Seaside Stories

Grant’s Getaways: Paddling the Neawanna in Seaside

July 30, 2015 | by Grant McOmie

If our summer heat wave is getting the best of you – sapping your energy and leaving you feeling generally uncomfortable, perhaps it’s time for a cool retreat at a place you’d least expect: the backyard of one of the Oregon Coast’s most popular towns. (Watch the complete episode here).

I recently enjoyed a short and gentle kayak trip for folks of all abilities and surprise: I felt a million miles away paddling from city hub-bub on the Neawanna (nee-uh-wanna) River near Seaside.

“I think bringing people back into the center of themselves is important,” said Josh Uithof, a river guide who works for Kayak Tillamook. “So getting people out on the water allows them to experience nature and discover something they didn’t think they could do.”

The beauty of travel in a canoe or kayak is the serenity you discover as you realize there’s no such thing as a bad day on the water. Neawanna River flows into the greater Necanicum Estuary where the scenery is never twice the same!

Josh’s co-guide, Jodie Dodge, prepped and led our small party of paddlers along the short three-mile trip that reaches from the freshwater to the ocean. “Kayaking brings you back to nature being on the water – it’s a place we all lose in our busy worlds so you just take a deep breath and relax and enjoy,” she said.

It’s easier than ever for more people to escape their busy worlds thanks to a new ADA accessible boat launch. The $60,000 kayak and canoe launch was paid for through a partnership between the local Necanicum Watershed Council, the city of Seaside and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Restoration and Enhancement Board.

Watershed Council member Melyssa Graeper said it replaced a dangerous dock whose time had come. The new launch opened to the public in March and it’s been a boon to the community. “People love it – there has been tons of use down here so far – way more than we had with the old dock – lots of families with young kids down here too.”

After you launch, keep watch overhead for an osprey nest that rises above the launch more than 70 feet. The nest has a unique feature to it too: you can peer into the nest online thanks to a new web cam sponsored by the Necanicum Watershed Council.

Back on the water, Jon Rahl with the Seaside Visitors Bureau said that local folks are excited at the prospect of more people visiting Seaside and they are seeing it from a different point of view. “We know that they come here for the beauty of the beach but when you add an asset like this – an accessible asset like this – that is one more enhancement to the travel experience.”

Darren Gooch, the Sunset Empire Park & Recreation Director, agreed and offered, “I see more and more folks who thought they couldn’t do it before now have the opportunity to paddle and feel more comfortable about getting in and out of the water.”

“And you don’t have to be in the best shape,” added Utihof. “You get out here and get into places that no one else can really see – it’s great that it is so accessible too.”

And after all, that’s really what it’s all about: discovering a timeless place with few folks around and feel closer to nature.

Editor’s Note: Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

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