An overnight paddling adventure awaits just a short drive or bike ride from downtown Portland. The paddle to Lemon Island from nearby Hayden Island on the Columbia River is a scenic route on open water. From the launch at Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe, the route takes you along Marine Drive, past the houseboats, moorages, and Portland International Airport. For those who do not have access to a kayak, Alder Creek will happily rent one. Watch ospreys, cormorants, blue herons, and their noisy mechanical counterparts take flight overhead as you paddle.
Lemon Island is the westernmost extent of the Government Island complex and the closest destination from Hayden Island. Open year round, the island is only accessible by boat. The island is owned by the Port of Portland and leased to and maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department as a Sate Recreation Area. Camping is allowed on the island below the vegetation line, and vault toilets and picnic tables are scattered around the islands.
The center of Lemon Island is densely vegetated and hard to navigate, and staying along the shorelines is recommended. The western tip of the island and the floodplain between Lemon Island and Government Island are open and easy to explore, and consequently they become crowded, especially in the summer.
The best time for paddling in the summer is in the morning before 1 p.m. due to afternoon winds. Be sure to check the predicted tidal flows, as this section of the Columbia River rises and falls with the tides. The river actually flows backwards twice a day, which may be helpful if you are paddling upstream.