Paddling the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail

-- by Sandi Komarow

Sycamore Islander, August 2002

In spring and fall the Klamath Basin region is a resting spot for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. Our time on the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail was in summer, scheduled around a work trip and a visit to our daughter in California, so we missed the vast numbers of birds. Nonetheless the pleasures were many.

Southeastern Oregon in July is very hot and dry, guaranteeing blue skies and very low humidity. (It may be hot but it's not Washington heat.). Jeff and I rented a canoe at Rocky Point, an old-time resort that has an atmosphere much like Sycamore Island. We were given the usual paddles and life jackets for our canoe, and then the less usual whistle should we get lost in the marshes.
On our first visit we headed south into Pelican Bay. There we saw geese and grebes and sure enough, pelicans. We followed the trail into the marshes where yellow-blooming water lilies were in full bloom. Known by their Indian name of wocus, these lilies have foot-long leaves and large flowers whose seeds were collected by the natives of the area and used as a staple source of food. Redwing blackbirds and dragonflies in abundance accompanied us as we paddled for hours in the marshes enjoying the scenery, the wildlife, and the surprising lack of mosquitoes. We found our way back with no need of the whistle.

Our second day on the canoe trail was July 4th and to our delight the theme for the day was eagles. Once again we rented a canoe at Rocky Point but this time we headed north between the shore and the marshes, four miles to Malone Springs. Tall cedars, pines and firs lined the shore and near the top of one tall tree we spotted our first bald eagle. Perhaps a mile later we spotted a second eagle, larger and poised for flight. We watched him take off and soar over the lake in circles until we could no longer see him. After picnicking at Malone Springs we returned, making three more eagle sightings along the way.
The day was topped off with an excellent display of fireworks in a park near the town of Klamath Falls. A fine fourth of July indeed!

Information on the canoe trails of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges -- complete with sound effects -- can be found at:

Sandi and Jeff Komarow are prominent members and frequent visitors to the Island.