A spring brook called the Wood River meanders through forests, ranchlands, and meadows. The Wood River, which is on the route to Crater Lake National Park, is a natural spring-fed habitat for a variety of wildlife as well as large native rainbow and brown trout. Along its banks, coyotes, deer, and bald eagles often fly.
You must paddle the Wood River if you like kayaking and are anywhere in the Klamath Basin in southern Oregon. With numerous lakes, rivers, springs, and swamps along the route, our kayak has journeyed with us from the rocky bays of the San Juan Islands to the calm waters of the Florida Keys. But one of our all-time favorite kayak excursions is the Wood River, which is nearby.
Over the years, we’ve kayaked this magnificent river several times, and we never get bored of it. What makes it unique? The river flows through beautiful meadows and farms after starting out as a gorgeous, crystal-clear blue spring, with the distant Cascade Mountains serving as its background. Continue to read and you will be able to
The Wood River’s Unique Beauty
The Wood River is thrilling to kayak. This is no easy float because to the rapid currents, shallow gravel bars, submerged logs, tiny tunnels, and hairpin twists. You’ll understand what I mean when you click the map to make it larger. The Wood River is that twisted blue ribbon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We certainly don’t qualify as whitewater kayakers. The majority of our expeditions include a lot of float time with lots of opportunity for bird observation and photography. We paddle in a comfortable tandem kayak. Although the Wood River has a few reasonably calm sections, for the most part, we must both paddle hard and carefully to prevent the canoe from slamming into the banks. When we are caught on (yet another) gravel bar or when we stop for lunch along the road, we do get a few chances to take a few short pictures.
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Enjoying your day with kayaking
On this ideal day in mid-October, we spotted only two other kayakers in addition to our paddling companions Linda and Steve. Along the river, birdwatching is usually fantastic. We saw Clark’s Nutcrackers, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, flocks of Evening Grosbeaks, American Dippers, Common Ravens, and Red-tailed Hawks on our excursion. (Despite our best efforts, the majority of the photographs we took either showed a blank sky or were distorted beyond recognition. Bird photography from a kayak that is rapidly moving, and rocking is mostly an exercise in futility.)
What can you catch with kayaking
The magnificent headwaters are in Kimball State Recreation Area, where we like to put in the most. If you wish to spend the night, there is a simple campsite nearby. Rocky Point Resort is another choice; it’s just 20 miles distant and offers more sedate paddling choices in addition to kayak rentals.
It goes without saying that you won’t be paddling upriver with current this strong, so make arrangements for a shuttle. We often go with companions, but we’ve also ridden back to the truck on a bike that we left at our take-out location. Kimball Recreation Area to the Wood River Day Use Area is a 4-mile paddle, although we often extend the trip by a few miles and take out farther downriver. We just scout out a decent location where the road crosses the river and arrange a shuttle from there since there is no specific site to take out.
What to anticipate?
The riverside marshes were alive with a cacophony of sounds on the short paddle from Petric Park to and past the nearby Wood River Wetlands parking area/boat launch. Some of the sounds came from wetlands rich with tall cattails, a mix of willows and bushes, and leafy clusters of locus lilies that had not yet bloomed.
A beaver dam was hidden in an inlet next to the main canal. Mark yelled at me to halt as I paddled over to get a better look and informed me that beavers sometimes attack if they feel threatened. I took note of his advice.
Western pond turtles basking in the sun side by side on a log sticking out of the water posed less of a hazard. Because of how well their drab olive shells mix in with the environment, they are simple to overlook. We were pleased to see them enjoy the sun without inadvertently paddling too near. The flocks of yellow-headed blackbirds vanished as we floated under a Wood River Wetlands bridge, seeming to change into red-winged blackbirds. They’re well renowned for tunes that include “conk-la-ree,” a brief, sharp note that develops into a melodic trill.
As we got closer to Agency Lake, the northern arm of Upper Klamath Lake, the thrills turned into thrills. The Wood River provides the lake’s main inflow, which covers 9,000 acres. The Wood slowly changed into the lake, and it seemed as if the whole body of water was suddenly shown to us. Although snowfall has been far less than typical, the Southern Oregon Cascades’ Mount McLoughlin, Pelican Butte, Luther Mountain, Devils Peak, Goose Egg, Goose Nest, and Mount Scott in Crater Lake National Park were still blanketed in snow.
Instead of just turning around, we paddled north along Agency Lake’s wetlands while taking in the surrounding scenery, including a few distant pelicans. The lake is well-known for its trout, and there were fisherman in a speedboat further out. We veered abruptly away from the lake and back into the Wood River after cutting through wetlands.
It was simple to paddle downstream past the Wood River Wetlands launch location and toward Petric. This stretch of the Wood River is renowned for its sluggish flows, in contrast to the higher parts, where the water rushes swiftly, particularly in the spring and early summer. It’s a simple paddle that novice and beginning kayakers may use.
Choosing our separate paths, our split group—with Mark constantly keeping an eye on us from behind—was unwilling to return too soon. Some of us paddled straight along the main canal, while some of us swung side to side, occasionally paddling close to the beach or cutting alongside the marshy side.
Some useful tips
- Have breakfast
It’s easy to feel hurried for breakfast since getting to the river—ideally with all your gear—involves so many specifics. But if you skip breakfast, you won’t only have low energy; you won’t be as well-prepared to withstand the cold. Spend some time making a breakfast that includes protein, complex carbs, and fruit. Consider a whole wheat toast sandwich with an egg and bacon as well as a smoothie or bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and strawberries.
- Take time to relax
It’s tempting to want to paddle every day when you have the time and leisure to do so. But just like in any other activity, your body need recovery days. Plan a day to relax if you’ve been paddling for so long that you can’t remember the last time you were on land. Sleep in, stretch, and eat well-balanced meals. Taking care of your body will enable you to paddle more effectively and further outside your comfort zone.
- Prevent or minimize hangovers
A fantastic day on the river deserves a drink or two with paddling buddies. Avoid getting overly drunk and jumping into your boat the following day if you want to improve your river running. The cognitive functioning, response speed, and memory that hangovers impair may all negatively impact your performance on the river (or at the very worst compromise safety). A hangover causes considerable dehydration in your body, making rigorous exertion seem more harder than it should.
- Use a foam roller
Refrain from settling onto the sofa after you get back from the river and instead spend 20 minutes rolling out your muscles with a foam roller. Your muscles will get smoother and longer with these simple instruments, which will improve your paddling efficiency. While foam rollers are a terrific tool to utilize while recuperating from muscular injuries, you should always seek the guidance of a physiotherapist or other healthcare provider for recommendations tailored to your condition. It’s a terrific habit to get into to improve your river running to use them before stretching.
Now you know what the Wood River kayaking experience is like. Petric Park is situated on Modoc Point Road, also known as 40000 Modoc Point Road, just north of the Wood River Wetlands parking lot and trailhead, 29 miles north of Klamath Falls. Parking, a boat launch, and restrooms are available at Petric Park, a day use area. Due to COVID-19, the restroom is closed, but the boat launch is open.