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Wednesday, July 8, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Paddle season gears up

This could be you enjoying an early evening paddle on one of the region's many lakes. 
 (File/ / The Spokesman-Review)
This could be you enjoying an early evening paddle on one of the region's many lakes. (File/ / The Spokesman-Review)
Rich Landers Outdoors editor

Paddle sports are gaining muscle in the Inland Northwest. Numerous schools, clinics, tours and events sponsored by clubs, businesses and recreation departments are already on the spring and summer schedule.

The season’s first paddling fairs, which enable people from novices to experts to see and paddle different models of boats and gear, are starting next weekend.

Paddling fairs

Full Spectrum Tours of Sandpoint will sponsor its annual Paddlefest on Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille at the Sandpoint City Beach. The event features recreational, touring and inflatable kayaks. Full Spectrum has additional events and instruction during summer.

Loulou’s Sport Shop of Coeur d’Alene is holding a kayak demo day next Sunday, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., at the North Idaho College Beach on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Mountain Gear of Spokane likely will have the area’s largest assortment of new canoes and kayaks from various manufacturers plus paddles and lifejackets available to demo in the Spokane area at the June 18 Paddle Fair, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Bear Lake County Park. Organizers say they’ve moved the event this year to the lake north of Spokane because motorized boat traffic is prohibited.

The Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area will sponsor a Paddle Day on July 16 at Bradbury Beach near Kettle Falls with an assortment of canoes, kayaks and sailboards for people to try.

Guided paddling

Top sources for guided or group trips in the Spokane and North Idaho areas include:

Spokane Parks and Recreation Department has weekly group trips, with rentals available if needed, for canoeists or flatwater kayakers. Trips range from destinations such as the Little Spokane River and area lakes to multiday sea kayaking adventures in the San Juan Islands. One San Juans trip this summer emphasizes gourmet dining enhanced by wild edibles harvested from the sea.

The department staff has special canoe and kayak camping classes, and trips specifically for women, youths or families.

Full Spectrum Tours based in Sandpoint has a range of lake kayaking trips, rentals and instruction on waters such as Lake Pend Oreille and Priest Lake, plus other offerings ranging from fun in the sun for teenagers to full-moon tours, the first of which is June 22.

Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club offers groups trips for members plus boating clinics and monthly programs open to the public.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area rangers from the Kettle Falls Office plan once again to lead an overnight paddling adventure Aug. 13-14 with a campsite picked for watching the Perseid meteor showers.


Several classes offered this year are geared to honing canoe and kayaking skills that can take you through the rapids and flatwater of inland streams and lakes as well as saltwater paddling routes.

The Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club is the local paddler’s constant connection to the region’s lakes and rivers. In addition to a year-round group trip schedule, the club also offers several summer courses for canoe and kayak. New this year is a sea kayaking clinic.

The club has a “No Partner? No problem!” policy of providing paddling partners if needed during the instruction. Class size is limited and membership and pre-registration are required for these classes:

Solo River Kayaking intro, which is a prerequisite for the moving water kayak clinic, is scheduled for June 4 at Medical Lake. Cost: $25 per boat.

Moving Water Kayak Clinic for river kayaks, June 5 on the Spokane River or other waters depending on conditions. Cost: $65.

Touring Sea Kayak Clinic, for all experience levels to refine skills, June 18 at Medical Lake.

Paddling Solo and Tandem Canoes intro, a prerequisite for the moving water course, June 18 at Medical Lake. Cost: $25 per boat.

Moving Water Canoe Clinic is more involved, with two classroom sessions June 22 and 24 followed by two days of instruction on the Spokane River, July 9-10. Cost $65 per boat. This highly respected annual course recognizes there’s no half-day shortcut to learning river-running canoe skills.

The Spokane Parks and Recreation Department also has an expansive paddling program. Because the department also has kayak rentals, its programs are convenient for people who don’t own boats.

“Register by June 20 for a slot in the five-day canoe camping class that starts July 12. Cost: $129.

“May 23 is the deadline to register for the first of a whitewater kayaking clinic series that will cover beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.


June 11: RiverFest, a new event based at High Bridge Park to celebrate the Spokane River, includes kayak demos and a paddlers parade, plus a concert and other activities: Info: 459-4108.

June 19: The annual Spokane River Canoe Classic, a fun race, perfect for Father’s Day, that has various categories for canoes and kayaks, starting at 9 a.m. from Corbin Park in Post Falls. Choose from a 6-mile “citizens” run or a 13-mile “marathon” section. Everyone eligible for prizes. Cost: $15 per person. Info: Mountain Gear, 325-9000.

July 16-17: Pend Oreille River Poker Paddle. Travel 32 miles by canoe or kayak from Usk to Ione collecting cards for poker hands to determine prize winners in eight categories. Info: (509) 447-4812 or e-mail

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