Days
1
Motors Allowed?
Yes
Difficulty
Easy / Class A
Distance
6.50 mi (10.46 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 communities of Winchester Bay and Gardiner are located 4 miles to the south and 2 miles to the north of Reedsport respectively. The combined area of the three communities is referred to as the Lower Umpqua Area. The Lower Umpqua Area is approximately 60 miles from the I-5 corridor, 87 miles southwest of Eugene, 70 miles northwest of Roseburg, and 200 miles south of Portland. These coastal communities are the gateway to 40 miles of undisturbed beaches, the tallest dunes in Oregon, and the only lighthouse on the West Coast that features a red lens, spectacular sunsets, magnificent Roosevelt elk herds, abundant fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

You may choose to start this paddle here for a shortened loop. For a longer paddle, you may launch from a beach across from Umpqua Dunes RV Park. Depending on the wind and tidal conditions, there can be somewhat large swells that form in the bay. Be aware of these conditions in advance, particularly if you are not comfortable paddling in moving currents and waves. After launching from your desired starting point, paddle northeast up the Umpqua and toward the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is quite a special place. It is home to one of the largest expanses of temperate coastal sand dunes in the world. The stark, mist-shrouded views of dunes, forests, and ocean in such close proximity to one another are rare and hauntingly beautiful. Many plants and animals, including some found in few other places, call this area home. In 1972, Congress designated this 31,500-acre portion of the Siuslaw National Forest as a national recreation area in recognition of its unique and outstanding character.

In the spring, you may want to paddle to this point to bushwhack through a barrier of shrubs and trees to find an extraordinary landscape of clear and shallow freshwater pools among the large sand dunes. In the summer and warmer months, these pools are no longer present. If you continue to paddle up the Umpqua along the recreation area, you can reach a large sand dune right on the river across from A'eron Island. A'eron Island is an excellent place for wildlife and birdwatching.

Tides and winds at Winchester Bay 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 the Winchester Bay paddle a little easier. If you wish to camp in the area of Winchester Bay, 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)

Spring
Summer

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

$5.00

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Sandy beaches. Sand dunes.

Cons

Sometimes congested.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Put-in location (lat, long coordinates)

43.668569, -124.197999

Take-out location (lat, long coordinates)

43.668569, -124.197999

Water Temperature

55.00 °F (12.78 °C)

Features

Family friendly
Vault toilet
Boat ramp(s)
Wildlife
Picnic tables
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Trail type

There-and-back

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

Yes

Shuttle required

No

Site characteristics: Water

Sound/Strait

Portage required

No

Location

Field Guide

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A profound concept originally envisioned by governor Oswald West, in 1967 the Oregon legislature ultimately realized his vision of making the entire Oregon Coast forever open to the public in a piece of landmark legislation titled the Oregon Beach Bill, officially making all 363 miles public land. "The People's Coast" is truly a one-of-a-kind coastline, a unique blend of mountains and rocky stacks, towering old growth forests, marine sanctuaries, tide pools and kelp forests, charming towns, historic fishing communities, world-class golfing, breweries, and simply jaw-dropping scenic beaches. We encourage you to plan your next trip at visittheoregoncoast.com or by calling (541) 574-2679.

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