The Columbia Slough is a nearly 20-mi chain of narrow waterways and ponds that stretches almost continuously from Kelly Point (at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers) to Fairview Lake in Fairview. Metro and the City of Portland have restored this urbanized landscape so that it now supports river otters, painted turtles, dragonflies, and more than 170 species of birds. The best season for a paddle trip is late spring, when the woods are buzzing with life and water levels are still high. By mid-summer, water levels drop and aquatic vegetation can make paddling difficult. Additional access points to the Columbia Slough include Site P4, and a canoe launch and trail at 166th and Airport Way (next to the Portland Water Bureau’s pumping station) which features a pond with waterfowl, and woodlands that host songbirds. For a longer paddle trip, you can launch at Kelley Point park, at the far W end of Marine Dr (W of P1) from which you can paddle up the slough, or out into the Willamette River. A guide for paddlers and canoeists is available from the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (www.columbiaslough.org).
Directions to Columbia Slough Trailhead and Launch at 16550 NE Airport Way: From NE 148th and NE Sandy Blvd go N to Airport Way. Turn R on Airport Way. Watch for green sign, turn R at sign and proceed to small parking lot.