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Posted: 08.22.2018



FOR MOST OF US OFFICE-BOUND DREAMERS, two days on the couch does not a weekend make. We need to get out of town and most importantly, on the water. Unfortunately

, the weekend exodus is easier to dream about than pull off. Food, gear, safety, space, and comfort are all factors that must be considered to make a trip go smoothly. But with a little organization, forethought, and motivation, a weekend on the water is only a few steps away.

1. Pick the right spot. It sounds obvious, but it’s absolutely crucial. This will determine what you need, who can go with you, and how far you need to travel.

2. Commit early. You’re either going or not; the same goes for your friends. Make the decision at least a week in advance and start planning. It also gives you something to look forward to.

3. Pre-organize. Having all the necessary gear well-organized and ready to pack from your shop, garage, or closet makes things easy. You know what you need and where to find it.

4. List it. Keep a checklist for paddling trips and mark off the essential gear as you throw it in the car. Also, make a grocery list with easy, pre-planned camp meals. And pack the night before so you can bug out right after work on Friday, or early on Saturday morning.

5. See the future. If you’re going to run a shuttle, can you drop a car off at your takeout on Thursday night? Little forethoughts can save you time and give you precious extra moments on the water.

6. Plug in. Use the Internet: weather, campsites, logjams, road conditions. Smartphone apps like RiverGuide can help you check real-time flows.


Portland, OR.

Spot: Short Sands Beach

Drive: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Lowdown: Head to Oswald West State Park and hike a half-mile through the forest for some of the best surf kayaking in Oregon, complete with old-growth spruce, black sand beach, and consistent, wild waves.


Boise, Idaho

Spot: Payette River

Drive:  45 minutes

Lowdown: The Payette offers a little something for everyone. Try the South Fork’s Helende Section for fun Class II and III whitewater. You’ll never outgrow this drainage: The North Fork is renowned for its 15 miles of continuous Class V rapids. 



Spot: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Little Gabbro Lake

Drive: 4 hours, 45 minutes

Lowdown: A half-mile portage from the parking lot takes you to a small pike lake that funnels you deeper and deeper into a watery rabbit hole full of walleye and smallmouth bass. During the spring, you might even spot a moose, or wolf tracks.


Jacksonville, Fla.

Spot: Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia.

Drive: 1 hour

Lowdown: Spend the weekend in a canoe or sea kayak searching saltwater coves and inland swamps for colonial ruins, loggerhead turtles, and migratory birds.



Spot: West River, Vermont

Drive: 3 hours

Lowdown: This area is a pick-your-whitewater-fantasy. Choose Class III and IV runs on the Rock River or Class V action on the Adamson. It’s all within a 15-mile radius of classic Vermont countryside.


San Antonio

Spot: Devils River

Drive: 3 hour, 30 minutes

Lowdown: Expect Class II and III rapids on one of the cleanest and most remote rivers in Texas. Plan for a two- or three-day canoe trip to cover the slow-moving 50 miles.


Sacramento, Calif.

Spot: Sacramento River, Red Bluff area

Drive: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Lowdown: A shallow stretch of mellow Class I and II rapids ideal for trout (upper river) and salmon (lower) fishing at the end of riffles.


Canoe & Kayak – Will Taylor