3 Great Days on the Willamette River - Part 1

June 2013 - Corvallis to Wheatland Ferry by Kayak and Canoe

Jim and I had talked for a while about doing a Willamette paddle. Chuck and Shalline said that they were ready to go, and that seemed to make it happen. The river is a wonderful place and it was a treat to be able to spend three days out exploring, taking in the sights, enjoying friends and camping along the way.

This story follows our trip in order from Corvallis to Wheatland Ferry. This took us from river mile (RM) 131 to RM 72 for a total distance of 59 statute miles. We divided this almost evenly between the three days. The cars were left in Corvallis and my wife Janet most kindly came down in the van and picked up us and our boats. We put in on June 11, 2013.

This web page is part one, covering our first day. Part 2 covers the second and third days.

The river miles decrease going downstream. RM 0 is at Kelly Point in Portland, where the Willamette flows into the Columbia River.

The river flow was slightly above the summertime level, providing several knots of free ride. We paddled moderately to add perhaps three more knots. We seemed to average around 5 knots (6 mph) much of the time.

Until we got close to Salem, houses were infrequent. Some of them, such as this one between Corvallis and Albany , seemed to be in tune with the river.

Our constant companions were the irrigation pumps. This one was relatively fancy. We talked with one farmer that was starting his pump for the first time this season, but most seemed to be running by the time we arrived.

Animal life that we saw was dominated by birds. Birds are challenging to photograph, so the animal picture is a deer! Shalline and Chuck saw a raccoon, but other mammals were hiding. Twice we saw large anadromous fish moving up stream in the shallows. Insects were abundant, but we did not need repellant at any time.

Life is tough on the river.

We all got into the spirit..

Bowers Rock State Park (RM122-123) is undeveloped, but interesting parcel of land. It includes a quiet slough that goes well off the river. The river mile signs are scattered and usually at points of note.

What a great spot for an Osprey nest. This is the Albany railroad bridge (RM 119).

I think this group is supposed to be up north in Canada. But, they look happy on the Willamette. We saw modest numbers of Canada Geese. Relatively, the Ospreys and Bald Eagles were abundant, reflecting their resurgence. Great Blue Herons were common, as usual, along with many other species.

Here's another big animal, the Willamette Fringed Turtle.

Not much industrial activity is seen along the river. This equipment is apparently sending water to Millersburg.

We stopped for the first day at the Luckiamute Landing State Park. This is a lightly developed park that has a camp site for river travellers, including a picnic table, fire pit and an outhouse. The camping area, which is set back from the river beach, is large and open.

Shalline took this picture of our Luckiamute camp. We had three walk-in visitors at the camp. This contrasts with our time on the water where we saw one boat with a driver, but passed zero boats in three days.

Jim found some wood that he sawed up and made a little camp fire.

This is sunset on the beach for the camping area. The Santiam River is entering the Willamette in the background, coming from the right behind the willow bushes.

On to days 2 and 3

This page was last updated 16 June 2013

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