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Multi-Day Flat Water Options OR, WA, BC?

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Good morning dear esteemed Canoe Tripping members!
I live in Northern California, and any multi day trips around here are pretty much limited to the Sacramento River. I am not aware of any such flat water opportunities at all...well, other than circumnavigating the 350ish mile Lake Shasta reservoir perhaps. What I am hoping to find are opportunities along the lines of Bowron Lakes Loop or such. River trips class I with the occasional class II would be OK too but I'd prefer not having to shuttle. Are there any west coast folks (living here or have done multi-day trips here) that could share their thoughts/experiences with tripping in Oregon, Washington, BC? Looking forward to your thoughts.
Cheers!
 
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Thanks, Glenn.
Your's is the only response I have gotten so far. Either there aren't many west coast paddlers on the forum, or multi-day opportunities, as described, are even more sparse than I thought :)
 
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You might look into Wells Gray PP south of Bowron Lakes. I've been meaning to get there, but haven't yet (done Bowron 4x over the last 35 years). The Green River in Utah is a fun paddle--I took a very leisurely 11 days on it in 2000. The Grande Ronde River in eastern Oregon is fun--I remember it as a 3 day trip from Minam to Troy, with one decent riffle. While you're in the area, check out Hell's Canyon NRA beyond Imnaha--no paddling, but some really neat areas (hike to the Snake River along the Imnaha River). Here's some reading: https://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewforum.php?f=106. I've paddled Ross Lake in North Cascades NP a couple of times, once from the north through BC, and once in the south with a commercial shuttle around the damn (whoops, dam)--two long weekends at opposite ends.
 
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Hello, Dagger. I lived in The Vancouver, BC area for 33 years. But did mostly whitewater rivers as day trips, and Northwest Territories rivers for extended trips. We did do Bowron Lake with another couple. It is the classic no-shuttle trip in BC, although it does have multiple portages and a few chutes between lakes. You mention Bowron Lake. Have you discounted Bowron Lake? It is probably the most suitable based on your criteria.

Jack Wainwright's book Canoe Trips in British Columbia list eight Wilderness Canoe Camping Trips in B.C. that don't require shuttles. In addition to Bowron, he includes Clearwater Lakes, Harrison Lake, Murtle Lake Nation Lakes, Nitinat Lake, Powell Forest and Stave Lake. I don't have any experience with these seven, although Kathleen and I did seriously consider the Powell Forest at one time. It looked interesting. The whole circuit is 57.2 km of lake paddling, with 8 km of portaging. Jack says to allow two days of strenuous paddling and portaging to complete the circuit. He also says if you plan to do a little exploring and fishing, a week is not unreasonable. Jack cautions that it is rain forest, though, and camping is not always easy to find.

Several links exist. This is just one. It does look interesting. https://powellriver.info/tourism/ima...e_Brochure.pdf

Hope you find what you're looking for.

Michael
 
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Pitt lake, Clearwater/Azure Lakes (1 portage), Harrison Lake and Murtle Lake are all great options. All these lakes have strong afternoon winds. Pitt Lake is tidal, though not on a schedule though curretns are not an issue.

I also highly recommend ocean trips. There are a few that do not have any current issues, though you do have to carry water. Overall, they lack the feel of remoteness, but that is strongly overshadowed by the rich marine life, including the chance to sea whales. These are my favourites that I've paddled in a canoe (none have any serious currents):

Indian Arm (in North Vancouver--no whales)
Desolation Sound (warm water, lakes to swm in, no winds and lots of yachts in summer)
Broken Group Islands -busy with kayakers in summer
Sechelt Inlet

More adventuresome are:
Broughton Archiplelago
Deer Group
God's Pocket
Hakai/Bella Bella

All are doable in a canoe with or without a skirt, though a skirt helps in the rain, which does happen in this temperate rainforest :).
 
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Jack Wainwright's book Canoe Trips in British Columbia list eight Wilderness Canoe Camping Trips in B.C.

With the photo of a Washington lake on the cover (Picture Lake, with Mt. Shuksan in the background, and the lake is maybe 2 acres)! I used to live in Bellingham, and my daughter still does, so I get back there frequently.
 
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Dagger, sounds like you would prefer flatwater paddles in the NW. So would I, but the only one (er, two) I have paddled is Waldo Lake in the Three Sisters, and that, while novel, is barely a multi-day trip.

There once were, maybe still are, a couple of paddle in island sites on Waldo, and a bunch of lake front NFS car camping sites. Waldo is special, and peculiar, and worth a visit, if only for the “Oh F%$&” sensation of paddling out over the abrupt drop off and suddenly looking at stuff on the bottom 100 feet down. Seriously cool “fear of falling” sensation the first time you paddle out over the drop off.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/will...ea/?recid=4528

Er two. I couldn’t resist putting a canoe on, just to say that I had peddled the length of the D River on the Oregon coast. Easy launch ramp, but only a 400 ft paddle for that claim to fame. Er, 800 feet, I went back and forth twice, just to say I did the whole length.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D_River

Ah crap, I guess I need to go paddle the Roe in Montana.

I too would like to know more about gentle paddling opportunities in NoCal, OR and WA, especially no shuttle required lake paddle-in trips.
 
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I also highly recommend ocean trips

Jeffski,,

Kathleen and I lived in North Vancouver for 22 years, and paddled in Indian Arm many times. Spectacular scenery, Dagger.

We lived on South Pender Island between Vancouver and Victoria for five years. Kept our canoe at the bottom of the stairs to the beach. Did a lot of paddling to coffee shops and the pub in Port Browning. Circumnavigated Pender three times. Paddled over to the winery on Saturna Island several times. Over to Saltspring a couple of times. Enjoyed learning about ocean currents. Even canoed through Active Pass twice. Despite very strong currents up to 10 knots, if you go at slack tide, it’s pretty straightforward, as long as you let the ferries clear the pass first. If you don’t need wilderness, Dagger, these islands afford great canoeing with pubs and restaurants. Camping is often limited, though, as much of it is private property.

Have seen several slide shows on people canoeing the Broken Islands. Ocean paddling can indeed be spectacular.


If you are interested in ocean paddling, Dagger, you might also look into the San Juan Islands in Washington State. A little bit closer to home. When flying over, there looks to be lots of fairly protected paddling opportunities.
 
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You guys are AWESOME!!! :).
Got my homework cut out for me now. Tons of cool ideas.
Thank you all!

P.S. I have indeed considered Tahoe Water Trails. I love the lake but it is quite crowded. I was looking more for someplace away from people.
 
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There once were, maybe still are, a couple of paddle in island sites on Waldo, and a bunch of lake front NFS car camping sites. Waldo is special, and peculiar, and worth a visit, if only for the “Oh F%$&” sensation of paddling out over the abrupt drop off and suddenly looking at stuff on the bottom 100 feet down. Seriously cool “fear of falling” sensation the first time you paddle out over the drop off.


Mike,
What is that "paddling out over the abrupt drop off"? I am intrigued and terrified at the same time, and I haven't even been there yet...:)
 
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What is that "paddling out over the abrupt drop off"? I am intrigued and terrified at the same time, and I haven't even been there yet...:)

First, a caveat; I have not been to Waldo since October of 1988. At that time there were two paddle-in island sites and the Forest Service campground at the lake was empty, so I had the entire place to myself.

The interesting, almost unique, thing about Waldo is/was the ultraoligotrophic clarity of the water, with visibility 100 feet down. The “abrupt drop off” is just that, the lake edge starts off shallow, and then suddenly and abruptly drops to 100+ foot depth.

The water is (or was) so clear that it was like paddling on air, hence the kinda freaky “Oh $hit” feeling when the bottom suddenly drops off and stuff on the bottom 100 feet down is clearly visible.

Wiki details here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldo_Lake
 
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And here I was, thinking Mike is crazier than I thought or he has a serious need for thrill and paddles out over some dam-wall till his but is suspended over 100' of nothingness. Than I thought about how you would even do that without falling...and my mind was off in a totally wired direction. 100' deep clear water I can do! :)
 
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Dagger, there are a few that I know of, although I haven't taken the time to do them yet.

Washington has the Winchester Wasteway that is often done as an overnight trip. Across the border in Idaho, the Priest River has an overnight trip. Another overnighter on the St. Joe. Mentioned already is Oregon's Grande Ronde, which I recommend, having seen much of it from shore - also an overnighter. Also the John day, which has multiple options of days/nights.The Deschutes is kind of mixed with big whitewater, but has some calmer stretches. Going further inland, there are stretches of the Snake in Idaho that can be multiple day trips - lengths depending on how creative you are with portaging and how tolerant you are to development. Montana has the Clark Fork. the Thompson, the Yak, and the Flathead - which is a 54 mile 3-day trip through the Flathead "Indian" Reservation.

In my general area, multi-day river trips can be done by poling, that would not be possible any other way. There are several river stretches that either originate in roadless areas, or at least the end of the big whitewater is not accessible by road. I suspect that this is the case for a lot of rivers here in the west. The one I don't mind sharing is the South Fork of the Payette, from Grandjean, Idaho, going upstream into the Sawtooth Wilderness.

We also have some rivers that are seasonal overnight trips. The one I'm most familiar with and have done several times is the Weiser in western Idaho. That one has a lot of big class 2 in spring flows, and goes through 25 miles of roadless canyon. That can be turned into a three day trip by starting upstream of the usual put-in at Midvale - at Cambridge - and camping first night at Midvale.
 
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Thanks, Steve.
We visited my wife's uncle in Sand Point a while back. Pend Oreille Lake is near and the same named river. Do you have any experience with either?
We did boat Priest Lake which was great fun.
 
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Pend Oreille is at the opposite end of the state from me, so I haven't been on the lake or the river yet. Most likely the first time I do, it will be on the lake, in the sailboat. ;) The lake is big and deep (the navy tests submersibles there), and has the usual weather related issues. I do have a trip planned tentatively for next year on the St Joe.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Okay, Dagger, I consulted the most expert source for river tripping in Northern California, my 1973 edition of Canoeing Waters of California by Ann Dwyer. Ann was a mentor of mine when I bought my first canoe as an adult in 1980 in San Jose, CA. She also ran an equipment business called Dragonfly Designs, which made the best rope throwbags and float bags on the market at that time, or any time. Her vinyl end bags in my MR Explorer have not deflated in 39 years. She also made me a custom made paddling suit from a then new fabric called Goretex. Also custom made square end bags and split rectangular center bags, which could abut the triangular end bags for solo position paddling.

These are easy to intermediate river runs on California coastal rivers with perhaps an occasional portage. You can find campsites put-ins, take-outs and shuttles from various online reports, articles and outfitter websites. There must be appropriate water levels. You can surely paddle these river sections faster than Ann's estimates. She liked to go slow and absorb.

Eel River. Can be run the 32 miles from Alderpoint to South Fork. Ann calls it 3-7 days.

Navarro River. 16 miles from Hendy Woods State Park to Dimmick State Park,1-2 days. 10 miles from Dimmick SP to Navarro-by-the-Sea, 1 day. This river will go through big redwoods and firs. You can continue paddling along the ocean coast if the water is calm.

Russian River. I don't know how many miles total, probably more than 80. Ukiah to Hopland is 16 miles, 1 long day. Ann doesn't list Hopland to Cloverdale, but I know class 3 Squaw Rock rapid is in that section and maybe some other rapids. Cloverdale to Healdsburg is 30 miles, 2-3 days. Healdsburg to Reins Beach is 27 miles, 2-3 days. Reins Beach to Jenner on the ocean is probably another 8-10 miles or so. Many outfitters on this river, especially around Healdsburg.

Trinity River. There are several sections of class 2/2+ whitewater, mostly pool-drop, from Lewiston to Hoopa. You should have whitewater experience. As I vividly recall being told by a voice on the telephone in 1981, "Don't go into Burnt Ranch Gorge or you will die." That, of course, was before whitewater expert Bob Foote did it in an open canoe (a Mad River ME). But lesser mortals will still die.

I did sections of all these river in the early 80's and miss them all.

You can also do day trips up and down the Big River from beautiful Mendocino, and the Noyo River from Fort Bragg along the route of the famous Skunk Train. These are redwood runs when you get far enough upstream. As tidal rivers, you will have to time your runs to catch the tide properly up and back. I never tried it, but maybe you can even stealth camp overnight when you get upstream far enough. It certainly gets wildernessy enough.
 
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Thanks, Glenn!. A good list of rivers for sure. I have done Noyo and Big River (day trips) and also the Albion with its river cabins. Big river tidal influence and wind can make paddling "downstream" a real chore :). The other two are easy paddling and get wild quickly.
 
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Quick update:
Last weekend, we went to Ahjumawi Lava Springs, between Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen. About 6,000 acre lake with several natural springs where water from underground lava caverns enters the lake to the tune of several million gallons a day! A lot of the lake looks like pea soup in the hot afternoons, but the mornings are superb, and the spring areas are simply outstanding. Water clarity is so good at the springs, it feels like one paddles on air. There are three paddle-in "campgrounds" with each having 3 camp sites. Our site was over an acre and had a pier (the only one with a pier). There was one other canoe couple at the lake, about a mile away from our camp. There was no one else at the lake...well, aside from lots of black bears. We saw evidence of many bears, but I only saw one bear in the evening, down by the edge of the lake wandering along the thick belt of cat tails. He (or she) was a good 200' away from camp. It looked at me briefly and rose to on it's hind legs, but continued doing what it was doing. No bear in camp that nigh either, but we keep a very, very clean camp.

In other news, it turns out I will be in Toronto on business in two weeks, and I added a few days to the back end of that trip, for a 4-day paddle at Algonquin Provincial Park! That area (among others) has been on my bucket list for ever, but I thought I might have to wait for retirement to actually make it up there. Life is full of surprises and this opportunity opened up. Either that or my manifestation skills are better than I thought ;). Either way, Last time I was this excited was when I got a train set for Christmas when I was 6...!
 

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