Table: Henry Hagg Lake Facilities

Facility Description
Boat Launch Two designated ramps for easy water access
No-Wake Area Designated section for kayakers to enjoy a peaceful paddle
Trails 13 miles of surrounding trails for hiking and biking
Picnic Area Scenic spots to relax and enjoy a meal
Fishing Opportunity to catch various fish species

Hood River, OR, and White Salmon, WA

Located on opposite banks of the Columbia River, Hood River, OR, and White Salmon, WA offer thrilling kayaking opportunities for adventure seekers. The mighty Columbia River provides a breathtaking backdrop for kayaking enthusiasts, with its rapids and pristine waters. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner looking for an adrenaline rush, this region has something for everyone.

When visiting Hood River or White Salmon, be sure to explore the various kayak rental companies available. These establishments offer a wide range of kayak options to suit your preferences and skill level. One such company is the Gorge Paddling Center, which provides guided kayaking tours and lessons for both beginners and experienced paddlers.

From calm stretches of the Columbia River to challenging rapids, the kayaking options in Hood River and White Salmon are diverse and exciting. Experienced paddlers can test their skills on the rapids of the White Salmon River, while beginners can enjoy a leisurely paddle along the scenic Columbia River. No matter where you choose to kayak, the natural beauty of this area will leave you in awe.

Popular Kayaking Spots:

  • White Salmon River
  • Columbia River Gorge
  • Hood River Waterfront Park
  • Drano Lake

Guided Kayaking Tours:

Kayak Rental Company Location Tour Options
Gorge Paddling Center Hood River, OR Guided tours for beginners and advanced paddlers
Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers White Salmon, WA Beginner and intermediate guided tours
River Drifters Hood River, OR Guided tours for all skill levels

Fluvial Island: Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island, located in the Willamette River, is a hidden gem for kayakers looking to explore nature’s wonders. This expansive fluvial island offers kayakers the chance to navigate through its hundreds of coves and inlets, immersing themselves in the serene beauty of the area. With its close proximity to Portland, Sauvie Island is easily accessible for a day of paddling adventure.

There are several launch points available on Sauvie Island, including the Sauvie Island Boat Ramp and the Cove Marina near the Island Cove RV Park. These convenient access points provide kayakers with easy entry into the water, ensuring a hassle-free and enjoyable experience. Whether you prefer to paddle along the quiet coves or venture out into the open waters, Sauvie Island offers a diverse range of options for kayakers of all skill levels.

As you navigate through the island’s waterways, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the abundant wildlife that calls Sauvie Island home. Keep an eye out for various bird species, waterfowl, and other creatures that thrive in this unique ecosystem. The tranquil surroundings and picturesque scenery make Sauvie Island a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike.

Table: Launch Points and Amenities on Sauvie Island

Launch Point Amenities
Sauvie Island Boat Ramp Restrooms, parking
Cove Marina Boat rentals, RV park, camping

Embark on a kayaking adventure on Sauvie Island, where the tranquil waters, secluded coves, and stunning scenery provide a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner looking to explore, Sauvie Island offers a peaceful and picturesque setting for your next paddling excursion.

Scappoose Bay

Scappoose Bay is a protected tidal area located in Oregon, offering a unique and picturesque kayaking spot for nature enthusiasts. With its diverse landscape of islands, sloughs, wetlands, and tide channels, this bay provides an opportunity to explore and immerse yourself in the beauty of the surrounding environment.

Wildlife and Birdwatching

Scappoose Bay is a haven for wildlife, making it a perfect destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. As you kayak through the bay, you’ll have the chance to spot a variety of bird species, including herons, egrets, ospreys, and bald eagles. Keep your eyes peeled for other wildlife as well, such as river otters, beavers, and turtles, who call this area home.

Salmon Migration

One of the highlights of kayaking in Scappoose Bay is witnessing the annual salmon migration. The bay serves as a vital corridor for salmon, and during the migration season, you may have the opportunity to see these magnificent fish making their way upstream. It’s a truly remarkable sight and an experience you won’t forget.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, Scappoose Bay offers tranquility, stunning scenery, and the chance to connect with nature. It’s a hidden gem that should not be missed during your kayaking adventures in Oregon.

Attractions Details
Protected Tidal Area Scappoose Bay is a protected tidal area with diverse ecosystems, creating a unique kayaking experience.
Islands, Sloughs, and Wetlands The bay is characterized by a network of islands, sloughs, and wetlands that are waiting to be explored.
Tide Channels Navigate through the tide channels and witness the ebb and flow of the bay’s tides.
Wildlife and Birdwatching Spot various species of birds, as well as other wildlife like river otters and beavers.
Salmon Migration Experience the awe-inspiring sight of salmon making their annual migration through the bay.

Tualatin River Water Trail

The Tualatin River is a calm and gentle river, making it an ideal spot for beginner kayakers, especially during the summer when the current is barely noticeable. The Tualatin River Water Trail offers a suburban water trail experience with multiple access points for kayaking. Some recommended access points are Stafford Road – Shipley Bridge, Brown’s Ferry Park, Tualatin Community Park, Cook Park, Jurgens Park, 99W Bridge Canoe Launch, Metro Farmington Natural Area, and Rood Bridge Park.

Access Points for Tualatin River Water Trail

Access Point Description
Stafford Road – Shipley Bridge A popular starting point with parking facilities and easy river access for kayakers.
Brown’s Ferry Park A beautiful park with a boat ramp and designated kayak launch area.
Tualatin Community Park A large park with picnic areas and kayak launch spots, perfect for a family outing.
Cook Park A scenic park with river access, picnic areas, and other amenities.
Jurgens Park A peaceful park with a kayak launch area and nature trails.
99W Bridge Canoe Launch A convenient access point with parking and canoe/kayak launch facilities.
Metro Farmington Natural Area A tranquil natural area with multiple access points for kayaking and wildlife observation.
Rood Bridge Park A popular park with river access, picnic areas, and walking trails.

The Tualatin River Water Trail provides a serene and picturesque kayaking experience for beginners, offering easy access to the river and a variety of launch points to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful paddle or a family-friendly adventure, the Tualatin River Water Trail has it all. Grab your kayak and explore the beauty of this calm suburban water trail.


Portland, Oregon offers a plethora of local kayak spots that cater to both beginners and experienced kayakers. With its diverse waterways and hidden gems, paddling enthusiasts are guaranteed an unforgettable experience.

From the calm and gentle Tualatin River to the exhilarating rapids of Hood River, there is a kayaking destination for every adventurer. Explore the tranquil beauty of the Columbia Slough Watershed or venture out to the expansive Henry Hagg Lake. Discover the fluvial island of Sauvie Island and its hundreds of coves and inlets.

For nature lovers, Scappoose Bay provides a protected tidal area teeming with wildlife and stunning wetlands. And let’s not forget the suburban charm of the Tualatin River Water Trail, perfect for beginners looking for a peaceful paddling journey.

Unlock the hidden gems of Portland’s waterways and immerse yourself in the beauty of these local kayak spots. Whether you seek tranquility or adventure, these destinations offer a paddling experience that will leave you wanting more.

Richard Dodds

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