Pulling our kayak (by bike) from Tigard to the Tualatin River
As our soggy spring rain stopped and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, I started thinking about another kayaking adventure on the Tualatin River. Hauling a kayak to the dock by bike from the county line between NE Tigard and SW Portland can seem like a daunting task with a twelve mile round trip and 600 feet of climbing.
Make it a tandem kayak behind a bucket bike with a 6 year old in front and it gets even more interesting!
We converted an old child’s bike trailer into a kayak hauling machine by lengthening the tongue and adding a bracket to hold the front of the boat to the tongue. Our bike has electric assist and great stopping power with 4-piston disc brakes front and rear. The kayak tows remarkably well. Width isn’t much of an issue, but turning radius is a consideration since the bike, trailer, and kayak are 25 feet long. Not something I would take on the Fanno Creek trail which has some sharp turns near downtown Tigard. The most direct route is to drive on SW Hall Blvd (State Route 141).
There has been a lot of news about the jurisdictional transfer of ODOT facilities lately. The stretch from SW Hall Blvd through Tigard is the one I follow closely since we cross it on our bike trip to school. It is in a terrible state with deteriorating asphalt, sporadic sidewalks/bike paths, high speed limit (40 near our school!), numerous drain grates in the bike path, and constant debris. The current 217 widening will require replacement of the SW Hall Viaduct near SW Pfaffle Street. The new bridge promises better walking/riding/cycling safety but it’s still a painted bike path in the designs.
I hope that with the transfer of skills, this path will improve. Luckily, I use it often, so I know the quirks: take it easy at the railroad crossing near SW Commercial as there’s a big bump in the asphalt; watch the drivers in the S-curve near the skate park, they tend to drive in the painted bike lane; there’s a ton of debris near the Tigard Library; an owner blocks the right-of-way with his garbage cans near SW Bonita. We should need that level of expertise to navigate to the river!
Even carrying that long load, it’s not that bad. Turning SW Durham past Tigard High School and taking SW 92nd towards Cook Park is an option. The other is to stay on Hall (which becomes SW 85th) to the Clean Water Services treatment plant. This leads to a wide multi-use trail that also takes you to Cook Park.
Wayfinding isn’t great at Cook Park and many drivers get lost trying to find the boat launch. Study the map as there are even more ways to turn around on paths and trails. It’s so nice not having to worry about parking when kayaking on a bike. “Front row parking every time” is so true that we unload our kayak on the grass right next to the boat ramp. There are no bike racks, but there are plenty of poles/trees to lock onto. I also lock the trailer to the bike.
Once on the water, we started looking for turtles to sunbathe with no success. By taking litter pickers we usually find some litter, giving the child something to look for and do. Walking along the shore offers some shade, but the midday sun can get intense! Two miles of paddling and the kid is usually done. It was time to get out of the water and hit the playground on the way back. Cook Park’s advantages over many parks are plenty of trees for shade, plenty of bathrooms, large picnic shelters, and a public supply for e-bike charging.
Related: Get in the water on a bike at one of these pedal-to-paddle destinations
We drove Hall Blvd home as I was planning to stop for groceries. Could I find kayak parking at Fred Meyer? Would the bike be safe if I took two parking spaces and locked it to itself? Wave Racks would be even less useful with this long charge. Thinking it best that I didn’t risk it, we took the kayak home and went shopping later. Although now that I think about it, we could probably fit a lot of ice cream in the kayak!
Thanks for reading about our adventure!
Shawne is a prolific urban cyclist who has covered thousands of miles on his e-cargo bike, often with his young daughter in tow. He lives on Portland’s southern border with Tigard and is a member of the City of Tigard’s Transportation Advisory Committee. Follow his adventures on Twitter @RescueEwe