Story and Photos by Sandy Harris for Eugene Daily News
Are you looking to stay cool during these last days of summer? If so, you can put on your swimsuits and head down to Alton Baker Park in Eugene where you will find Northwest Canoe Tour. Northwest Canoe Tour is a small company that has an impressive supply of water craft for rent. The business stocks a fleet of eight canoes, five kayaks and five stand up paddle boards (SUP). Paddles and life jackets are supplied by the company. Ryan Allen, owner of Northwest Canoe Tour, started the business out of love for the water, the sport of boating, and is celebrating his third year this summer at Alton Baker Park.
The Alton Baker Canoe Canal is located in the heart of the Eugene/Springfield metro area. The historic canoe canal was dredged out in the 1970’s and offers boaters a two-mile stretch that meanders next to Alton Baker Park, along side the foot/bike paths, and behind the Cuthbert Amphitheater. This canal leads to the Willamette River, as well as some nice picnic spots that can be found along the banks of the shore.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) says,
“The Alton Baker Canoe Canal is a 2-mile long water diversion constructed along an old river meander off of the Willamette River. The waterway was created in 1974 for recreational boating and today provides good angling opportunities for stocked trout. Along the way there is a weir structure popular with kayakers, a wildlife viewing pond, a canoe chute, a second weir that needs to be portaged and, finally, a double pond feature that is very popular with ducks and geese.”
There are in fact three portages, requiring you to take your boat out of the water for a short walk to the next section of water.
On the tour, you may certainly see various wildlife. The wildlife range from Blue Heron fishing on the banks of the canal to fish jumping out of the water. The canal is stocked with rainbow trout. ODFW regularly stocks the trout, explaining,
“Legal-sized rainbow trout are stocked regularly at several locations along the length of the canal from February through June. The canal is open for trout and adipose fin-clipped steelhead all year.”
Ducks and geese are also a constant sight at the park. In addition, expect to come into contact with many other boaters keeping cool in the summer heat.
Stand up paddle boards are just what the words imply. They are oversized surf boards that you stand on and pull yourself through the water with a long handled paddle. The sport has become quite popular in California and is now making its way here to the Northwest. Yoga enthusiasts have been know to practice their skills using stand up paddle boards out on the water.
Two types of kayaks are offered: the “sit-in-side” style and the “sit-on-top” style. Allen suggests,
“If you are not familiar with a kayak and how it handles, I recommend the sit on top style until you become familiar with the craft and have had a few outings.”
Northwest Canoe Tour has 8 canoes for rent. They are typical of a canoe and can be managed by one person. Allen has an older model that weighs a bit more than a newer model, but he will pair you up with the boat that fits your abilities.
Northwest Canoe Tour’s boats are rented by the hour on a first come first serve basis. They are also available for 24 hour rentals. Northwest Canoe Tour offers private and semi-private lessons. You can visit their website www.canoetour.org for more information or call 541-653-7496.
Northwest Canoe Tour’s season goes through mid-September.