For those looking to get wet in Corvallis this summer, hitting the river is one of the best options. Flotillas of tubes, kayaks, and anything else that will float are regular sights on the Willamette River. Willi, a local river guide with High Country Expeditions, leads trips on the McKenzie, but acknowledges the accessibility of our local river.
“The Willamette goes year round and provides an opportunity for very relaxed water entertainment,” she says. “People float it frequently with just inner tubes. It is great for learning kayaking and rafting.”
The pace is slow, the water is cold, and the sun is hot. Perfect! But there are hazards in any river and the Willamette is no exception.
“People frequently use low-grade floating devices bought at a general superstore, and those are known to puncture easily, which creates a doubly dangerous situation: lack of flotation, and a slack object that can get caught on sticks or garbage and lead to entrapment,” says Willi.
Before you strap the pony keg to the Challenger raft think about litter and safety.
“A popular thing to do is drink while floating the river, which sounds nice, but it is easy to get carried away, and then small situations can become a much bigger problem,” says Willi.
For those lacking floaties and several hours of down time to spare, both the Mary’s and Willamette River offer choice swimming holes within walking or biking distance from downtown Corvallis.
Avery Park runs parallel to the Mary’s River and provides a few nice access points on its west side. Pioneer Park also boasts a sandy beach perfect for dipping toes or a quick plunge. Many locals take a dip at Mary’s River Park in Philomath where sharp bends and shallow depths make for a fun day. The Mary’s can become slow moving and a little stinky in the late summer, but swimmers should know that strong currents, submersed logs and poison oak are constant threats to safety and enjoyment. Plus, private property surrounds most good swimming holes, so know before you get yelled at and annoy a good neighbor.
For those looking to keep their feet dry, our local trails are finally firm and ready for riding. Eric at Bike N Hike says that their shop crew rides and maintains local mountain bike trails at Black Rock Trails near Falls City. From “circus-act kind of stuff” like ladders and jumps to meandering trails, Black Rock has something for all levels of bikers.
McDonald Forest is a great local ride or hike and it is a quick ride or drive from all parts of Corvallis. For the “best mountain bike trail experience” overall, Eric suggests Mary’s Peak—less than an hour from town and amazing biking.
Eric suggests that all riders remember helmets and gloves, cell phone, patch kit, tire pump, and plenty of water when they ride.
Where to Get the Goods
Bike N Hike: www.bikenhike.com/
– Bikes for sale plus service shop. Locally run for over 40 years.
Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club: www.wkcc.org/content/links
– Club trips, river reports, and lots of great information.
Dixon Recreation Center: http://oregonstate.edu/recsports/equipment-rental-bike-shop
– Gear rentals for members and students. Climbing, kayaking, and many other classes available for a fee.
By Bridget Egan
Local River Water Quality High
Don’t let fears of dangerous water keep you off the rivers this summer. According to an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) report released in February, the Willamette and Mary’s rivers are either good or excellent quality in our area.
Ever since I arrived in Corvallis and began trying to recruit friends for tubing, I’ve been warned about the nasty Willamette. Even The Corvallis Advocate gave the river a Fail.
While it is true that the Willamette is only ranked fair in Portland, we’re upstream of much of the mess. According to the 2013 Oregon Water Quality Index Summary Report, the Willamette in Corvallis received an “excellent” score of 90 out of a 100. The river received an 89 in Albany and a 91 in Harrisburg. Its score in Portland is 83.
Mary’s River at Highway 99 received a score of 86—still considered good by ODEQ.
The variables that go into the water quality index are temperature, dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, pH, total solids, ammonia and nitrate nitrogen, total phosphorus, and bacteria. Rivers received scores ranging from 10 to 100, with 100 being ideal water quality.
The Willamette in Corvallis is close to ideal, so grab your water craft and go enjoy our phenomenal summer weather.
The water quality index report is available online at www.deq.state.or.us/lab/wqm/docs/OWQISummary12.pdf.
By Lana Jones