It’s a bit of an adventure just finding the boat launch for this trip, which takes you from the junkyards of North Portland all the way to the Willamette River. The slough passes the landfill, now capped and covered with grass, and also connects to the signed North Slough, which is worth a side trip—the ash bottomland forest it winds through is often teeming with birds. Head all the way into the Willamette River (not recommended for novice paddlers) and you’ll be next to Terminal 5, where hulking cargo ships get their fill of grain.
GET INVOLVED: To print out a paddler’s map of the slough, or to join regular paddle trips and volunteer cleanups (held the second Saturday of each month), go to the Columbia Slough Watershed Council website.
DIRECTIONS: The launch, at 9363 N Columbia Blvd, is across from Chimney Park. You’ll have to locate the unmarked old St. Johns Landfill Road, cross the railroad tracks, and just before the locked gate, bear left on a gravel road.