Pakcrafting in/around Portland,OR & Vancouver,WA

I will be in Vancouver, Wa July 7th - 22nd and am contemplating taking my alpacka. For those that are familiar with the area or live in the area, are there any good packrafting trips in the area whether it be a white water trip, easy float, or perhaps a high mountain lake? Anyone interested in putting together a day trip in the area during those dates?

I have 1 in mind but there is not much white water I believe. NE of Vancouver just outside Battleground is the East fork of the Lewis River. Could do an easy day run from Lewisville park to Daybreak park and I calculated it to be only around 5mi. Could also put in at Heison Bridge and float down to Lewisville park which I calculated to be 5.5mi.

Bring your boat. Otherwise, you’ll just be hiking. Not that that’s a bad thing around here. Given the length of your trip, I think you could stay busy, even if you had nothing else to do but packraft. Let me provide a few suggestions – there are many more possibilities. I will concentrate on longer trips but, dependent on your exact locale in Vancouver and automotive flexibility, afternoon jaunts to short creek trips and ponds along the Columbia would be easy for you to cook up.

Some of the closer whitewater trips (along the Columbia) are likely to be too wild, but some within a half hour drive would be ideal with a bike for the return, as trails along the rivers are rare and the area overly civilized. The upper Clackamas in Oregon has a trail beside it, allowing you to scout portages while walking to your put-in, but is a bit further off. Still further off, the Upper McKenzie would be a joy—a trail, a river with an ideal drop rate and both separated from the inevitable road. The lower Clackamas is less exciting than the upper, but lacks the convenient trail, thereby making it a better bike-packing trip. The lower Deschutes near the Columbia has a trail also, and easier water than the upper Clackamas or the Mckenzie; although in my opinion the trail is sufficiently flat to best be traveled with a goathead-proofed bike, many people hike, although few far, and a hike up for a day or two could readily be followed by a raft return in the PM on day 2.

Within Vancouver itself, Salmon Creek has a greenway with a parallel path, and so is good for a late afternoon trip. It also offers a unique longer trip possibility: Salmon Creek empties into Lake River, which is tidal and drains Vancouver Lake. Lake River travels north, away from Vancouver Lake, for a number of miles before connecting to the Columbia, offering the possibility of a tidal run north toward or to a wildlife refuge followed by a tide-powered run back. (Vancouver is above sea level by a bit more than the other end of Lake River, so the relative strength of the reverse flow may be a limiting factor to the run.) If you can arrange things to return to the greenway section of Salmon Creek, you could hoof it back to your vehicle miles from Lake River. (If you do this trip, I want a report. Scouting it is not convenient from where I live—southwest Portland.)

I’m not a packrafter yet and have yet to see one in use in the area, so you’ll be scouting. I’d be glad to meet you, say hello, give you a ride to a put in somewhere, and check out the preferred size of my future raft.

Thanks for the info. I was also thinking about salmon creek as a possibility, but it has been a few years since I have been in the area and from what I remember salmon creek is not wide at all, and does not have a great flow rate to it unless there has been rains for a few days. I think I will stick to the east fork of the lewis and leave salmon creek open as a plan B.