WHY IT’S GREAT While it wouldn’t be considered “pretty,” what with the warehouses and chain-link fences, this stretch of the Columbia Slough takes you into North Portland’s urban underbelly. But the middle reach isn’t all concrete and steel: You’ll inevitably spot great blue herons, kingfishers, and other creatures that make the slough their home.
ROUTE For a quick urban tour, launch from the Whitaker Ponds (you’ll find the path leading down to the slough on the left-hand side of the parking lot) and head toward the bridge. After 2.5 miles or so, you’ll reach the headquarters of the Multnomah County Drainage District (and one of the dams it manages—your cue to turn your boat around).
GETTING THERE Launch: Whitaker Ponds, 7040 NE 47th Ave. Park along NE 47th Avenue.
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.