- Rating: Easy
- Activity: Paddle
- Distance: 1-5 miles
Even nonbirders will be dazzled by the sight of thousands of waterfowl, including American widgeon and Northern shovelers, that arrive at Smith and Bybee Wetlands come winter. Water levels won’t be high enough for paddling until the serious rains hit again in mid- to late November, but no matter: Since the drizzle and chill keep most boaters away, you’ll likely be left alone to slice through the water close to the flocks, an experience that just might make you appreciate the arrival of our most maligned season.
ROUTE: To locate the channel connecting the two lakes, turn your boat approximately 30 degrees to the right after pushing off from the Smith Lake launch site and head toward the electrical towers in the distance. As you cross the lake, keep a close eye on the right-hand shore, where you’ll eventually spot the narrow opening. This paddle trip might be one to five miles, depending on how much shore you want to explore. To return to the boat launch, point your craft toward the blue-and-white water tower once you’ve re-entered Smith Lake.
TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS: To reach the park entrance, take I-5 to Exit 307 and go west on N Marine Drive for 2.2 miles. From here, road signs will direct you to the canoe launch at Smith Lake.