There are three posts here, one above the other. This is meant to keep together all the posts regarding this river and its launch sites for easier reference later. The download may have taken longer and you may have seen the older posts before but this system made more sense to me than a scattered chronological order.

 August 19, 2018, I launched the 9.25′ Emotion Charger (the ‘MaryBeth’ boat) and headed up Skamokawa Creek to the shallows. (blog post #1) 

 August 27, 2017, I launched the Hobie Adventure Island sailboat and headed up the Columbia River outside of Price Island. I entered the first slough, circled the first island, and sailed back. (blog post #2) 

April 12, 2014, I took a lesson from Columbia River Kayaking and paddled three miles around Price Island for an hour. The rental boat was a single seat, sit inside (under a skirt), 14-foot Necky Oksa. (blog post #3) 

19 August 2018: A Paddle up the Skamokawa Creek

Up the Columbia River from Ilwaco lies Skamokawa, which is also a Chinook term for smoke or fog on the water. Today had its share of wildfire smoke, casting its haze on the water.

The Columbia River was thick with boats fishing for salmon as I passed the bridge to Astoria.
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Less than an hour away.

A little further in Cathlamet is a mural of the surrounding Columbia area.

This detail from the mural shows catamarans and kayaks near Skamokawa.

I headed to the launch at the mouth of Skamokawa Creek located under the Highway 4 bridge. I parked to the side and unloaded my small 9.3′ ‘MaryBeth’ kayak.

This little boat fits inside a van and is quick to load and launch.
Sometimes the ramp gets busy. As I waited I wondered what the large yellow bag was for in the waiting boat. I was to find out later. The mural was a clue.
It takes a five and a couple of ones to launch.
These people said they had launched for free at the campground downstream on the Columbia. Maybe I had made a $7 donation, which was OK.

The parking and the restrooms are up towards the park so leaving the boat in the grass, I went to check it out.



The price was the same. Maybe the kayak party were camping.

Remember the catamarans on the sign and the yellow float in the powerboat? Here was the answer.


Today was the local Hobie Division 4 annual catamaran event/race. The next race would be in British Columbia as the 2018 season progressed. I was invited to attend, or return next year and watch this one.


A dog waiting to supervise the takedown. This boat has bench seats for a more comfortable hike out.
An example of not sitting on a bench when ‘hiking out.’

They launched off the sandy beach that is accessed down a road between camping sites. The club’s photos of this event are here.

A 3 minute YouTube video of two cats rounding a bouy (one has problems) taken by a drone indicates the event may be hard to follow from the beach.

Returning to the bridge, I joined the other little boats on the Skamokawa Creek. It’s near impossible to explore this place on a sailing catamaran.

The same group were still having fun near the bridge.

As I headed upstream the paddle boarder was having a difficult time getting back on his board. He was nonchalant about it and the other kayakers were nearby. I hope he was having fun and not regretting his lack of a leash or his preferred craft.


He was back on his board after after maybe five minutes. Someday, if I get adventurous, I’d like to try one. Willapa Paddle Adventures in Raymond WA rents these and gives lessons for not too much.
Upstream under a small bridge.
Less of a greenhouse and more of a viewing room with an exerciser.

I noticed movement in the water and paddled back to help a bee out of the water.


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It crawled back and perched by my foot where I soon forgot about it.
Up the creek we went. The bee is still in the corner of the picture.
There were log pilings along the shore.
The wind helped blow me upstream.
There were a series of logs to weave around which were visible at the 4.4′ tide.

Later on the return trip at a 5.3′ tide the logs weren’t visible. I thunked and pushed myself over one but the current was so slow it wasn’t a safety problem.

The creek narrowed as it approached the Middle Valley Road bridge, the end of the paddle according to Google Maps. A recently fallen tree blocked the way further.

There looked to be a way through on the left.
The scrappy little boat and I pushed through.
Two creeks flow into a lagoon which was as deep as my paddle was long.
There was a tree platform with a plank for a rope swing. A fun play site for the locals.
The trip back through the calm under the trees. The headwind would come later.

Now imagine a cute squirrel crossing atop the pipe under the bridge, twisting itself around each brace. I grabbed my camera.

no squirrel

It had slipped and down it had flailed.


Off it swam to shore, not needing my help like the bee had earlier.

Given time, the camera has a rapid fire option but you never know.

To view Cassidy’s pleasant four minute musical video paddling up this creek a short ways in 2015 click here.

4.1 miles traveled in 1 hour and 42 minutes with a maximum speed of 4.3 mph averaging 2.4 mph.

Just a mile further up the Columbia I looked at a Discovery Pass launch site that accesses Brooks Slough. Maybe another time I’ll check out Hornstra Beach inside the Julia Butler Refuge for a more thorough visit of the two adjacent refuges that keep this historic area of the Columbia wild. A  two mile creek, a fun day, and more ideas for the future.





27 August 2017: Paddling & sailing up the Columbia upriver & through a slough from Skamokawa

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Skamokawa boat ramp upriver and through the first loop at Steamboat Slough.

On April 12, 2014, I took my first kayak ride. It was here in Skamokawa that I signed up for a beginning lesson from Columbia River Kayaks. We paddled up the inside passage of Price Island and back down on the riverside for a total of three miles. They have several different graceful sit-inside crafts with snap on skirts and were a big help in deciding what kind of boat I wanted to own. They offer a wide range of trips with expert guidance.

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The road to Skamokawa.

In March of this year, we had visited the museum at Redmen Hall, shown in the photo below.  From the windows, we had seen an enticing boat launch.

Here is Redmen Hall from the boat launch.

The plan today was to head east, stay near the shore inside Price Island, and duck into Steamboat Slough to visit the Lewis & Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Today the wind was forecast to be from the north 10 to 16 mph. That would mean I could use sail power both directions and hopefully minimize heading into the wind.

I filled out the form. I noticed the launch was pretty quiet for a sunny summer Sunday. There were no cars parked nearby.

I put in my dollar.

One of the locals came down to see if he could launch his ski boats yet but the tide was still too low. He then he told me that I needed to park my van in the parking lot across the road behind the trees. I only had $3 towards the $5 parking fee so it was off to the little store under Redmen Hall for a snack and more money.


As I pulled into the boat ramp’s parking lot I discovered a campground with close up views of the passing ships on the Columbia.

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Back to the launch all sorted out.

I copied this idea for carrying my boat on the van’s roof from a Yakima rack loader. It requires only lifting half the weight at a time. I’m trying to avoid using a trailer.

Next step is to swing the tail off to the ground and then lift down the bow.
Here is a closer look at the trimaran I had seen on our previous trip.
Here is the outward channel and a tower ahead.

I chose to head outside Price Island as the inside passage still looked narrow and shallow.

An Osprey nest.


Outside Price Island, I passed a kayaker carrying her dog on the back deck while playing a splashy game of fetch.
Across the river, a large barge was heading downstream.
The tow chains.
Maybe the local I met at the ramp was finally out on the water.
A sailboat motored by me as we went upstream. I was paddling and had the sail out but it still passed me.
The entrance to Steamboat Slough, about 2.5 miles up from Skamokawa.
A freighter also heading upstream.


It was the Enishi.

When I got home, according to marinetraffic.comI found out the Enishi was soon to arrive in Longview.

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Where the ‘ENSHI’ is at anchor September 2.

There was a light breeze as I headed away from the Columbia River. I didn’t even feel the wake from the Enishi.

Steamboat Slough and adventure ahead.
Looking back at the Columbia.
The shallow water is kayak friendly but not so friendly for motors.
A gate that controls the water level of the interior wetlands.
Here’s Steamboat Slough looking back towards the Columbia.
The thick Ellison Slough continues behind the gate.
And blackberries too.
Steamboat Slough Road is also a way to explore this area.
Canadian geese are keeping ahead.
Steamboat Slough, the road, and I all continued east.
Here is a junction. I went off to explore a wrong route.

My map and my good camera were back at home, probably sharing the same table with Skooter cat. I used the phone’s  ‘MapMyTracks’ map.  First, it helped me go inland, then back upstream, then back the way I came (but differently), and finally out to the river. The inland route stays a sizable stream and crosses under the highway.

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Missing this turn would have taken me inland or upstream to the next town.
The incoming tide was filling the slough from ahead.
The shortest route home was to the right while keeping straight would add another three miles.

By now it was about four hours until sunset. Although there was enough time that I didn’t need to go back the same route,  I wanted to finish the loop and avoid driving home in the dark.

The hills of Oregon in the distance. I could hear boat engines beyond the trees.
Back out into the river and the return of a wind.
Screen Shot 2018-04-20 at 8.49.02 PM.png
A sailboat crisscrossed the Columbia upstream but I was headed the other way.
I was enough upstream I could see the bridge at Cathlamet, about seven miles from Skamokawa.

Here I was tacking against a near headwind. Meanwhile, two more sailboats were motoring their way upstream. They had an incoming tide, and a fair wind to push them along, but, not me.



Here comes a can to maneuver for salvage.
It was unopened and punctured from the side, a mystery.

Soon came a float I thought I could salvage.

It snagged me hard and swung up the daggerboard. This may be a marker for a pot.
Another bird home design.
Finally, after about three hours I returned to the entrance to Steamboat Slough.
It was 6:45 and everybody was heading home.



A long crooked trip back.
It was preening and I wasn’t patient enough to wait for its noble pose.
I passed the home to Columbia River Kayaking.
The harbour’s Ospreys were calling it a night.

I passed by one of the local trawlers, the nondescript F/V Alki II. The blueprints and its history are in the Library of Congress here.

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“…Alki II represents the transition from traditional wood hull gillnet boats to the more modern fiberglass hull and a change in boat building…”
This blackberry covered special may not be on the internet at all.
Finally, an hour before sunset and about to head home.

The top speed of 24 mph on the phone looked awesome until I remembered that I had put the electronics in the car when I went into town for money. Oops.

It should read distance: 17.4 miles (9 miles without tacking or getting lost), top speed about 6 mph, and knock an hour off the activity time and a moving average rate of 2.7 mph.

12 April 2014: My first kayak lesson

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The Price Island loop.

The program for today’s event read as follows:

Price Island tour by Columbia River Kayaking

$65, half day   approximately 3 miles

Price Island is part of the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge and is located right at the mouth of Skamokawa Creek. We will paddle up protected Steamboat Slough, leaving from our dock at the old steamboat landing and general store building and into the Wildlife Refuge. Osprey nests are perched on the top of Sitka Spruce trees that are up to 400 years old. Beaver and river otter are often seen here.

If the river is calm and paddlers are willing, we will return to Skamokawa on the outside of the island, using the main channel of the Columbia River. Cormorants and Bald Eagles are often seen on this side of the island, along with a sweeping westward view downriver. This is a great introductory tour for beginning kayakers.

what to bring:


One quart plastic water bottle (full)

Lunch for full-day events, snacks 

Sunscreen and lip protection 

Sunglasses with strap 

Hat for rain and sun 

Paddling jacket or rain jacket 

Non-cotton shirts (2) for layering (wool, pile, polypro, other synthetic) 

Non-cotton pants (nylon, wool, spandex, fleece) 

Eyeglass strap 

noseplugs (optional) 

Sandals with a heel strap or neoprene booties, or tennies that can get wet 

Wool or fleece socks 

Swimsuit (optional, but makes a quick-drying under-layer) 


Change of clothes for the trip home 

Wetsuit if you have one 

Gloves for blister protection (optional) 

Drybag if you have one 

Camera, film, binoculars 

The Other Months: 

Drysuit if you have one 

More and warmer non-cotton layers 

Shatterproof thermos with hot drink 

Warm paddling gloves or pogies 

Evening and Moonlight Paddles: 

Flashlight or headlamp 

Warm non-cotton clothes 

Wetsuit, paddling jacket, and pogies available

At Columbia River Kayaking & their fleet of nice kayaks with another couple & instructor Mark Whitaker.
The 14-foot boat I got to use. I looked it up and it retails for $1,399, & the paddle was a couple hundred more. Quite a deal to use such nice equipment, have a guide, the trip planned and not have to purchase or store the boat later.


heading up the shore side of Price Island
The tandem kayak the other couple got to use. These sell for over 2 grand and are very stable and fast.
A barge that is used to ferry cattle that had broken loose and drifted aground.
Cormorants on the river side of the island on the pilings.





I gave them my camera for souvenir pictures.





FEATURES: On the edge of the Columbia River. Inland there is the 1.5-mile Skamokawa River going north or the 2 mile Brooks Slough (by the Duck Inn) heading eastwards. Once out in the Columbia, there is Price Island and sloughs through a nature reserve upstream. The shipping lane is near the north shore, but across the Columbia’s open water, there are islands to explore and the Brownsmeade area on the other side. There is no restroom at the launch, however, a large restroom is located west at Vista Park Campground and the General Store in town has limited groceries.

TIME: 1-hour Price Island and/or, 1-hour Skamokawa Creek, and/or 1.5 hours Brooks Slough, and/or 5.75 hours around Huntings Island at the Refuge upstream.

EXPENSE & PASSES REQUIRED: Parking fee is $5, kayak launch fee is $1 (now $2) payable in a box at the ramp.

DIRECTIONS: Head east from Ilwaco up the Columbia River on Highway 4, about 47 miles. The public boat ramp is on Pleasant Point Road, just east of Redmen Hall. Paid parking is across the road westbound. If you are renting a kayak, Columbia River Kayaks is located on Steamboat Slough Road just east of the Skamokawa General Store.

2 thoughts on “Skamokawa

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