This guide is the best paddling resource for the region.
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Take a Nehalem River paddle trip on Oregon's growing network of water trails
Glossary of Selected Paddling Terms. Few or no obstructions. Narrow passages that often require complex maneuvering. May require scouting from shore. The Devils Toenail can be scouted river right, just a mile down river from the Park Entrance.
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The first rapid is about a mile down the river when the river, which sweeps right, is separated by an island. Below is the Sandifur Bridge, which provides Centennial Trail connectivity. Additionally, there are bridge piers that remain from the former Union Pacific High Bridge Park trestle. Stay clear of the piers, drowning and rescues have occurred where boats and canoes have wrapped pinned to a pier. The river from here on is a remarkable setting for an urban area with few signs of civilization along the shore.
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The former Ft. George Wright is high on the left across from San Souci. The wooden structure visible above is part of Spokane Falls Community College that now occupies the former military base. You will pass under an old bridge that once carried water lines across the river and allowed soldiers to visit Nat Park.
Ahead, high on the hill on river right Pettit Drive descends to near river level. There is one additional point to get out, however, river right just below the treatment plant. This section of the Spokane River provides both spectacular scenery and rapids. But to the novice it can be treacherous and sometimes deadly.
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River users access this river reach just downstream from the T. Meenach Bridge. The first miles are either flat or class I rapids.
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Of note along the way, just below the college property for Spokane Falls and Mukagowa Fort Wright will be the pump station on river left that provides water to Fairchild Air Force Base. As the plant comes into view one of this things you will notice is the flow of water coming back into the river down a concrete slide. This is the fully treated water that returns to the river from the treatment plant and has a notable chemical odor.
At the end of the plant is a suspension bridge that carries a natural gas pipeline. To the right is also the last legal exit for paddlers — and equipment — not capable of running powerful rapids that approach Class IV difficulty.
Even expert paddlers should scout this reach closely before attempting. To get a better perspective if you have never run this rapid, stop by and take a look from the foot bridge and see how the river is forced through a channel about half what it is a quarter-mile upstream.
Again, currents want to take you there too. And the pitcher lies ahead on the left, a tall basalt column with what looks like a handle attached.