|The photographer fishes at Dune Lake|
Florence is located at the end of Highway 126, which heads westward from Eugene. Highway 101 passes right through town on its way from Newport to Reedsport. This article explores the lakes north of town; we will cover the southern portion in a future post.
|Baker Beach Campground|
About half a mile down 101, watch for Alder Dune Campground. There are two small lakes here; not surprisingly, they are Alder Lake and Dune Lake. The southern year-round camping loop is situated near easily-accessed Dune Lake, and it includes a few RV-friendly sites (no hook-ups). There is also a day-use area at this lake, with the usual fee for non-campers. It is easy (though certainly not necessary) to launch a small boat here and access the entire lake for fishing. This is also the trailhead for Alder Dune Trail, which meets up with the Sutton Trail system. Peaceful Alder Lake has seasonal camping. This lake is not quite as easily accessed; a float tube might be helpful for fishing. Both lakes are stocked with rainbow trout several times a year. This whole area offers good wildlife viewing for those willing to hike its forests and dunes; click here for an excellent trail map. Camping here is usually a bit quieter than at the campgrounds south of town, where broad sand dunes attract ATVs and toy haulers by the dozens.
|Between the pools of Sutton Lake|
|In the second pool|
|Near the historic marina|
|Gazebo overlooking the old ferry landing|
Florence is one of our favorite year-round destinations; if it's too windy to paddle, there's plenty of fishing. If the fishing is lousy, we can go to the beach. If the beach is too windy, there are numerous hiking trails. If it's just too wet and miserable to be outside, we hide out in the shops. There are dunes to climb, horses to rent, and a delightful history museum, all in the friendly coastal town where the Suislaw flows into the sea.
Cold Weather Paddling Safety
We are often asked, "Why would you paddle in the winter? Don't you get cold?" The first question has a whole list of answers: fresh air, exercise, peace and quiet, fewer powerboats, abundant wildlife. As for the second question, winter paddling is just like any other winter sport. Dress properly for conditions and you will not be cold. A quick internet search will provide plenty of information on proper clothing (we aren't the only ones on the water!). To sum up, though, don't dress for the air temperature, dress for possible immersion. In other words, microfiber, fleece, neoprene, and wool instead of cotton. If it's a chilly day, consider a splash top and pants if you don't have a drysuit. Wear a hat. Bring gloves or pogies. Bring your skirt if you're kayaking; you'll be glad of it when (not if) a shower blows in.
|Rugged dunes on the north side of Florence|
|Baker Beach Campground|
|Trail to Sutton Campground|
|Carnivorous Darlingtonia Lilies at the Darlingtonia Natural Site|
|Disused ferry landing at Old Town|
|Under the Siuslaw Bridge. Stay safe out there, and we'll see you soon for Part Two!|