From Lake to Ocean: Siltcoos Canoe Trail

Oregon dunes as viewed from the Siltcoos Canoe Trail

Paddling through the dunes on the Siltcoos Canoe Trail.

We explored the Siltcoos Canoe Trail for the first time two years ago. It was such a memorable trip that I’ve been trying to get back there ever since. Twice we made plans for the trip, and twice they were cancelled at the last minute. Earlier this month, everything finally came together.

The Siltcoos River is about three miles long, flowing from Siltcoos Lake to the Pacific Ocean. In 2014, we put-in mid-way down the river at the Lodgepole Picnic Area/Wayside. This time, we did the whole three miles.

Boat launch at Dunes City, Oregon

Boat launch at Dunes City

To do the whole river, put in at the public boat ramp in Dunes City just south of Florence. The ramp is in a State Park and a parking fee is required if you don’t have a pass. Head to the right (south) and paddle past the docks and marina to find the entrance to the Siltcoos River.

About half way down the river, you’ll need to cross over a small dam. A very handy ramp is located on the north side of the river.

Crossing the dam on the Siltcoos River

Boat ramp over a dam on the Siltcoos River.


Keep a lookout for wild animals as the river twists and turns, making its way slowly through the dunes and estuary on the way to the ocean. On our first trip we saw both river otter and a deer making a river crossing. This trip a kingfisher guided us part-way down river.

Paddling through the beach

Paddling through the beach on the Siltcoos Canoe Trail

Now that I’ve done both the shorter trip and the full river, I can say that I preferred the full river. You get to experience more of the dunes when you start at the Dunes City boat ramp, and the upper half of the canoe trail is a pretty easy paddle.

Before you go, check a tide table for the Florence area. Ideally, you want to be heading back up river as the tide is coming in. We couldn’t do that this trip, and instead we found ourselves battling the outgoing tide as we paddled up river. It was rough going, especially for our first canoe trip of the season. Also check tide heights. If the tide is too low, you’ll hit bottom. For this trip, the low tide was at 2.6′ and we seemed to be okay with some careful navigation.

Also, remember that this is Snowy Plover habitat and from March 15 to September 15 the beach is protected to help ensure their survival. Be sure to follow the signs and stay in your boat.

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