Columbia River Water Trail

Water Trail?

Water trails are "ribbons of discovery that tie us to the past and present spirit of the land," writes Keith Hay in The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail.

A water trail is a stretch of river or shoreline that has been mapped and designated as a water path to cultural and natural resources. It identifies routes for canoeists, kayakers and others to follow and connect up with other recreation trails and opportunities.

Water trails have been established in Puget Sound of northwest Washington, along the Allegheny River in the Ohio River Basin of Pennsylvania, and along the Des Moines River in Iowa.

The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail was conceived on May 14, 1804, when Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Lt. William Clark -- charged by President Thomas Jefferson with finding a route to the Pacific Ocean -- embarked from Camp Dubois, Ill., on the east bank of the Mississippi River, upstream from St. Louis. They were accompanied by a 33-member group skilled in botany, zoology and outdoor survival. The "Corps of Discovery" arrived at Oregon's Pacific coast in November of 1805 and returned to St. Louis on Sept. 23, 1806.

The Lower Columbia River Water Trail -- or the Lewis and Clark Columbia Water Trail -- is a 146 mile trail that follows the Lower Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Pacific Ocean. The trail's designation in 2004 has helped identify launch and landing sites, campsites, and other facilities.


Lower Columbia River Water Trail
Website of the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership
End of our Voyage: The Washington Experience of the Lewis & Clark Expedition
Free brochure offer.
Washington State Parks Online Reservation System
Skamokawa Center on the Lower Columbia River
Offers Columbia River tours, canoe rental, kayak rental, and a shoreline B& B.
River Science along the Lewis and Clark Trail (USGS)
Washington Water Trails Association
Water Trails Directory
from Sea Kayaker magazine

The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail 
A Guide for Paddler, Hikers, and Other Explorers
by Keith G. Hay
Timber Press, 2004

The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail -- reently designated for the 2003–2006 Lewis and Clark Bicentennial -- follows 146 water miles of the explorers' route on the lower Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Pacific Ocean near near Ilwaco, Washington. This free flowing stretch of river offers opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, hiking and other forms of non-motorized recreation, as detailed in this guidebook.

Whether they are deliberately trailing the historic Lewis and Clark route or not, water travelers visiting the lower Columbia for the first time will find this book an indispensable resource. It identifies camping spots, access points, natural features and points of historical interest, including GPS coordinates for campsites used by the Corps of Discovery.

"There is no better way to learn about history than by experiencing firsthand the sights, smells, and sounds of the environment in which it was made," notes Keith Hay in the introduction to his guide. He proceeds to provide the information needed to safely and effectively explore the lower Columbia River aquatic environment while respecting its integrity.

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