Big Paddle

Big Paddle 2024

Join Us for the 13th Annual Big Paddle!

June 1st, 2024  |  Ridgefield Waterfront

The Ridgefield Big Paddle commemorates the designation of the Lewis River to Vancouver Lake Water Trail each year on National Trails Day. 

We are excited to invite you to the Lake River waterfront for Big Paddle on Saturday, June 1st, 2024! 

Guided Hikes & Paddle

9:30AM – The BIG Paddle

Be part of the BIG Paddle on Lake River Saturday morning! Join a flotilla of kayaks, paddle boards and canoes on a five mile roundtrip paddle along Lake River to the Columbia and back to the Port of Ridgefield Waterfront. $5 BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) registration covers your entry to the guided paddle. There are limited seats available on two canoes led by Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership for $5. 

Stay tuned for registration information.

Registration does NOT include a rental. Kayak, canoe or paddle board rentals must be arranged ahead of time on an individual basis. Alder Creek Kayak Ridgefield Location is conveniently located on Lake River. 


Join the Big Paddle with a seat on a Dragon Boat for free! No experience needed, all equipment provided.

10am – Guided Refuge Hike with Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

To celebrate National Trails Day, head on a group hike led by the Friends of the Refuge from the Port of Ridgefield through the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Group hikes will take place at 10am and 1pm, no registration necessary. The Refuge will be fee free during Big Paddle.

11:30AM Guided Paddle with Alder Creek Kayak

From 11:30AM – 1PM, paddle participants will experience the sights and sounds of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, visit historical sites like where Lewis & Clark landed, and enjoy a fun guided paddle.

The guided paddle is $25 and includes kayak, paddles, and a life jacket. Reservations must be made through Alder Creek Kayak here.

1PM – Guided Refuge Hike with Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

To celebrate National Trails Day, head on a group hike led by the Friends of the Refuge from the Port of Ridgefield through the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Group hikes will take place at 10AM and 1PM, no registration necessary. The Refuge will be fee free during Big Paddle.

1:30PM Dragon Boat Paddle with Vancouver Lake Dragon Boating

Paddle Ridgefield’s big dragon boats during the Big Paddle event! No experience needed- come give dragon boating a try! All equipment is provided. One youth ages 6+ may accompany a paddling adult. Register for a free seat here!

Waterfront Activities

8:30AM – Live Music: TBD

8:30AM – 9AM - Pre-Paddle Warm-Up

Get your heart pumping and body moving before the Big Paddle with a warm-up routine.

9AM – Opening Ceremony

Awaken the Ridgefield Dragon Boats and kick off the annual Big Paddle!

10AM – 2PM Outdoor Games

Hang out and play volleyball, cornhole, disc golf, and more on the waterfront!

11AM – 2PM Kayak Check

Don’t want to worry about transporting your kayak or paddleboard to your vehicle between paddling and enjoying the waterfront activities? Or plan to get back out on the water? No problem! Take advantage of our free “Kayak Check” and drop off your kayak (open 11am – 2pm) and we will watch over your boat while you enjoy the beer garden, beach games, music, and food! When you are ready to head out, drive your car up to the station to load up!

11AM – 2PM Live Music: TBD

Enjoy live music on the waterfront.

11AM – 3PM Beer Garden & Food Trucks

Stay tuned for detailed information.

Food Trucks

A collection of food trucks will be on site at the Waterfront.

Stay tuned for detailed information.

10AM – 2PM Free Hayride

Find your way between the Ridgefield Waterfront and Downtown Ridgefield with the free and fun transportation of the hayride! Worry less about parking and enjoy the convenient ride and get both your shopping, paddling, and playing all in a days time!

Downtown Activities

First Saturday & Ridgefield Farmers Market Vendors @ Davis Park, 9AM – 2PM

Shop for vegetables, handmade goods and more from local vendors at DAVIS PARK across from the Ridgefield Community Library.

Used Spring Book Sale – Friends of the Ridgefield Community Library @ Ridgefield Community Library 10AM – 3PM

Shop for used books and support the local library at the Friends of the Ridgefield Community Library Spring Used Book Sale. Paperbacks $3, Hardbacks $5, DVDs and Children’s Books $1.a 

About the Big Paddle

The Ridgefield Big Paddle began in 2012 to celebrate the efforts of many to create this water trail resource. The first Big Paddle was on June 2nd, 2012. Big Paddle is traditionally held on the first Saturday in June as part of National Trails Day.

The flotilla travels 2.5 miles North on Lake River, past the wildlife refuge, to the Columbia River, and back to the Port of Ridgefield launch for a 5-mile round trip. This year, we are challenging you to complete a 5-mile round trip somewhere new along the Water Trail.

General Information

About the Water Trail

The Water Trail was established in 2012 and was the impetus for the first Ridgefield Big Paddle. The unique feature of a water trail is you can float along the trail, and you will not have changed that trail. It's a sustainable form of use.

The 32 river miles in this water trail include:

  • Vancouver Lake (more than 5 miles to circumnavigate), the full extent of Lake River (11.5 miles)
  • Columbia River along the west side of Bachelor Island (4 miles)
  • Bachelor Island Slough and the confluences of the Lewis and Lake Rivers (2.6 miles)
  • Upriver on the East Fork of the Lewis River to La Center (3.25 miles)
  • Upriver on the North Fork of the Lewis River to Woodland (6.5 miles)

Indigenous History

Replica Chinookan Plankhouse

There is rich history all along the Lewis River to Vancouver Lake Water Trail. Since time immemorial Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia River have called the land along the Columbia River home. The village of Cathlapotle, located on what is now the Carty Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, was one of the largest on the river. The village was excavated in the 1990s, and a replica Plankhouse was built on the Refuge as an education and interpretive center. Learn more about the archaeological site and the Plankhouse.


Lower Columbia Estuary PartnershipLower Columbia Estuary Partnership Logo

The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership joins us at Big Paddle running the Big Canoe tours and bringing some great science and nature learning opportunities in the Paddlers Village. You can learn from the Estuary Partnership at any time. Their website has a collection of activity videos to learn about science and nature in and around your home.

What Steps Can You Take to Protect Water

There is so much you can do to help protect our streams, rivers, and lakes!

  • Wash your car on the grass or visit an eco-friendly car wash
  • Pick up pet waste and be sure to know how to properly dispose of human waste outdoors
  • Reduce or eliminate lawn and garden fertilizer and pesticides
  • Pick up litter (especially along streams and rivers!)
  • Follow organizations like the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership and Watershed Alliance of SW Washington to learn more and keep up on future volunteer opportunities.

Wildlife Viewing

There are numerous opportunities for wildlife viewing along the Lewis River to Vancouver Lake Trail. The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is situated along Lake River at the Confluence with the Columbia and boasts. Learn more about the Habitat and Wildlife on the Refuge.

This video, from Alder Creek Kayak, gives a little taste of the wildlife you may see while paddling along the water trail.

Paddling Safety

Plan ahead and be prepared to safely enjoy your paddling experience.

  • Prepare a float plan. Inform others of your trip and expected return time.
  • Always wear a properly fitted personal flotation device.
  • Do not paddle alone.
  • Learn about your route in advance, especially potential hazards and emergency access.
  • Know the weather forecast. If you experience sudden temperature drops, increasing and volatile winds or darkening clouds, get off the water.
  • Carry food and water adequate for your trip length.
  • Maintain distance between your boat and objects in the water, including motor boats, which may cause waves that could capsize a canoe or kayak.
  • Position your boat perpendicular to an approaching wake.
  • Never float or paddle over a fallen tree or other obstruction.
  • Learn how to self-rescue in the event of capsize.

Paddling Etiquette

Appropriate, low-impact use of the water trail is the responsibility of all who use this natural resource and will ensure the waterways stay beautiful and healthy. Keep the following in mind while you travel:

  • Leave No Trace - Do not alter your surroundings. Leave natural objects as you found them.
  • Quietly view wildlife. Give a wide berth to any birds or animals you encounter.
  • Respect Private Property - The river is open for recreation but lands along the shore may be private or restricted wildlife refuge lands. Respect private property and posted lands and do not trespass.

Learning to Paddle

Haven't made your way into the world of paddling yet? Or maybe you want to brush up on your skills? Check out the below videos for some quick tips, or visit for even more expert advice!

Find More Instructional Videos on