Easy paddle trip up river and back again. Put in is on Foster Reservoir, just before it goes under the bridge & becomes the S. Santiam River. You can park right by the road or drive down an access road to another put in farther from the bridge.
Foster Reservoir can be busy with water skiers, jetskis and people just fishing or swimming from their boats. It's a short paddle to the bridge. Once past the bridge the speed limit is slow, about 5mph, and the water becomes still. While cars up on the highway are always within earshot, they're hard to spot from the river.
The river flows through a canyon with rocky walls that plunge down into the water. Here and there you can hear small waterfalls cascading down the canyon walls, but they can be hard to spot in all the foliage. Everything is green - plant life above and the water below. We usually see ducks and other wildlife. For the most part we have the place to ourselves and maybe a few fishermen. Upstream there is a nice area to swim or practice maneuvers with the kayaks. Eventually you will come to a small rapid near a rocky beach. This is as far as we've gone.
I don't know the distance, but it's probably a leisurely 3 1/2 hour trip with stops for lunch & relaxing. Returning in the afternoon, the reservoir will have even more folks out on the water. Sometimes you can catch a nice wake to play in.
Water is a very short walk from the parking area. As of this date, it looks like they keep a porta-potty available.
Food and supplies located close by in Foster/Sweet Home.
No boat ramp. There is a road that goes down to the water, but it is gated.
From I-5 take highway 20 through Lebanon and Sweet Home. Go past Foster dam. The left turn for Green Peter and Sunnyside Park is just a bit farther. Parking is at the intersection just before crossing the bridge, and easy to spot.