written by Jen Sotolongo
Home to calm rivers and crystal clear alpine lakes surrounded by mountain tops, paddleboarding enthusiasts can SUP just about anywhere in Oregon. The mild winter throughout much of the state means that with the right gear, paddling year-round is a possibility.
Whether you prefer to while away the day in a lake, get a solid workout along one of the many designated water trails, or make a multi-day excursion stand-up paddlers won’t have to search far to find a serene spot to enjoy the sport.
Permits are required for non-motorized watercraft, including paddleboards 10 feet or longer, as well as life jackets and whistles. One and two-year permits are available from ODFW and Oregon.gov.
Just 30 miles southwest of Portland, Hagg Lake is a great option for year-round paddling. The lake is divided into a “wake zone” and “no wake zone” so human-powered vessels don’t have to worry about sharing space with motorized boats.
On weekends and Monday holidays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Scoggins Valley Outfitters offers paddleboard rentals. With a surface area of 1,113 acres, Hagg Lake has plenty of space to explore, even in peak season. Scoggins Valley Park, in which Hagg Lake is located, requires a parking permit; $7 for the day or $60 for an annual pass.
With a surface area of 1,113 acres, Hagg Lake has plenty of space to explore, even in peak season.
In the Cascade foothills 2.5 miles southeast of the charming town of Silverton, the beginner-friendly Silverton Reservoir is just under an hour drive from Portland, located in the foothills east of Salem.
The 65-acre reservoir does not allow motorized traffic, so it’s a great option for those new to paddleboarding. Late spring and early summer are the best times to visit, when the lake is full. Paddle toward the south end of the lake to find peace away from the busier launch and picnic area. Parking permits are required, $5 for the day or $40 annually for non-residents. During the summer, plan to arrive early to find a parking spot.
The famous Oregon Coast sand dunes near Florence create one of the highest concentrations of lakes in the state. A designated canoe trail guides paddlers from Siltcoos Lake along the 3-mile-long Siltcoos River. The tranquil water trail can be paddled in either direction and follows the tree-lined banks before arriving at the sand dunes and into an estuary that leads to the Pacific.
Ample birding and wildlife opportunities, including river otters, harbor seals, and the belted kingfisher await the observant paddler. Launch points include the Lane County boat ramp at Siltcoos Lake, the Lodgepole picnic area, or Tyee Campground off of US 101 if you are a guest.
A mere 3.5 miles from La Grande, at the top of a mountain, Morgan Lake offers quiet paddling. When the temperatures soar, take a dip in the lake to cool off. The lake features several recreational amenities, including hiking trails, picnic tables, a boat ramp and a campground. There is no fee to camp at Morgan Lake, only a limit of three nights in order to allow other visitors the chance to enjoy the lake.
KLAMATH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
If mountain views, bird watching, tranquil waters that weave through marshes sound up your alley, then you must add the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail to your paddling list. The 9.5-mile trail is located 25 miles west of Klamath Falls and features an open lake, freshwater marsh, and forest and does not permit motorized boats.
The convergence of these environments lends to abundant wildlife. More than a million waterfowl migrate to the area and birders can look out for numerous bird species such as the American white pelican, osprey and belted kingfisher. Keep an eye out for mammals such as beavers and river otters.
The trail is divided into four different sections: Recreation Creek, Crystal Creek, Wocus Cut and Malone Springs, each offering an idyllic environment within the Refuge. Fall and spring are the best times to paddle this trail, as they offer the best opportunities for bird watching.
There are three boat launches along the route, as well as various rental outfitters. Parts of the marsh dry out during the summer, so check on conditions before visiting. Afternoon winds can make for a challenging return, so be sure to plan accordingly.