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Klamath Marsh Water Trail in Oregon

Trip Overview

Spent three days paddling around the Klamath Marsh NWR, northeast of Chiloquin, Oregon. The southeast portion of the marsh is a place called Wocus Bay -- a finger jutting out of the main part of the marsh. (Wocus is the native name for the yellow pond lily, common throughout the West. It was a major food source). Wocus Bay is open to canoeing. The rest of the marsh the tules are too dense to travel through.

The canoe area is a veritable maze of channels and openings in the tule reeds. We had a blast just trying to see how narrow an opening we could navigate. More than once we had to paddle in reverse after hitting a dead end. There was no room to turn around. Then we had a few "uh-oh. Exactly how did we get here?" when trying to get back to open water through the many branches and side channels in the labyrinth. The tules are too tall to see the immediate landmarks on shore. (hint: have a GPS and compass handy. All those channels look the same when backtracking).

Lots of waterfowl and songbirds. We saw what seemed to be hundreds of ducklings all in tow behind their respective mommas. Ruddy Ducks, coots, mallards, western grebes, mergansers. Many Forster's terns. A couple of cormorants, great blue herons and pelicans. Lots of tadpoles in the water. A large colorful variety of dragonflies and damselflies, and aquatic insects. I tried to key out as many as I could, but I couldn't specifically identify more than half of the bugs. An active bald eagle nest was near the canoe launch point, and one day an osprey kept circling us and occasionally gave us a close flyby. It was a heat wave so we paddled only in the mornings until it got too hot. The water is too mucky for swimming.

The access road to the canoe launch is rough dirt. A regular pickup truck or SUV-type vehicle has no problem, but I did not want to take our camping trailer down there. The FWS does not allow camping at the canoe launch, but there appears to be camping allowed just a 1/2 mile south of the launch (signing is ambiguous). We dispersed nearby on Winema National Forest land.

Accommodations: Adjacent National Forest is open to dispersed camping.

Outfitting: 16' canoe

Fees: None

Directions: See this website:

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing, Stand Up Paddling, Kayak Fishing, Fishing, Hiking, Biking, Photography
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water, River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip