US 101 travels lonely along Willapa Bay and forest for 45 miles between Ilwaco on the Columbia River’s mouth and Raymond on the Willapa.
Willapa National Wildlife Refuge ranger station’s parking lot and boat ramp on Long Island Slough allows access to canoe or kayak camping on Long Island, circumnavigation, and a day trip up to Diamond Point or Paradise Point north of the Naselle River’s mouth.
Looking at Long Island’s northern end at Diamond Point, you will see a land funnel for Willapa Bay’s strong north west winds between Diamond Point down to Paradise Point on the west and Sunshine Point on the east.
The wind catcher leads to and against the Naselle’s mouth. A tide gauge is available for Paradise Point, Long Island.
Tides on July 6 give a run up the slough from boat ramp to Diamond or Paradise Point and back.
Wind on the 6th was strong: 2’ waves on the slough at Paradise Point and 3’ waves on the incoming tide at the sandbar under the border of Naselle’s mouth and the slough.
In a good wind, a ‘intermediate level’ route paddles clockwise from the slough’s west side to Sunshine Point near the slough’s mouth on the east, down the east side onto the Naselle River swells then back around again on the west side eddy under the land and above Baldwin Slough.
Ready for a relaxing river trip ?
Drift down the slough with an incoming tide and NW wind. Water backs up behind slough sandbars then pours downhill over their lips giving a 3 mile down river run. Read the water, float.
The boat ramp-Diamond Point/Paradise Point trip is aesthetically pleasing through undeveloped road less forest.
A circumnavigation of Long Island is an easy day trip. Tidal shelves past the west side spit at Jensen Point lay west out more than a mile out to the channel from the bay formed by Smokey Hollow. The refuge ‘beaches’ are 100% mud on the east side, 80% mud on the west.
I tried a beach landing. Remember to leave a float plan on the vehicle.
Lake paddling when the NW wind calmed for my paddle around, the tide going out, slowly ebbing.
On the Palix, you will find a KOA at the scenic village of Bay Center 20 miles north from the boat ramp. As a local said, “that’s a great commute.” The village is a good walk or bicycle ride down the dike road and over the bridge and thru the woods to the clear cut.
Wildlife is scarce mostly eagles and crows, vastly outnumbered by the flow of Harley 74’s down 101.
If you haven’t visited the Columbia River’s mouth or Astoria try Cape Disappointment State Park camping, visit the lighthouse and jetty. Astoria has a quality museum and the ‘Column’ overlook on the hilltop above town. Views from the ‘Column’ and lighthouse are essential to understanding navigating the Mouth.
Visiting Astoria is best with a solid wind on a day filled with a mix of small puffy cumulus rain and blue sky known to NOAA-Oregon Coast as ‘partly cloudy’ or ‘30% rain.’ Interpret NOAA prediction for 30-40% rain as a nice day. Astoria has a AAA Turner Rating.
Columbia River Kayaking at Skamokawa offers a tour from Skamokawa to Astoria.