Nehalem Bay (kayak)

SA Report: Here comes the sun...any time now...

Trip date: 9/12/2013

Launch: Public ramp next to Wheeler Marina

Permit/Pass: None

Inspections: None

Directions: In Wheeler, Oregon, Highway 101 passes along the waterfront. Find Rector St. and turn west toward the water. Directly ahead is the launch ramp. After dropping off your gear, free parking is available back up on the street.

Portage: None

Type: Lasso Loop

Distance: 5.5 miles

Time: 2 hours

Rating: Easy-Moderate (factors: tide, current)

Synopsis: Nehalem Bay is a nice estuary paddle, and surprisingly wild in spite of the launch directly off the town's waterfront. Good waterfowl viewing and plenty of space down the channel to the ocean or up the river, for trips longer than the one we took. Be aware of the tides before you launch and if it's low enough to paddle through the bay keep an eye out for shallows.


Nehalem Bay


  -- We stopped in at the kayak rental shop in the Wheeler Marina and got some local advice on where to paddle. The shop owner was very helpful in letting us know about a break in a seawall just up the river (which was ebbing) where we could enter the estuary's channels. 

  -- After paddling about two thirds of a mile up-river along the west bank we came upon a row of pilings with a break in the middle. We entered the estuary and headed west along one of the several passages through the marshes.

  -- We followed the west-running channel, carefully spotting and avoiding snags and shoals. Eventually the passage broadened and opened up to the wider channel were the river turns to the ocean.

  -- Preferring a loop to retracing our float so far, we made what was probably not a great decision: we headed up-river against both the ebbing tide and the current. Having watched my wife paddle strongly against raging wind a few days earlier I was confident we'd be successful, but it probably wasn't a wise choice. After about 1.5 miles, we tucked back into a channel to the north out of the current.

  -- After paddling north a half-mile back to the spot where we entered the estuary we turned south and returned to the launch.


Photo Gallery: Oregon Coast