Cedar River (near Tokeland)

8 May 2018: Paddling up the Cedar River

Cedar River is a short river on the north shore of Willapa Bay. I found it by following the shoreline of the bay on the computer’s satellite view and looking for rivers I hadn’t paddled yet. Washington Water Trails on their Willapa Bay Water Trail Access Points page implied that access to the Cedar River was from Tokeland.

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It is an additional 7-mile round trip to start at Tokeland instead of where Highway 105 crosses it, without much to see in the open bay between. Furthermore, a portage would be required over the highway.

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A google earth view shows a parking area to the left and a road up the west side.
Here is the pullout for that road up the west side with room for one vehicle.
From the highway the river looks inviting inland.

It didn’t look so inviting as it entered the bay. The tide here is at 2.5′ and falling.

Tokeland Marina is in the distance.

This river would be a NO in my book for three reasons.


I had room to park but the welcome wasn’t there.
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The left sign refers to the road, the right sign is on the highway’s edge close by.


The river bank is very steep and overgrown, not visible from the satellite view.


The third discouragement is the river outlet from under the highway. This massive wood door swings around on its chains as the flowing river lifts it. That is no place to be. Thinking about it, the door must be a giant check valve that closes when the tide rises to prevent salt water from flowing upriver. Still, I would NOT launch above something like this.


The edge of the bay by the river’s mouth. Portage might be possible, but it takes a free hand to climb the rocks.
Half a mile west is a large parking lot with a couple of benches to view the meadow. A Discover Pass is required to park here and enjoy this. It wasn’t crowded nor was it my cup of tea today.

I headed another 5.5 miles to look at the Tokeland Marina.

Two sturdy commercial concrete launches with a small fishing fleet.
The view across the bay to the Cedar River.

I headed back but as I crossed the bridge I saw another turnout on the west side. I pulled off to give the river a final chance and it looked like a possibility, though the tide was very low.

The boat is sitting on a grass-covered short road with parking for only one or two.
Down a not so steep bank is a perfectly welcome entrance to the Cedar River.
I was to find out this is the minimum tide to access this channel. 2’+ would be better.
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It was 5 inches just outside the little access slough, but there was a 40 inch depth  in the main channel.
A quiet river winding through logging country.


A log monster with big jaws.
Another one with big eyes.

I did hear a creature dive in close by but only saw a muddy trail underwater.

A cabin is in view.
Simple solid cement plank construction, and empty I hope.
One of the mooring lines collecting stream debris.
A view over a log that diverts the big debris. A big barrel of none of my business on the porch, more likely water storage than a hot tub.
A series of old pilings probably for tying off log rafts.
The upstream bridge is near.
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Here’s the google earth view showing the floating shed downriver of the bridge. But I couldn’t drive there because of the locked gate and the ‘NO’ signs.
Here is why we’re not paddling up this culvert today.
I landed and got out to take a look upstream. (It could later be a ‘wee-haw’ ride back through the culvert, probably not).

The banks were very steep, the river was near its shallows and, it really wasn’t a good idea to try to continue anyway.

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This was flowering by the bridge with 8 bugs checking it out. I tried to describe it when I got home, the picture might do better.
It was a faster trip downstream.
Plants opting to grow in the waterfront view property.
A rain shower as I went past the cabin.

I took a side trip to see the upriver side of the tidal gate.  I stayed pretty far back as I’ve read how currents can stick a boat to blocking trees and gates.

The safety screen must require an occasional cleaning.
The river above the tidal gate was calm and not salty.
Now the tide was down to only about a foot.

My access slough was only a trickle, too shallow to paddle back.

I found a root mass nearby to carefully push the boat ashore but it was still very muddy.
A reason to carry a long line, I’m walking in the reeds while the boat is in the mud.

Side note:   I saw an illustration of a kayak being towed and now have a line around the deck to mimic it. Both line ends are near me while seated and also feed through a loop at the bow. In use, I can tie one end to another boat while reeling in or out the other end without ever leaving the seat. If snugged up and overlapping the stern of another single kayak I think I might have a tandem kayak on the cheap where either person can power the lashed together boats.

A paddle ghost formed from the rain while loading up.
Last view of the river. Muddy shoes & overalls are in the back, the heater is on and the rain is serious.
At a plus two feet, the bay is impassable.
3.6 miles traveled in 1 hour 27 minutes with a maximum speed of 4.9 mph averaging 2.4 mph.


On the way home I double checked another google map trip and found it also needed correction. The Nemah River is difficult to launch onto as there is no highway turnoff and a lot of concrete barriers. I found a likely spot southwest at a small stream that feeds into the same area.

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From home it looked like a launch site worth checking out.
Looks doable but I found a better site elsewhere that I’ll be putting in my book.

2 thoughts on “Cedar River (near Tokeland)

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