Take-out. Use Nighthawk along the banks of the Similkameen River as the take-out if you are willing to do a car or bike shuttle. Reach Nighthawk by continuing north on the Loomis-Oroville Road. From the put-in on the north end of Palmer Lake to the bridge at Nighthawk is about 4.3 miles.
One-way trip going from Palmer Lake to Palmer Creek to the Similkameem River to Nighthawk:
+Paddle Palmer Lake to its northwestern end. Palmer Creek starts from a swampy protrusion into this end of the lake that has lots of floating weeds and lilies. This discourages motor craft from entering palmer creek but is no problem for paddlecraft. Enter the creek (which has some current in periods of high water but virtually no current in mid to late summer) and paddle on. The creek basically heads north but does so in the most convoluted fashion possible as it twists back and forth like a snake slithering through the grass.
About 2.1 miles after entering the creek, you’ll pass under a bridge (Chopaka Road). This is the turn around point if you want to actually return to Palmer Lake. If paddling on to Nighthawk, however, go under the bridge (very small riffle) and in another half mile or so notice the Similkameen River on your left, merging with the creek.
+Paddle onward and downward on the Similkameen River and in another 3 miles or so, pass under the bridge at Nighthawk (first bridge since Chopaka Road).
+Take out on river left on the downstream side of the bridge.If you don’t want to shuttle a car and wish to return to where you put-in:
1) Paddle a big loop around Palmer Lake. Paddling the perimeter of the lake is about a 9-mile circuit. Frankly, the western shores of the lake are wilder and prettier than the eastern shores so you may want to paddle up and down the lake on its west side.
2) You can paddle Palmer Lake to Palmer Creek and then paddle about 2.1 miles down the creek until the bridge formed by Chopaka Road crossing the creek. Turn around here and paddle back to the lake and the car. In mid to late summer there is almost not current in the creek so this is not difficult paddling.
Distances: South end of Palmer Lake to Nighthawk (10 miles); north end of Palmer Lake to Nighthawk (6.4 miles), perimeter of Palmer Lake (9 miles).
Difficulty: Easy flatwater paddling on Palmer Lake and Palmer Creek. The Similkameen River has a swift current (especially in early summer) but has no rapids before Nighthawk.
Fitness: 2 (intermediate).
Maps. See our topo map.
Permits. A Discover Pass is needed at the put-ins.
Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Do no damage and pick up trash left by others.
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.
This post was originally published 8/18/14.