We entered the water at the Smith Creek boat launch. Smith Creek runs into North River. We paddled downstream about 200 yards to where the 2 rivers meet and then turned into North River. We were greeted both days by the river sentinal, a bald eagle.
We timed it so we had about 3 hours of incoming tide to help us along. We paddled past a small, 5-6 houses, float house community. Most of the homes are for vacation or weekend use so there weren't many people stirring.
Continuing on, the land changes from sloping banks of mud to straight up rock walls. The banks of the river are lined with trees the entire trip. There are no houses or cars speeding by in the distance, so I felt like I was really out in the wilds.
The water has a few deadheads and other obstacles along the way, but they just added to the navigation fun. The trips we took lasted about 6 hours of very leisure paddling. This river is a great fishing river, so there may be times when fishermen are plentiful, but we only encountered 4 small boats in the 12 hours paddling here.
Be ready to step back in time and enjoy the solitude.
The North River Ranch is after the North River bridge, but I'm not sure what is there. Coming from Seattle, Grayland had store and gas and Tokeland is fun to visit if you have time. Raymond has all the regular accomodations.
Parking and using the launch requires a WA State use permit. They cost around $10.00 and are good for 2 vehicles for an extended period.
Directions: From Seattle
- turn off I-5 in Olympia onto Hwy. 101 which goes to Aberdeen. At Aberdeen, get off onto Hwy.105 to the ocean beaches. Continue on 105 until you see a sign for Raymond-South Bend and take that route. You will go through Grayland and past Tokeland. North River is probably less than 10 miles from the Tokeland casino which you will see. Go over the North River bridge and take the second left which is the Smith Creek launch site.
- Turn off I-5 at Chehalis onto Hwy.6. Follow that to Raymond. Turn off 6 onto Hwy. 101 at Raymond. Go about 1 mile and turn left after the bridge onto Hwy. 105. Continue on 105 for 10-15 miles until you come to the Smith Creek bridge. The launch road is right after the Smith Creek bridge.
I didn't use any maps, but now that I have been, I am going to get one just to see where I was.
River/Creek (Up to Class II)