Our Kayak Trip around Hayden Island

Eight miles may not seem like a long distance, but for two people who’d never kayaked that distance ever before, it was quite the long haul.

Last weekend we finally planned for our kayaking trip around Hayden Island. We’d been wanting to try this excursion for a while, and thought Memorial Day would be a good day to try out our arms and shoulders on this eight-mile paddle. Have I mentioned that it’s eight miles? I just wanted to make sure I had.

Here’s some background info on the island (or islands, if you want to get technical about it, since Tomahawk Island really was one, before the two islands were connected at some point). Hayden Island was named Image Canoe Island by Lewis and Clark when they first passed it, back in 1805. Here’s a snippet from The Journals of Lewis and Clark for the reason behind that name:

 . . . we proceeded on met a large & a Small canoe from below with 12 men the large canoe was ornimented with Images carved in wood the figures of a Bear in front & a man in Stern, Painted & fixed verry netely on the canoe, rising to near the hight of a man two Indians verry finely Dressed & with hats on was in this canoe passed the lower point of the Island which is nine miles in length haveing passed 2 Islands on the Stard. Side of this large Island, three Small Islands at its lower point the Indians make Signs that a village is Situated back of those Islands on the Lard Side. and I believe that a chanel is Still on the Lrd. Side as a canoe passed in between the Small Islands, and made Signs that way, probably to traffick with some of the nativs liveing on another chanel, at 3 miles lower, and 12 Leagues below quick sand river passed a village of four large houses (Mu/knomans) on the Lard. Side, near which we had a full view of Mt. Helien [St. Helens] which is perhaps the highest pinical in America . . .

As for how Tomahawk Island got its name, here’s a snippet of that, from a very disgruntled Captain Clark:

. . . dureing the time I was at Dinner the Indians stole my tomahawk which I made use of to smoke I serched but could not find it, a Pond on the Stard Side off from the river. . . .

We began preparations the evening before: Jared made sandwiches, I pulled out the hats, dry-wick towels, rashguards, and sunscreen. The following morning we embarked on our journey after slathering on sunscreen and donning our hats. We decided to hug the shore, so we took what we like to call Beaver Alley, where we met up with old neighbors who had recently moved their house to a moorage where you own your own slip. We chatted a bit, and then were on our way earnestly. The current was definitely not in our favor, and once we passed Island Cafe, it got harder to paddle. Slowly but surely, we made it to one end of the island. Rather than kayaking around the stumps, we just got out and dragged our kayaks on the sand.

We made it to one end of the island.

We headed West, and the current greeted us by helping our kayaks glide faster up the Columbia. We passed Hayden Bay, Red Lion, and the I-5 bridge.

Almost to the Interstate Bridge.

3_i5 bridge 2 blogIn just a little while, we’d reached the Columbia River Railroad Bridge.

4_train bridge 2 blog 5_train bridge blog

At this point, we were passing where we’d thought we’d have our lunch, but it was only 11:00 a.m. or so, so we kept going. We saw a lot of goslings—we’ve barely seen any in the neighborhood this Spring—an angry osprey who warned me when I got too close to her nest, and a bald eagle.

Get away from my babies!


Good thing we didn’t pick the turkey as our national bird.

We kept kayaking and kayaking, but the other end was not in sight. I was thinking that I should have perhaps looked at a map beforehand to see just how much more there was to kayak. We finally got a glimpse of the giant container cranes at Terminal 6, while we passed by monstrous barges connected to each other, moored in the middle of the river.

We also kayaked by a few cargo ships, like this one.

Time for lunch. We’d hoped to make it to the end of the island, but no such luck.

After what seemed ages, we finally made it to the other end of the island. We made another stop to have a quick look around, and then proceeded to turn for home.

Jared’s way to get back on the water: The Kayak Scoot.

Terminal 6

Once we made the turn and proceeded toward home, it took a while for us to see the train bridge and realize that we still had a ways before we got home, so we made one last stop at the last bit of beach left before civilization for rehydration and sunscreen reapplication. We got home at around 1:30. We did the entire island in about 4 1/2 hours, with multiple stops to check out the beaches. We were told it would take about 3 1/2 hours. All in all, not a bad adventure, one we’ll most likely do again.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *