What do the Umpqua, Coos, Coquille, Rogue and Chetco rivers have in common? In addition to all terminating at Oregon’s South Coast, they offer year-round paddling, wildlife viewing, birdwatching and fishing opportunities. Each one is featured in a new series of free paddle guides produced by the Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA) and Outdoor Project.
“Each of these waterways have a lot in common, but they are also very distinct,” says Dave Lacey, South Coast destination development coordinator for OCVA and co-owner of South Coast Tours. “Parts of Rogue and Chetco are federally-designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the Umpqua, Coos and Coquille flow into wide-ranging estuaries as they near the sea. Interest in paddling these rivers has been increasing. With the release of the South Coast Paddle Guides, we’re hoping to help people have a safe and fun experience on the water while also raising awareness about best practices to use while exploring these fragile ecosystems.”
The South Coast Paddle Guides will soon be available online as well as in print at local visitor centers and businesses. They are printed on waterproof paper and include detailed maps showing public boat launches, picnic spots, bathrooms and campgrounds as well as points of interest such as wildlife viewing areas. They also include contact information for local resources, a gear list and safety tips.
“Many people visit the South Coast seeking exercise, adventure and scenic beauty,” Lacey says. “Similar to the South Coast Fat Biking Guides, the paddle guides help people explore our waterways in a safe and respectful way. We are also hoping to drive interest in paddling on the South Coast though a video, Paddling the South Coast, which will be released in late spring/early summer.”
This spring and summer, OCVA and South Coast Tours are hosting a series of free, community paddle events on the Coquille River. South Coast Tours will offer free shuttles to the public boat launch for each event as well as bring gear — kayaks and stand-up paddle boards as well as safety gear — for rent.The community paddles are open to beginners and experienced boaters alike and are a great way to meet other paddlers, Lacey says. Last year, some community paddle events attracted 80 to 100 people. The first one of 2019 is Saturday, April 27 in Coos Bay. It will be followed by the World Tour Paddling Film Festival at the Egyptian Theater.
The proposed Coquille River Water Trail, which would span from Myrtle Point to Bandon, is one of the driving forces behind the recent enthusiasm around paddling on the South Coast. When complete, it will be one of the longest water trails in Oregon with some of the most unique boat-access-only accommodations. Over the last two years, OCVA worked with the National Parks Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program to develop an action plan for the trail.
The Coquille River Water Trail and the South Coast Paddle Guides will help boost economic development in river communities and the surrounding region while increasing opportunities for people of all ages to get outside and be active on the river. Outdoor Project and OCVA hope the South Coast Paddle Guides will be so popular that they will inspire other regions on the Coast to consider investing in a similar resource.
South Coast Paddle Guides
Photo by Erik Urdahl