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Days
1
Motors Allowed?
Yes
Difficulty
Easy / Class A
Distance
7.00 mi (11.27 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Umpqua River Estuary is located in coastal Douglas County. The stretch of the Lower Umpqua River between Reedsport and Gardiner is a particularly interesting paddle into mudflats and grass areas that are hidden from view of the roads. These areas of the river are generally only accessible around high tide, and are filled with marsh grass, where you can paddle to quietly observe an abundance of birds and other animals.

In the river channel, you might expect to see ducks, loons, grebes, gulls, and cormorants, as well as Caspian terns, osprey, and bald eagles. Depending on tidal conditions, you may encounter sections and strips of mudflat along the river's edge, where you can see western sandpipers, least sandpipers, semipalmated plover, black-bellied plover, greater yellowlegs, dunlin, whimbrel, and other shorebirds and waterfowl. Larger mammals including groups of harbor seals and elk can also be observed in the area. As always, keep a respectful distance from the wildlife and do your best to leave them undisturbed in their habitat—remember, you are a visitor, and this is their home. Binoculars or a camera’s zoom lens are good tools to help you see wildlife without needing to approach and disturb them.

You can choose to start the paddle in Reedsport at this boat launch or shorten the paddle by launching at Bolon Island Tideways State Wayside. From the launch, paddle northwest on the Umpqua River along the eastern side of Cannery Island. Cannery Island is home to a large population of migrating waterfowl and has interesting small beaches to visit at its northern end. Paddling along the Umpqua channel and along the island, you will observe the large grass areas and mudflats, which have several small veins that a small boat can paddle into during high tide. Paddling into these grassy and secluded wetland channels makes the trip a unique and intimate experience.

Be aware that the Lower Umpqua between Reedsport and Gardiner is close to the ocean, so the tidal influence is quite strong. As with all coastal estuaries, the tides and wind conditions on the Lower Umpqua River can vary, so paddlers should always be aware of the tide tables and wind forecasts and plan accordingly. Planning to ride the ebbing and flowing tides can make paddling the Umpqua from Reedsport to Gardiner a little easier. If you wish to camp in the area, note that free and dispersed camping options are extremely limited on the Oregon coast. State park and county camp areas are the most available camping options, and sites can fill up quickly in the warmer spring and summer months. Make reservations in advance.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Winter

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

$5.00

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Birdwatching. Islands.

Cons

Wind and tides vary.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Put-in location (lat, long coordinates)

43.705827, -124.096566

Take-out location (lat, long coordinates)

43.705827, -124.096566

Water Temperature

55.00 °F (12.78 °C)

Features

Boat ramp(s)
Historically significant
Bird watching

Trail type

Loop

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

Yes

Shuttle required

No

Site characteristics: Water

Sound/Strait

Portage required

No

Location

Field Guide

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