Top U.S. Flatwater: Pacific Northwest

Black River: Washington

The Black River begins as a small stream, a tributary of the Chehalis River, at Black Lake. It then wanders south to meet with the larger river between Rochester and Oakville. The character of the Black River varies surely and subtly. Some parts are wide and slow moving, studded with lily pads as it meanders through thick woods onshore and thick pads of water lilies in the river. Then the pace picks up as the river narrows and races forward.

In short, the Black makes for a pleasant and eventful day's paddle. A major part of its fascination is its history as a route by voyageurs in the fur trade. It's hard to believe that this bucolic backwater was once one of the major commercial waterways of the west. But feed that into your Sunday afternoon reverie. Who knows, you may run into a ghost wearing deerskin britches.


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