Windows on Woodland – Smoothing out the Bumps

By Pat Nelson

Valley Bugler Columnist

Smoothing out the Bumps

A post on states this about the Martin’s Access boat launch on the Lewis  River: “This is a pretty good launch site downstream from Woodland.” Well, now it’s more than just “pretty good.”

In August, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the ramp for renovations. The WDFL installed a new boat ramp and upgraded the previously bumpy, rutted and dusty parking lot to include paved accessible parking. Some people wondered why the launch had to be closed during the summer months. According to Shane Belson, WDFW access coordinator, the agency had to work around favorable tides, and was only allowed permits to work in the water at certain times of the year. The boat ramp was closed during construction, but the area remained open for fishing from the bank and for swimming.

Occasional closures will continue for paving through September. During closures of the boat ramp, boaters wanting to gain access to the nearby Columbia River may do so via Lake River by using the Port of Ridgefield launch at the Ridgefield waterfront. Daily permits are available at the Port of Ridgefield boat launch. See the WDFW website at:

My husband and I have walked our dog at Martin’s Access for the past six years, and during that time, we’ve met many other dog walkers there. The nearby dike is a great, flat place for joggers, bike riders or dog walkers, with the Holland America Flower Gardens on one side (sometimes with colorful flower fields in bloom) and the scenic Lewis River on the other. Some evenings, fabulous sunsets glow while we walk along the dike. At other times, we walk down a short trail from the parking lot to the beach, and throw sticks into the river for our dog to retrieve. Families often picnic, fish and swim along these sandy shores. Anglers fish here for Coho and Kokanee salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout.

This area can also be a bird-watcher’s paradise. When the smelt run and the seals and sea lions frequent the river, we have seen as many as 18 bald eagles at one time soar above the river. In late summer, we snack on sweet blackberries picked along the trail to the beach. In winter, we sometimes see ice form at the river’s edge. It is a magnificent spot to visit in any season.

Martin’s Access is located three miles south of Woodland. Take Pekin Road past the Holland America Flower Gardens. At the end of South Pekin Rd., turn left onto Dike Road. Drive to the end of the road to walk along the dike at your left, or launch your boat on the right. Go straight ahead to the end of the parking lot to reach the walking trail to the sandy beach.

The recent renovations have smoothed out the bumps, and this just might become one of your favorite outdoor-recreation spots.

Pat Nelson, is co-creator of three humorous and sometimes edgy anthologies: ‘Not Your Mother’s Book: On Being a Parent’ ( & retailers); On Being a Grandparent; and On Working for a Living.

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