Spend the dog days of summer with a paddle, a board, and some cool water. 

Paddleboarding, once the new kid on the water sports block, is nigh on taking over our waterways these days, with Oregon’s ubiquitous lakes and rivers boasting no small number of SUPers (standup paddlers) this summer. So what’s the attraction? As an entry-level water sport, it’s relatively easy to learn, can help build fitness (and allegedly, abs, though some of us are still awaiting the much-promised definition in that area), and affords amazing views of whatever slice of natural life you decide to explore. 

The boards themselves come in various formats that range in portability—inflatables are often lauded as the easiest to lug around—and price, but the good news is there are plenty of perfect paddleboard spots around where you can rent your board and take to the waters without having to navigate the complications of board transport. Worth noting too: If you’re new to the sport and want a few primers on how to navigate paddleboards, a number of places offer classes for beginners, among them REI, Cascadia Sup and Surf, and Next Adventure.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, stand up and slide out—or take things up a notch with SUP yoga. Your time has come paddle boarders—stand up and be counted.

Willamette River at Ross Island

Enjoy Portland from a brand-new vantage point as you paddle along the Willamette River. Grab a rental paddleboard at Portland Kayak Company and launch it right there at Willamette Park. Head upriver toward the Ross Island Bridge, then take an approximately four-mile loop around the island. Watch out for the wakes from passing boats—especially on the west side of the island. You’ll want to spend most of your time on the east side and head out earlier in the day to avoid most of the powerboat traffic. Keep an eye out for wildlife on Ross Island, too; you might catch a glimpse of blue herons and osprey.

Scappoose Bay

Just about half an hour north of the city, this Columbia River bay offers up stretches of water with islands and off channels that make for some sweet water-based exploration and lots of bird watching. Next Adventure rents paddleboards at their Scappoose Bay Paddling Center from $18 an hour, with interested parties urged to call ahead and reserve a board. A reminder: You must have the ability to transport the board once you rent it.

Hood River 

Lots of big water around these parts, which makes Hood River a prime locale for paddleboarders, kiteboarders, windsurfers, kayakers, whitewater rafters, and just about anybody with an interest in watersports—not to mention the wealth of things to do and places to visit in town and across the river in White Salmon. Check out Hood River SUP and Kayak for rentals, lessons, and morning and sunset tours. There’s also Gorge Paddling Center, Big Winds Hood River, Hood River WaterPlay, and more. 

Trillium Lake

Through early October, Mt. Hood Outfitters rents paddle boards at the Trillium Lake Dam beach for as little as an hour or as long as a day. Enjoy the Mount Hood views and the tree-lined lake as you paddle its glassy waters alongside trout fishers and kayakers. Looking for a more structured experience? Mt. Hood Outfitters also offers two-hour paddle boarding tours on select dates.

Lost Lake 

Whether you’re just visiting for the day, camping in a tent or a yurt, or living luxe in a cabin or resort room, we think paddleboarding is a must-try on every trip to Lost Lake. Through mid-October, you can rent a paddleboard (life jacket included!) from the resort’s rental shack. Nervously paddle yourself out on your knees into the middle of the super-smooth, motorboat-free lake, then stare at Mount Hood to keep yourself anchored as you attempt to stand up for the first time. In the event you get tired while paddling across the massive lake, we recommend lying down on your board and taking in views of the mountain. While you’re paddling back to shore, you may even catch a glimpse of the fish and salamanders below.

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