Before coming to Portland, I lived in the French Alps. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities there, so I became an avid hiker, skier, mountain biker and yodeler (I’m making this one up.)
My new city offers just as many opportunities to indulge in my hobbies, and I take great advantage of the trails of Mt. Hood, the Columbia Gorge, Mt. St. Helens and our lush forests, etc. But the true gems of the area are our rivers, calm or wild, and the unlimited fun they provide. So sometimes I give my legs a break and start moving my arms.
1. Paddling with a guide
Whether you want to admire downtown Portland and its 9 bridges from the Willamette River, feel an adrenaline rush on class IV rapids, or surprise birds and beavers in a preserved bay, you’ll be able to find an all-inclusive option in the Portland area. eNRG Kayaking, a local leader in nature conservation, offers tours of Ross Island, downtown, from $50, including boat rental, safety equipement, guide and energy bars. Tours go up from there, all the way to multi-day trips down the Clackamas and Deschutes rivers.
Only 40 minutes northwest of Portland (take Hwy. 30 toward St. Helens) lies the protected bay of Scappoose. Here, Scappoose Bay Kayaking owners Steve Gibons and Bonnie Shoop (often flanked by their faithful half-coyote-half-dog, McCormick) will provide your family with all that’s necessary for an amazing and zen-inducing paddle experience among migratory geese (throusands of them depending on the season), beavers, blue herons and bald eagles. Other offerings from this company include full-moon paddles and multi-day trips to Astoria. Tours start at $45.
2. Paddling on your own
Both eNRG Kayaking and Scappoose Bay Kayaking offer rentals if you prefer to explore on your own. Not able to drive to their locations? Rent from Portland Kayak Company, a short bus or bike ride from downtown hotels. From there, it’s easy to enjoy the Willamette River around Ross Island, and all the way down to Lake Oswego. Portland Kayak Company also offers tours from downtown Portland, starting at $45. Call ahead to reserve.