The Best Kayaking Spots in the Pacific Northwest

Kayaking is such an amazing sport. It can be leisure activity on a lake, or an adventurous work out through white rapids. Which ever way you prefer to participate, it is always a great way to explore the world and see views from a different perspective that you just can’t get on land. I bought my first kayak last year, and I have been so happy with the decision ever since. Living in the Pacific Northwestern part of the United States, I’ve been blessed with some stellar lakes and bodies of water to explore. My kayaking style is more leisurely, so the danger level is pretty low for the areas I’ve explored. In my endless search for the best kayaking spots in the Pacific Northwest, here is a list of some of my favorites so far.

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1. Lake Washington

Living in the northern part of Seattle, Lake Washington is my go-to destination. It’s close to home, so it’s easy for a quick paddle after work to catch the sunset. This lake is huge, so there’s so much to explore and each day you explore this lake you see something new. You can access this lake from Matthew’s Beach Park, Warren G. Magnuson Park, and Seward Park on the west side. For access on the east side, Saint Edward State Park and Juanita Bay Park are easy access points.

2. Jetty Island Park

Jetty Island is a small island off the coast of Everett, Washington, not too far from the Navel Station. Most visitors have to take a short ferry ride to access this park, but if you have a kayak, you can get there pretty easily. I typically access the water at the 10th Street Boat Launch. You can kayak the area and all around the island, and then take a stop on the island to explore the beach and trails in Jetty Island Park. You’ll see a lot of kite surfers here, so it’s a pretty unique area to watch the various sports people are participating in.

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3. Lake Wenatchee  

About two and a half hours east of Seattle, you’ll find Lake Wenatchee in the Cascade Mountains. This lake has some of the best views. You’re surrounded by trees and mountains, and the stars are unreal at night. This is one of my favorite places for camping. At the Glacier View Campground, you can get a campsite right on the lake with private beach access. The campsites are first come, first serve, so I recommend getting there as early as possible. Close to Lake Wenatchee is the Bavarian Mountain town, Leavenworth, that’s definitely worth the stop.

4. Lake Crescent

For this location on my list of the best kayaking spots in the Pacific Northwest, we’re heading west to the Olympic National Park. Lake Crescent is a a ferry boat ride and three hours outside of Seattle. The lake itself is pretty deep, and some amazing views of the Olympic National Park. This spot is definitely one of my favorites on the list.

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5. Lake Union

This is another body of water located in Seattle, so it’s pretty easy to get to. You can access this lake from all around; I usually park at Gas Works Park or South Lake Union Park. This lake is close to everything Seattle related. So you’ll be able to see the Space Needle, the various house boats, floating planes, and the Aurora Bridge. This is a great place to explore the city and see all there is to see of Seattle without the traffic.

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6. Diablo Lake

Spanish for “devil,” Diable Lake should be on every kayakers bucket list when thinking of the best kayaking spots in the pacific northwest. The water receives run off from glaciers, giving it a greenish turquoise tint. This creates a truly magical view combined with the mountains, trees, and cliffs that surround the lake. It’s quite the drive to get to, but totally worth it. There are campsites nearby, so you can easily make a weekend trip out of this with the various hiking in the area. The Colonial Creek Campground is the best access point, and also the best campsite nearby. Make sure to add this lake to your list, the view is unbelievable.

7. Lake Sammamish

On the east side of Bellevue, right between Redmond and Issaquah, you’ll find Lake Sammamish. This lake is seven miles long with tons to explore. The water is pretty warm, so it makes a great place to stop and swim. If you’re an advanced kayaker, you can kayak from Lake Sammamish to Lake Washington through the Sammamish River that connects the two bodies of water. Otherwise, meandering around the lake makes for an amazing day. You can get access to the lake at Marymoor Park or Sammamish State Park.

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8. Lake Tapps

Lake Tapps is a huge lake with lots of inlets and curves to explore. If you’re looking for some diversity in a lake, this is your place. The shape is very curvy with lots of islands and random pieces of land, you’ll have so much to wander around. Lake Tapps Park and Allen Yorke Park are great access points for this place. This area is frequented by jet skiers, so you can expect to feel the affects of them in the water as they cruise by.

9. Coldwater Lake

Coldwater Lake is a great place to see some of the amazing history of Washington State on my list of kayaking spots in the pacific northwest. This lake was created as a result of the Mount Saint Helens eruption in 1980. At first, this was full of ash and muddy sediment. Today, you’ll see a beautiful blue lake with some amazing views of Mount St. Helens and Minnie Peak. This destination is a 3 and a half hour trip south of Seattle, and has a boat launch on the southwest side of the lake.

10. Lake Samish

If you’ve ever driven north on I-5 towards Bellingham,  you’ve probably seen Lake Samish. It’s located on the west side of the interstate about six miles south of Bellingham. This is a less popular touristy area, and a more popular to locals. Most of the lake is surrounded by private lake front homes, and spans about four miles in length. You can access the water at Lake Samish County Park.

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Safety Tips

When assessing kayaking spots in the pacific northwest, please remember that safety should be your top priority. There is no view or rapid out there worth risking your life for. For your kayaking adventures, keep in mind these safety tips:

  1. Always check weather conditions before heading out.
  2. Wear a wet suit if you’ll be in cold water – Washington State has cold water year round!
  3. Be aware of winds and currents that may make it harder to get back to shore.
  4. Never exceed the weight capacity of your vessel.
  5. Wear a lifejacket – Coast Guard regulations require that all kayaks have a lifejacket on board.
  6. Stay hydrated

 

Now that we know where to kayak, and how to be safe, get out there and start your adventures. Living in the Pacific Northwest is such an amazing place to be in for water sports, so make sure to take advantage of it. Whether you’re looking to catch some fish or rapids, you’ll have an amazing site anywhere you go in the beautiful state of Washington. Let me know in the comments below your favorite kayaking spots in the Pacific Northwest!

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4 thoughts on “The Best Kayaking Spots in the Pacific Northwest

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  • September 7, 2020 at 6:17 pm
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    Hi. Thanks so much for the list of lakes. I am retired and just getting started so I have lots of questions. Are there groups that have outings I can hook up with? Is there a list of lakes that allow kayaking? Are there any lazy rivers available for kayaking? Do you have informayion on Oregon? Thanks so much for taking the time to read this.

    Reply
    • September 12, 2020 at 9:20 pm
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      Hi Miles! Thanks for commenting on our post, glad you found it helpful. We’re not as knowledgeable in Oregon as we’re from Washington, unfortunately. But there are lots of good groups on Facebook and Meetup.com to help you make connections with people who do know. Enjoy your knew hobby! It’s a great one to pick up.

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