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  Olympic Peninsula flatwater padding
  Posted by: alan_gage on May-11-14 10:11 PM (EST)

Looks like I'll be heading out there this summer, maybe June but most likely mid-July). Will be driving out and then picking up a friend at the Seattle airport and then out to the Peninsula for a couple days. I'll be bringing a tandem canoe (Sawyer Cruiser) and am looking for some paddling options. Looking for something up to easy class II, or else having the ability to easily portage.

The Black River near Olympia looks really nice and will be on our way so we'll probably do a paddle there.

Last time I was out that way, quite a few years ago, I did the Quillayute river to the coast. That was a nice paddle but maybe a bit short. Can that be extended by putting in a little farther upstream the Bocachiel or Sol Duc? Access looks a bit limited above Mora Road.

What are some other options? I've tried researching it but most paddlers seem to be looking for whitewater out there, not much about flat water I could find. What about the Bogachiel around the Hwy. 101 area? What can I expect for water levels in July?

And while we're at it I'd take some hiking recommendations too. I'll have my dog along with me so that takes the National Park out of the picture but I see there is quite a bit of national forest and state land surrounding the park too. Any place with reasonable access to see big trees outside the national park?

What's going on with the Twilight thing? I heard the Forks area turned into a bit of a zoo. Any improvement?



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  Well its gonna be limited
  Posted by: yatipope on May-12-14 12:48 AM (EST)
I lived in Olympia 10 years and paddled virtually all over the areas rivers year around and July and August has very low flows on most all the snowmelt/rain runoff rivers. I would expect the Black to be pretty narrow and twisty for a Sawyer Cruiser.with late summer low flows. Certainly Hood Canal and the lakes on the penisula would be great if you were not limited to rivers. Otherwise the Queets would be a good choice. The Hoh might be another runnable flatwater river. Both have more water than any other river in late summer USUALLY.
  Posted by: alan_gage on May-12-14 10:50 AM (EST)
The Queets looks perfect, I hadn't looked into that one yet. Sounds like if you cross the river at the Queets campground there's a trail head on the other side that doesn't get much use, correct? Some people mentioned the Queets river road had been washed out at some point requiring a longer shuttle run. Any idea if that's still the case? I think I saw a blog talking about it in 2011.

Good to know about normal river levels that time of year. We'll play it by ear when we get there. If levels are too low we'll find somewhere else to paddle or just hike instead. The lakes are an option but I prefer rivers if possible.

Do you know if there's anyone in the area we could hire to run the shuttle? I'll probably have my bike along so if it wasn't too far I could just peddle it.

Thanks for the info!

  Try the Sound.
  Posted by: magooch on May-12-14 11:23 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-14-14 9:38 AM EST --

Why not give the Sound a try. In some places it has current just like a river and it is flat much of the time. I would recommend launching at the Arcadia boat launch east of Shelton. The launch and parking is very good, is owned by the Indians and it was free the last time I was there. If you're in for just a quick day paddle you can paddle around Hope Island, or if you're more ambitious, try Squaxin Island. If you're looking for some current and you get the tide timing right, try the Hammersley Inlet.

While you're in the area and if you like a good seafood buffet, stop in at the Little Creek hotel casino on 101 just south of Shelton.

If you really want to paddle a river, you could come south to the mighty Columbia. You won't need a shuttle, the current runs both ways and even if your timing isn't perfect the current is no big deal. Then there is the Cowlitz where you can put in at Toledo and paddle down to the Columbia. You'll need a shuttle on this one.

  Posted by: alan_gage on May-12-14 12:13 PM (EST)
As I was looking at the map last night I noticed the sound looked pretty interesting in that area. Don't know if we'll do it this trip but will be something I keep in mind for a later one. I've paddled it a little around Des Moines but this looks better.

My friend has never been to the Olympic Peninsula and only has a few free days, including travel from Seattle. When she's there she wants to see the coast, big trees, and moss, so I'm planning to stick to the west side. Paddling isn't a priority for her (kind of is for me though) but she does enjoy it and I thought a river trip would be a great way to see the forest while keeping out of the main stream of other tourists. The Queets looks almost perfect, if water levels work out, since it flows through an extension of the national park and sounds like there is some old(ish) growth along the river.

As for rivers over lakes. It's not so much the current but the feel I prefer. I like having a bank close by on either side and not being able to see what's around the next curve. The current is a plus as well since it adds some paddling challenges. That and the lack of motorboats and people in general on the small ones I paddle. I can get tired of paddling the same lake repeatedly, not so with a river.

Thanks for the tip on the Sound.


  Totally understand the "river thing"
  Posted by: yatipope on May-12-14 4:32 PM (EST)
The whole time I lived in Olympia (actually Lacey) I paddled all over the Peninsula, I paddled the Hoh, Queets, Calawah, Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Dosewallips, Satsop, Wynoochee and some of their forks on numerous occasions but never paddled any Lakes or salt water. The lure of rivers is irresistible. Yes the Queets is the best bet because its glacial melt will most likely have enough water to paddle while virtually ALL the other rivers will be too low. Queets campground is where to start and its been years since the road was damaged so it may require a little beforehand calling around to find out its present status.. I recommend contacting the Olympic National Forest headquarters.
  Queets Road
  Posted by: alan_gage on May-12-14 5:35 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-12-14 11:54 PM EST --

Did a little more research. Sounds like there is now an upper and lower Queets road. The lower road stops at Matheny creek where the landslide occured. The upper is accessed from Hwy 101 a little farther east and runs to the campground and extends down the river to where the old road was destroyed.

One of the reports from the forest service said that in 2006 another storm badly damaged the already closed road and made it impassable for even pedestrians. Don't know if that's still the case or not, I'll find out later. If still passable on foot I'd just bike shuttle. Otherwise I'll try to arrange some other way to shuttle.


  Bike Shuttle-absolutely
  Posted by: yatipope on May-12-14 10:31 PM (EST)
ALL my canoe trips involved bicycle shuttles because it provides exercise, good alternative photo opportunities and sometimes great wildlife sightings. Right On!!
  Horizontal or vertical?
  Posted by: pikabike on May-12-14 12:47 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-23-14 1:49 PM EST --

Big trees, that is. Giant logs wash up all over the beaches here. If you mean vertical--as I assume--Olympic National Forest will have those. Watch out for logging trucks; they haul ass on narrow roads.

You can bring dogs to the NF and most areas of state parks, but they have to be leashed in the state parks, and you must clean up if he/she poops.

Flat water doesn't seem to be that common, but I don't know the rivers well enough to say for sure. If you don't mind lakes, maybe go to Lake Ozette? I have not been there, but it's huge and maybe you can get your giant trees, slow rivers, and lake in one area.

Everything in Forks has signs about Twilight this-that-and-the-other. This winter, though, Forks became more famous (infamous) for the neglected-dog hoarding facility. That guy has disappeared, seemingly into thin air.

UPDATE: Steve Markwell is ba-a-a-a-a-ck in Forks again, probably starting more hoarding ops.

  Oly paddling
  Posted by: ppine on May-23-14 1:45 PM (EST)
By summer the rivers on the Peninsula are mighty puny. They tend to be full of woody debris and sweepers. The water is cold. I would suggest L Ozette or Quinalt.


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