Looking for a nice paddle to get your heart-rate up, burn some calories, test your mind? Here's one for you - a paddle in the heart of Seattle WA, from Madrona Park to Luther Burbank Park on the Northern tip of Mercer Island. This Lake Washington trip took us about 2 hours roundtrip, involved some more open water paddling, and gave us great water views of the Northwest.
It all starts with some free street parking and a little bit of a rogue put-in (map below for location).
You see, for some strange reason, Seattle city beaches (like the nearby Leschi) don't allow you to put in a kayak in the summer. Luckily they aren't there the other 10 months of the year so launching is easy, but in the summer they shoo you away. Hence our launch site for the Leschi area - at the intersection of Madrona Dr and Lake Washington Blvd, just north of Madrona Park (pictured above and below).
Our destination is a great little sandy beach, a diagonal straight-shot on the map above, to the northern tip of Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island. See sandy beach below.
The paddle took us an hour each way, mainly because we went straight across the lake. The advantage to this is, and always is, if you paddle as the crow flies you'll get to your destination faster (unless it's crazy windy or there are tides, or sharks, or something else to slow you down). The disadvantage to this method on this paddle is that you will be far from land on most of the paddle - this can get boring (remember how I said it would test your mind in the intro?) and could be trouble if you flipped or had a boat malfunction...but, as always, prepare and be careful out there and you'll do fine.
~Paul & John ETC
The Seattle summer doesn't seem complete until we pack up the gear, throw on some extra sunscreen, head east over the Mountains towards Ellensburg, and float the Yakima River.
Thing is, our launch-site at Umtanum isn't so secretive, especially on the weekends in the summer. It does have plenty of parking, bathrooms, and room to setup. The popular Washington Discover Pass, a one-time or annual pass that usually lets you park on State lands doesn't apply here though, you'll have to pay a little extra:( Drop off your people and gear here, then take two cars down river to Roza, leave one, and come back.
This is the small launch site at Umtanum, we had to wait in line to launch but it was quick and the people were friendly and having fun. After that, the paddle was on.
I'd love to give you a specific time for this float but there are a lot of factors involved in that number - time of year, how often you stop, whether or not we had a lot of snow, type of boat/tube, etc.
We floated it in late July, 2012, in our Innova kayaks (which were moving a lot faster than all the other tubes, rafts, and boats on the river that day, and we were only paddling to steer). It took us a little less than 3 hours. This being the case we felt like it was a little short, in kayaks anyway, and we'd probably shoot for a longer run next time, probably Ringer to Roza (it's a more catchy title too). If I was tubing it this time of year, the Umtanum to Roza would be perfect.
~Paul, Amber, Keith, Vic ETC
P.S. Here's a link to a great map of the entire route...
A quick little paddle from Port Townsend lands you at Point Wilson and Fort Worden State Park. Fort Worden helps form the historical 'Triangle of Fire' (sometimes called the 'Triangle of Death'), the triangular location of Forts guarding the entrance of the Admiralty Inlet/Puget Sound - once meant to protect the US during a WW naval invasion.
We left from the Point Hudson Marina, they have a nice little launch (and low to the water) and free parking close by. Pygmy Kayaks is also nearby, they make the fancy wooden kayaks you see in the photo above.
The paddle is pretty much Northward toward the point you see on the map above.
It took us about 45 mins (fighting a little wind and waves) to reach the lighthouse at Point Wilson. We kayak-sailed back (pictured below), which actually took about the same amount of time but without any paddling, just steering with our foot-rudder. I'm not sure if Captain Wifey's Kindle reading helped at all, but who knows:)
Tides and wind can make or break this trip so pay attention, pack a lunch, and give yourself about a good 3 hours plus to paddle, picnic, and explore the lighthouse!
~Paul & Amber ETC
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