The Blalock Canyon to Arlington downwind run is the premier eastern Gorge downwinder. When the conditions set up for a run out east, this is the one to do. It’s a spectacular ten mile run through a very wide open stretch of the Columbia, with a long fetch and no canyon walls to disrupt the wind. When the wind is on out east, the swells are big and smooth and there’s less cross chop than in the central and western Gorge.
Here’s the setup. Take the Blalock Canyon exit (129) and go under I-84 towards the river. When you get to the railroad tracks, turn right and go down to the little old boat ramp. Put in there
and paddle east in the little lagoon till you come to the culvert that goes under the railroad tracks. Paddle through that and voila! you are in the Columbia and if it’s cranking, you are in for a heck of a ride.
The takeout is not very straight forward the first time you do it. Arlington (on the Oregon side) is about ten miles up river and is visible by the grain silos. There is a rock jetty sticking out into the river and if it’s really windy, there will be waves breaking into it, throwing huge spray and looking a little intimidating.
You need to paddle around the jetty and then hook a hard right into the entrance to the lagoon. Continue paddling east, go right under the railroad tracks and then up to a nice lawn area at the Arlington beach park.
Pat yourself on your back and high five your buddies. Hopefully you just had an epic eastern Gorge downwinder. Want more? Call us at 888-509-4210, visit us in Hood River at 207 Front St. or drop by online at www.bigwinds.com.