Following the directions from the book, "Canoe and Kayak Routes of Northwest Oregon: Including Southwest Washington," by Philip N. Jones we did a car shuttle leaving one car in Castle Rock, WA and then driving up I-5 to exit 57 for the put-in at a public boat ramp.
The river was very swift and wide. We did the entire 13 mile route in 3 hours, and we even stopped for lunch. Swirls on top of the river sent the tail of our canoe in an unplanned direction on a couple of occasions. In a few spots the water was choppy. Beautiful scenery and there weren't very many other boaters.
Where the Toutle River joins the Cowlitz River (10 miles into the trip), the scenery changes into a post-volcanic zone and the river picks up speed again. The river is flowing very fast at the take-out spot so be on the west side of the river and be ready.
At the put-in boat ramp, there's a pit toilet. No accommodations at the take-out, but you're right in the town of Castle Rock.
A fee is required at the public boat ramp at the put-in
For the take-out:
Take either exit 48 or 49 off of I-5 to Castle Rock. Cross the Cowlitz River (West on A street), and make your first left at the fairgrounds. Public parking by the river.
For the put-in:
Take I-5 to exit 57 and follow Jackson Hwy for 2 miles. Take a left on Mandy Road, go under I-5 and boat ramp is on your right.
"Canoe and Kayak Routes of Northwest Oregon: Including Southwest Washington," by Philip N. Jones