Join Us for the 10th Annual Big Paddle!

June 5th,  2021  |  Ridgefield Waterfront

​The Ridgefield Big Paddle commemorates the designation of the Lewis River to Vancouver Lake Water Trail each year on National Trails Day. In 2021, we invite you to visit the waterfront for a paddle and picnic.

Big Paddle will follow all local and state COVID-19 guidelines. This includes the amended Secretary of Health statewide order on Face Coverings. This means:

  • Masks are required in all event spaces in accordance with state guidelines. Event spaces include: Overlook Park, Picnic Area at the Waterfront/Port.
    • The following people are exempt from the requirement to wear a face covering: 1) People who are fully vaccinated against COVId-19, 2) Children younger than 5 years old, 3) People with a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental or cognitive condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
  • We have limited capacity in our event spaces to allow for 6 feet of Social Distancing between those not from the same household.

All staff, volunteers, vendors, and guests are asked to stay home if you are not feeling well, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

2021 Event

We are excited to invite you to the Lake River waterfront for a paddle and a picnic on Saturday, June 5th, 2021!


To adjust our event to fit COVID-19 guidelines, we will not be running the traditional two large paddles this year. Instead, you have two options for enjoying a paddle on Lake River:

  1. Take a Guided Paddle with Alder Creek Kayak:
    1. 9:30AM Columbia River Water Trail Wildlife Kayak Tour: This 3 hour guided tour includes kayak rental. Use the Promo Code “BigPaddle21” for 10% off the tour on Saturday, June 5th. Registration required, space is limited.
    2. 1:00PM Recreational Guided Paddle: This fun 2 hour guided paddle does NOT include a kayak rental. You can rent a kayak from Alder Creek Kayak if reserved ahead of time – use promo code “BigPaddle21” for 10% off a rental on Saturday, June 5th. Registration required, space is limited.
  2. Open Paddle:
    Bring your own boat or rent one from Alder Creek Kayak and enjoy an open paddle with your family, friends, and community. The waterfront and Lake River will be open for recreation, come enjoy the water! Flyers with key locations for a self-guided tour will be available at the waterfront. Lets make it a paddle-palooza!

Unfortunately, we are not able to run canoe paddles this year. We hope to return these experiences next year.


Swag Bags: The first 150 visitors to the waterfront will receive a Big Paddle Swag Bag! Bags will be available beginning at 9AM while supplies last. 

Enjoy a waterfront picnic! We are inviting food trucks to come and be ready to serve lunch and refreshments to fuel your day at the waterfront. We are also setting up distanced picnic tables and resting areas so you can sit and enjoy your meal while watching other paddlers. 

Dining Options:

Missing the beer garden? Grab a cold one at one of our Ridgefield taphouses!

Please note: Unlike previous years, there will be no merchandise vendors or booths located at the waterfront. A limited number of food vendors, mentioned above, will be at the waterfront. All other vendors will be located at Overlook Park alongside the Farmers Market. 

Overlook Park

The Ridgefield Farmers Market returns to Overlook Park in full on Saturday, June 5th from 9AM-2PM! 

We are so excited for the return of the Farmers Market for the 2021 season. We will also have First Saturday vendors set up at Overlook Park from 9AM-2PM.

Looking for First Saturday vendor information? Visit our First Saturdays Vendor page.

100 Miles in 100 Days Kick-Off

Join us for our second 100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge! The 100 Days begins on Saturday, June 5th. Click here to check out the challenge details.

Jump start your mileage log!

  • Paddle on Lake River to the confluence with the Columbia River and back to earn 5 miles in the challenge!
  • Visit East Ridgefield CrossFit at Davis Park from 9:30 to 1 for a rowing challenge! Row 1 mile on the rower and if you finish you will receive a FREE Fit-Aid beverage!
  • Walk from the Kayak Launch to Overlook Park and back to earn 1 mile in the challenge!
  • Hike the Carty Lake Trail to the Cathlapotle Plankhouse and back to the waterfront to earn 2 miles in the challenge and enjoy interpretive signs along the way!
  • Get a preview of this year’s Multicultural Festival with a guided walk on Division St from Main Ave to Abrams Park and earn mileage!

Thank you to all of our Big Paddle Sponsors!

Port of Ridgefield logo
Alliance Industrial Group
Karmy Law Office logo
illani logo
Acero Apartments logo
Clark Regional Wastewater District Logo

Clark Regional Wastewater District

The Vancouver Clinic

General Information

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 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.

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

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 1990s, and a replica Plankhouse built on the Refuge as an education and interpretive center.  Learn more about the archaeological site. Learn more about the Plankhouse.


Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership is usually at Big Paddle running the Big Canoe tours and bringing some great science and nature learning opportunities in the Paddlers Village. Due to COVID-19, we are not able to offer canoe paddles in 2021. But, you can still learn from the Estuary Partnership! Their website has a collection of activity videos to learn about science and nature in and around your home. Click here to check it out!

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 here.

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