Willamette Falls Kayak is a 2.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Oregon City, Oregon that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for nature trips, birding, and canoeing and is best used from March until October.
Willamette Falls is the largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest by water volume, second largest in the United States behind Niagara Falls. Kayak to a view that few are able to experience. This horseshoe shaped block waterfall is caused by a basalt shelf in the river floor and is 1,500 feet wide and 40 feet high. The falls is a traditional fishing site for many Native American tribes and was once a center for trade. On this short trip you have the opportunity to see the connection between industry and the Willamette, catch a glimpse of a leaping sturgeon or salmon, view petroglyphs, and the historic Willamette Falls Locks (which are no longer in operation). Put-in at the boat ramp at Sportcraft Marina, 1701 Clackamette Drive, Oregon City. You can also access the river from Clackamette Park or Dahl Beach, just downstream. Good for canoes and kayaks at low summer flows. There is relatively little current along this stretch and only a small amount from the falls. Paddlers must be aware of powerboats and wakes rebounding off hard surfaces, like cement revetments. SAFETY ALERT: During higher river flows, there can be significant current and turbulent water as you paddle towards the falls. Such conditions are better suited for experienced paddlers. Also, this is a popular area for a variety of fisheries. There can be many motor boats in the water during fish runs, and lots of fishing lines in the river. Be sure to give boaters plenty of space, and stick to the shoreline if possible so as to not interfere. Info courtesy of willamettewatertrail.org.
This was our first kayaking adventure and it was amazing.
Willamette Falls is the highlight here, at 1,500 feet wide and 40 feet tall. The water flow is much better in the offseason, from pictures I have seen. But there is a lot of history to enjoy along this stretch of the Willamette River, including urban legends about Hell's Angels driving over the upper bridge supports as an initiation rite; viewing of the oldest canal and locks system in the US (it is decommissioned because $30 million isn't available to get it up to code) and various paper mills that have made this area their base of operations since 1866. We saw a few Blue Herons and Geese hanging out.
We couldn't get as close to the Falls as we wanted to since there was some choppy water so be aware of that limitation. But overall, a great beginning kayak trail with a view that few are able to experience.