If you’re visiting the Mt. Hood Territory communities of Oregon City, West Linn, Milwaukie or Lake Oswego, you’re lucky enough to have the Willamette Water Trail within a half mile of downtown, offering convenient access to restaurants, shopping and paddling activities all within a quick walk of each other. And while there's a bit more space between the river and downtown, Canby, Gladstone and Wilsonville all offer prime opportunities within a quick drive or longer walk or cycle to play on both land and water.
The Willamette River is a cornerstone of Oregon, flowing 187 miles from Eugene to Portland with many twists, turns and surprises along the way. In Mt. Hood Territory, the river plummets over iconic Willamette Falls, an important fishing and trading site for Oregon Tribes and a site of early industry, including the first long-range power transmission.
But the Willamette River is more than a scenic backdrop or piece of history. It’s ripe with recreation opportunities from quick stand-up paddleboard (SUP) outings to multiday paddle and camping trips. The Willamette Water Trail ties these recreation experiences together into a series of itineraries that span the length of the river and connect to several bustling Mt. Hood Territory communities. In addition to detailed itineraries and maps, the Willamette Water Trail also offers safety tips, permitting information and outfitter listings, so you can be sure you have everything you need to explore the river.
The first step to your adventure on the Willamette River is deciding where you’d like to go! With 187 miles of diverse river terrain, that decision can be intimidating. The Willamette Water Trail offers river itinerary ideas, from multiday river camping adventures to day trip excursions. Mt. Hood Territory is the home of two unique Willamette Water Trail day trip itineraries. Click the itineraries below to plan your paddle, including navigational tips and safety alerts.
Before you can hit the water, you’ll need to make sure you have all of the required gear and safety equipment. Check out the Willamette Water Trail gear checklist to make sure you have everything you need. First and foremost, all water recreators in Oregon are required to have a personal flotation device (PFD), and most watercrafts must have a Water Access Permit. For detailed information on watercraft and safety requirements, visit the Oregon Marine Board's page for non-motorized paddlers. If you're planning to venture onto the banks of the river, Oregon State Parks Greenway lands offer public spaces to explore.
Don't forget to exercise good stewardship as you share the river with others. Keep an ear out for motorboats, which need deeper water to safely operate and pass. When you hear an approaching motorboat, paddle closer together in groups. Here are things you "otter do" to stay safe while exploring.