The Cowlitz River is well known as one of the most popular salmon fishing destinations in the state and you are more likely to see jet boaters with fishing gear than paddlers out for a float down the river. This section of the river is forested with evidence of some minor rural development along the river. There are a few rapids and while there is nothing above class II, high flows and swift currents typical throughout the winter make this a reach that should not be taken lightly.
I ran this stretch on Sunday, 19 August for the first time when the flow was about 3000 cfs. This was a great level. I only scraped the bottom once, and that was because I took the wrong channel. I ran this in an inflatable kayak (Tributary Tomcat Tandem) with no problems. The rapids were very easy Class II. I saw lots of people out in Intex inflatable rafts and recreational kayaks with no sprayskirts, and they seemed to be fine. There were not a lot of strainers, but there were about three places where the current would pull you into a strainer if you let it. One in particular was on a curve to the left, where the current pulled strongly to the outside under a low-hanging tree. Fortunately it's easy to avoid, as long as you're alert.
This is my new favorite river in the immediate area for solo floats.
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Lower Cowlitz River
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