These Calm Waters Made Our Kids Love Kayaking

Visiting these calm waters is the perfect way to introduce your kids to kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. Check out these 10 family-friendly spots, and don’t forget your life jackets and cash for parking, plus some extra snacks to keep your kids cheerfully paddling along.

Lost Lake, credit Meg Asby


Henry Hagg Lake
With plenty of parking and a large no-wake zone, Henry Hagg Lake is a great spot for new kayakers. It is generally pretty busy here. Near Gaston, OR.

Cedaroak Boat Ramp
If you’re looking for a safe, nearby place to kayak on the Willamette, Cedaroak Boat Ramp in West Linn is a great place to try. While the views might not blow you away, there is a protected no-wake cove near the boat ramp where kids can swim and paddle without worrying about the big boats on the river. Parking is limited, so get there early. West Linn, OR.

Scappoose Bay
Scappoose Bay is a peaceful site, with lots of opportunities to bird watch. You can rent kayaks here from Next Adventure. There is also a large parking lot. Warren, OR.

Rooster Rock State Park
Another peaceful place to kayak, Rooster Rock State Park on the Columbia River has plenty of parking and great views. (Stick to the west side if you want to avoid the clothing optional beach.) Corbett, OR.

Lost Lake
If you want to seriously wow your kids with a spectacular view, Lost Lake is worth the drive. There are no motorized boats allowed on the lake, and there are lots of former campsites along the lake’s edge that make a perfect, secluded picnic spot when you take a break from paddling. The boat ramp area is quite small and a trek from the campgrounds if you plan to camp. There’s a well-stocked general store and gift shop, where your kids will definitely want to buy ice cream. Most days of the week there’s a coffee bar and you can order a burger or sandwich. They also offer kayak rentals if you don’t have your own boat. Get there early for a good parking spot and to snag one of the lakeside picnic areas. Cascade Locks, OR


Lake Merwin
This is another stunning lake worth the drive, but be sure to load the car early to get parking at this one. Enter at Speelyai Bay Park for the larger parking lot. Cresap Bay is another great spot to enter the lake, where you can access a no-wake area between Lake Merwin and Yale Lake. Woodland, WA

Yale Lake
If you’re looking for clear water and a view of Mount St. Helens, Yale Lake is a great spot. Enter at Saddle Dam Park. Ariel, WA.

Vancouver Lake
Vancouver Lake is a short drive from Portland, and has a sandy beach and lots of parking. It’s a shallow lake, so the entire lake is a no-wake zone — perfect for young kayakers. You can kayak to an island on the northern half of the lake for some great birdwatching opportunities. Check for algae blooms before you go, as this lake is prone to them. Vancouver, WA

Trillium Lake
For spectacular views of Mt.Hood, check out Trillium Lake. It is another non-motorized spot, ideal for paddling. This site is very popular, so be sure to arrive early. Government Camp, OR.

Detroit Lake
This nine-mile lake is located in Detroit, OR, which is recovering from wildfire damage from a few years ago. The lake itself sustained minimal damage and is still beautiful, and a fabulous place to kayak. Detroit, OR.

Marcus Asby
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