Category Archives: Kayaking Adventures

Waldo Lake- Kayak (Summer 2019)

Directions: From the town of Oakridge take OR-58 East and follow it for a little over 23 miles where you will see a sign for Waldo Lake. Take a left here and follow this road for 9 miles to the Shadow Bay Campground entrance, follow the signs for the boat ramp.

We chose to put in at the Shadow Bay dock because it was closest to where we were camping. There are multiple places around the (very large) lake that you can put your kayak in. Each area offers something different which is great.

Waldo Lake is one of Oregon’s largest natural lakes and it’s pretty high in elevation (you’re at 5,414 feet).


We had pretty windy conditions while we were here and it made the water very choppy. We were bouncing around so much that our poor dog got motion sickness. Luckily the Shadow Bay area has a few islands you can get out and relax on as well as little inlets that were much calmer. The lake is huge and we mostly stuck around the half that was closest to us but that was more than enough to explore. The lake is known for how clear it is and that you can see way down, sadly it was way too windy for us to see really deep. It was definitely very clear when you were out of the wind or along the shore.

The lake is beautiful and massive. If you come all the way out here definitely plan on spending quite a while on the lake- there’s just so much to see.


Distance: There’s 10 square miles of water surface

Elevation: —

Pet Friendly: Yes if your dog likes kayaking

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: At the campgrounds

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Summer through Fall

Popular: Very

Warnings: Always wear your lifejacket.

Government Cove Peninsula- Kayak (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the exit just past Cascade Locks that’s marked for a weigh station. Get on Frontage Rd and continue on and cross the tracks. Park near the gate.

We’ve always just hiked around this area but decided to kayak around the coves this time.

We put the kayak in just to the left of the gate off the large rocks that line the edge of the water. We paddled out and around and passed the sailboat that is anchored near the grass. There is a large eagles nest up in the trees here which was great to see.


The two coves don’t connect so you will have to go out into the Columbia briefly. So continue out towards the river and go left where you can get into the second cove. It was windy and the river was pretty choppy while we were here, it was a little rough getting into the second cove but definitely doable.


After exploring the second cove paddle back out the way you came in. If you hike to the top of the rock on Government Cove you can see the coves where you’ll be kayaking.

There were a lot of birds (so bring binoculars!) and good views of the Gorge. It was a unique kayak and we’ll definitely be back.

Distance: 1-2 miles (easy)

Paddle: Easy (the river may be a bit choppy)

Pet Friendly: Sure if they are good in a kayak 🙂

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Three Rocks Beach- Kayak (Summer 2018)

Directions: The boat ramp is at Knights Park near Lincoln City.

This is a nice paddle to a secluded beach only accessible by kayak or boat.

Once you’re in the water head right on the Salmon River and head for the ocean. The water is brackish (mix of salt and fresh water) and changes depth with the tide. We were here during both tides and as long as you are mindful of where you are paddling you will be just fine.


You will be paddling with a beach to your left and some houses and Cascade Head off to your right. The water is fairly clear and we saw quite a few crabs as well as sand dollars and lots of shells at the bottom. There are a ton of seagulls floating in the water and flying all around you, as well as cormorants. Just less than a mile from the boat ramp you’ll start to notice it gets a little harder to paddle as you round a corner and come to the ocean. This is where you will want to get off on the beach and pull your kayak out. Make sure to drag your kayak quite a ways out of the water, the tide can change quickly and you don’t want to lose your kayak.


The beach is one of the quietest and cleanest we’ve ever been to. You get fantastic views of Three Rocks right in front of you, The Thumb to your left, and Cascade Head to your right. We were the only people on the beach, the only people we saw were in fishing boats out in the ocean. It was amazing to see no footprints or a single piece of garbage. The beach stretches on and connect to Roads End beach miles off to your left. There was great beach combing as well.


On our paddle back to the car we were treated with over a dozen seals swimming all around our kayak- it was amazing!

If you want to extend your paddle continue on past the boat ramp and you will enter the Salmon River Estuary. We spent so much time on the beach that we didn’t have much time for the estuary- next time!

We did this kayak against the tide on the way in and on the way out and it wasn’t very hard. It does get a bit harder when you are really close to the ocean but it’s still very manageable.

*Please keep this lovely beach just as clean, if not more clean, than how you found it.*


Distance: 1.5-1.75 miles (round trip just to the beach) can be extended if you do the estuary

Paddle: Easy

Pet Friendly: Sure if your pet likes to be in a kayak

Good For: Most

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: Being so close to the ocean and dealing with tides please be extra cautious.

Wallowa Lake- Kayak (Summer)

Directions: From the town of Joseph take Main St. south where the road curves and turns into Wallowa Lake Hwy. About 6 miles later you’ll enter the Wallowa Lake area follow the road off to the right and enter the parking area for the lake.

There is a dock on the south end of the lake where the marina is and that’s where we put our kayak in. You get the best views of the Wallowa Mountains on this end as well.

Wallowa Lake is pretty huge and you can see just how big it is while you’re driving on the Wallowa Lake Highway, you follow right along it for miles. We saw every type of boat and recreational water sport while we were there. Speed boats, pontoons, jet skis, kayaks, canoes stand up paddle boards, inflatable donuts…you name it, we probably saw it! It doesn’t necessarily feel crowded because the lake is so big, but you will always be within earshot of someone and the speed boats tend to rip around the lake so you’ll be bouncing around quite a bit.


While we were on the lake we saw a few bald eagles, osprey, and quite a few common mergansers. There were a few deer out in the grass as well. 

If you paddle about to the center of the lake there are some small square floating docks, some with benches, that you can get out and relax on.

The whole lake and surrounding area is quite scenic, we had a great time while we were out on the water.

Distance: Depends on how far/where you’re going. It’s an easy paddle.

Elevation: —

Pet Friendly: Sure if you’re dogs like being out on the water.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Disappearing Lake (Kayak)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Go right onto Highway 14 and after a little over 14.5 miles take a left onto Cook Underwood Rd. Follow this road for about 5 miles and take a left onto Willard Road. Willard Road turns into Oklahoma Road, follow it a short distance until you see a sign for Forest Road 66. Take a left onto FR 66 and follow it for over 12.5 miles (the last couple miles of this road is gravel) until you come to two lakes. Disappearing Lake is on the left, South Prairie Lake is on the right.

We did this kayak last year and we liked it so much we have decided to do it every memorial day weekend. To learn more about this interesting lake (that’s only around for short time each year) see our first post here.

This year the water level was much higher from all the rain and snow we got. We even ran into snow on the forest road that the lake is next to. With the water level being higher we were able to explore more of the lake this time. There are a few side areas that you can squeeze your kayak through to get farther back into the trees.


The lake is almost split in two by a row of trees. The first part is pretty open and has a few small areas that you can easily get into with your kayak. We saw a snake hanging on to a tree out in the water which was quite interesting.


The back part of the lake is full of trees that you can kayak in between. In our opinion this is the best part of the lake. It’s really interesting and almost looks like a bayou. The trees are very tall and covered in vines and moss. There are dead trees that have fallen all throughout the lake as well. Back in this part is where we got to explore more of the side branches of the lake. In some places the water level was extremely low and we had to really squeeze our kayak through debris and low hanging branches. But once you got back into the side parts the pools deepened.


This lake is really calm which makes for an easy paddle. Make sure you plan enough time to really explore this area, there is a lot to see here. Just a few steps across the road from Disappearing Lake is South Prairie Lake. It would be a nice lake to paddle around in as well if you have the time.

It’s hard to predict when to visit this lake. It depends so much on what type of weather we had throughout winter. Plus how hot or mild spring starts out. We’ve found that memorial day weekend has been nice both years but we did prefer the higher water level so we may have to go earlier in May if we have a drier winter. Also, make sure you come back and visit this place after it drains, the meadow is beautiful! Check it out here.

Distance: —


Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes if your animal enjoys hanging out on the kayak with you 🙂

Good For: All ages. This lake would be great for beginners!

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: There is a very small season for this lake usually mid May through early June.

Popular: No

Overall: Very unique area, we’ll be back for years to come.

Best Of 2016

We did a lot of great hikes in 2016, here are some of our favorites and our overall top hike of the year.

  • Willamette Valley:

Henline Falls– This is a short hike but it takes you to an amazing waterfall. Catch it at the right time of day and you might just see a rainbow at the base as well!

  • Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia Hills State Park– Great area to see wildflowers with amazing views of the Gorge.

  • Washington:

Lewis River Falls– So many pretty waterfalls in such a short distance. Definitely a must see.

  • Coast:

The Thumb– This was probably the most unique hike we did this year.

  • Central Oregon:

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge)– The views are amazing at the top and you get a very up close view of Monkey Face!

  • Mt. Hood:

Wind Lake– You get to ride a chairlift up to the top of Ski Bowl and then hike to a somewhat hidden lake. And the whole time you have great views of Mt. Hood and Government Camp. 

  • Portland:

Powell Butte- This is a great hike in the city. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood.

  • Southern Oregon:

Plaikni Falls– This hike was inside Crater Lake National Park, it’s very pretty, especially in autumn with all the beautiful colors.

  • Kayak:

Disappearing Lake– This was such a treat! It’s a lake that’s only around for about a month out of the whole year.

Overall Best of 2016:

Bald Mountain– The hike up bald mountain is beautiful and lined with beargrass. Once at the top you round a corner and come to one of the best views of Mt. Hood we’ve ever seen. Do this hike!

What were some of your favorite hikes in 2016? Any you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?


Summer Hikes

Looking for a nice summer hike? Here’s a list of some of our favorites 🙂

If you’re looking to stay in Portland and the surrounding cities check out Oak Island, Mt. Talbert, or Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. They are all easy hikes that have decent shade and lots of birds.


We love hitting up all the great trails that the Mt. Hood area has to offer during the summer months. Tamanawas Falls and Umbrella Falls are great options if you are looking for a waterfall hike. For a lake hike check out Mirror Lake (and Tom, Dick, and Harry Ridge!), and Lower Twin Lake. Zigzag Canyon is also a really fun hike, go in mid to late June while the lupine is blooming!


Some great summer Gorge hikes are Upper and Lower Latourell Falls, Gillette Lake, and Strawberry Island.


Summer time is full of Kayaking as well, be sure to check out Scappoose Bay and Lost Lake!


–Happy Hiking!


Disappearing Lake (By Kayak)

Directions: Take I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Go right onto Highway 14 and after a little over 14.5 miles take a left onto Cook Underwood Rd. Follow this road for about 5 miles and take a left onto Willard Road. Willard Road turns into Oklahoma Road, follow it a short distance until you see a sign for Forest Road 66. Take a left onto FR 66 and follow it for over 12.5 miles (the last couple miles of this road is gravel) until you come to two lakes. Disappearing Lake is on the left, South Prairie Lake is on the right.

Disappearing Lake is a seasonal lake located in South Prairie in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and it’s only around for about 4 weeks out of the year. Each spring (usually early-mid May) it fills with snow melt and gets to about 8-10 feet deep. Usually by the second weekend of June it has drained out to where you can’t kayak or canoe anymore. By July it’s a beautiful grassy meadow that you can hike around. There isn’t much information on Disappearing Lake, Oregon Field Guide on OPB had an episode about it back in 2013. Click on the link for the 7 minute video that gives you a bit more information about this interesting lake.

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There are two good areas right off the road that are easy spots to put your kayak in the lake. We chose the spot near the Northeast corner of the lake. When you first get in the lake it seems just like any other lake. When you head off towards the trees that are just sprouting up in the middle of the lake you enter this almost bayou type area. The trees are pretty big and are all over the lake, it’s kind of crazy to see but also really neat. In the shallow areas you can see the grass starting to come in. The lake is over the top of the Big Lava Flow area in the Gifford Pinchot NF, so you can see the lava rock in the water and all along the edges of the lake.

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There are lots of narrow areas that you can squeeze your kayak into and check out. It’s one of the most peaceful and unique lakes we’ve ever been to and quickly became our favorite kayak trip. Make sure to check out the pollen lines on the trees, the lake had already dropped a good foot and it was still May! We drifted around the calm waters for about two hours and were able to check out every part of the lake. We got to the lake pretty early and were the only ones out there, by the time we got back to the car there were probably about 5 or 6 other people with more driving in.

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Across from Disappearing Lake is South Prairie Lake. We didn’t go out in our kayak but we did walk around it a bit. It’s a pretty lake with lily pads all around it. We definitely want to come back and explore it more another time.


We plan to come back in July when Disappearing Lake turns into a meadow. We’ve heard about some rare lily that grows out there in the summer. It’ll be fun to see how much everything has changed as well!

Distance: —

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Flat/calm water

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Depends each year because of snow melt but usually late May to Early June.

Popular: No

Overall: We loved this fun lake and can’t wait to come back next year!

Estacada Lake (By Kayak)

Directions: The put-in for this kayak trip is Timber Park in Estacada. It’s right off Highway 224 just before you get into the main town area of Estacada. It’s located next to the ranger station.

This kayak is from the River Mill Dam to the Faraday Dam.

Once you are in Timber Park pass by the disc golf course and follow the signs to the non-motorized boat launch site. It’s down by the River Mill Dam.

Once you put in head left out on the lake. Estacada Lake is a dammed portion of the Clackamas River so it’s very calm with no rapids. The lake is pretty narrow with tall cliffs on both sides. There are a few waterfalls along the way. The first one you will see has a small beach area where you can get out of your kayak and get a better look if you want. The second one is much taller but you can’t get out.

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Around the halfway point you will go under a bridge and come to some very scenic cliffs covered in lime green lichen. The lake is a popular fishing area and you will see plenty of people fishing off the tall rocks along the way.


As you get closer to the Faraday Dam you will notice the current picking up a little bit. When you see the rocky island in the middle of the lake you are almost there. This area is a bit more swift and takes quite a bit of paddling to get through. We saw a few people struggle and give up but we made it through fine, just paddle hard going into it. You will now see the pump house for the Faraday Dam. This is the end point for this kayak trip. We got out and had lunch on the rocks before turning around and heading back the way we came in.

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Estacada Lake can be very busy. We got here early and it was nice and quiet. But, about the last mile on the way back we started notice a lot more motorized boats and just people in general. It’s a popular swimming area in the summer as well. If crowds or motorized boats aren’t your thing get here right when the park opens (8 am).

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Mostly flat/calm water until you get to the dam.

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes near the disc golf course

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: We’ll definitely be back. This would be a great fall kayak!

Spring Hikes

Hope everyone is enjoying the new season! Here are some of our favorite spring-time hikes 🙂


If you’re looking for flowers:

Pittock Mansion

Rowena Crest & Tom McCall Nature Preserve

Lacamas Creek (Camas Lily Field)

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival


Hikes that open in spring or that should be done before it gets too hot:

Larch Mountain

Painted Hills

Smith Rock



Tunnel Falls

Fairy Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Pool Of The Winds

Falls Creek Falls

Mist Falls



Spring kayaking:

Columbia River Slough

Sturgeon Lake