Mercer Slough SUP & Kayak Adventure

Two SUPs at Lake Sammamish Park on the grass

My husband and I recently purchased a couple of these Body Glove inflatable SUPs on sale at Costco. The flexibility and compact storage features of owning an inflatable appealed to us.  We could throw these in the trunk of the car and be on our way! I started researching some good beginner spots to try them out at.  We weren’t sure how inflatables would handle, so we wanted to go someplace with calm waters.  I narrowed it down to Lake Sammamish & the Mercer Slough.

We tested them first on Lake Sammamish.  In the beginning, I felt unstable, however, I quickly learned where to stand and got my “sea legs” back. Soon I had a big grin on my face as I enjoyed being out on the water.  After two hours, we packed up our SUPs and headed home with plans to try them out on the Mercer Slough the next day.

Stand up paddleboards on Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish

Mercer Slough Nature Park

We tried to find parking at Enatai Beach Park; however, it was around 11 a.m. on Memorial Day, so we knew our chances were slim.  We headed to find parking next to the Mercer Slough instead.  As luck would have it, there was plenty of parking at the Sweyolocken Boat Launch.  We aired up the SUPs one at a time from the back of our SUV.

During that time (about 10 minutes), I had already been bitten at least once by a mosquito.  I quickly regretted forgetting to bring bug spray.  Thankfully, a family was getting ready to put their kayaks in the water who remembered their spray.  They very generously lent me their bug spray and the dad told me that later in the year there would be swarms of mosquitoes.  So note to self, only come early in the season!

On The Water

We slid the paddleboards into the water and waded in a little past our ankles. With a slight shove off we went out from the boat launch into the slough.  We then had a decision to make, left would take us towards Bellevue and right would take us into Lake Washington.  We decided to go left and explore the canal.

The Mercer Slough is an excellent area for beginners as the water is calmer here and you are more protected from the wind due to the trees and vegetation on either side.  Additionally, only non-motorized boats are allowed in the Mercer Slough. So this made it easier to practice on our new paddleboards as no jet skiers or boats were driving by creating waves like we had at Lake Sammamish.

Mercer Slough canal and bridge

A bridge that links Mercer Slough trails

Mercer Slough Wildlife

The Mercer Slough is one of Lake Washington’s largest remaining wetlands. One of the great things about the Mercer Slough Nature Park is all of the wildlife you will see along your journey.  We saw great blue herons swooping down and catching fish in their beaks, green herons walking along the water’s edge, frogs hopping on lily pads, ducklings and goslings learning to swim with their families and turtles sunbathing.  It felt like an adventure down a jungle river rather than paddling in the middle of an urban center!  We passed multiple families and groups both in kayaks and on stand up paddleboards.  It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

Turtles sunbathing in the mercer slough

Turtles sunbathing

Getting to the Mercer Slough

Here are a couple of the places you can park to enjoy the Mercer Slough.

Enatai Beach Park, 3519 108th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98004.
This park has a swimming area off of Lake Washington as well as a boathouse that rents kayaks and canoes.  It is a great place to spend the day with the family. Plus you can access the Mercer Slough by paddling down Lake Washington a short way before entering the slough.

Sweyolocken Boat Launch, 3000 Bellevue Way SE, Bellevue, WA 98004.
This dirt parking lot has direct access to the Mercer Slough. There is also one honey bucket portable restroom should you need it.

Additionally, if there are those in your party who don’t want to go out on the water, there are miles of trails in the Mercer Slough Nature Park that they can go walking on while you SUP or kayak.  They can even wave at you along the way from various spots.

*Please note that there is construction going by parking lots at the Sweyolocken Boat Launch and the Mercer Slough Nature Park parking lot right off of I-90. 
Paddleboarding in the mercer slough

Paddling thru the Mercer Slough

Final Thoughts

Make sure to pack the following: life jacket and whistle (both required by WA law), sunscreen, bug spray, drinks, lunch or snacks (there are a couple of places along the canal you can pull your SUP or kayak out of the water to have a picnic), a hat for further sun protection, hand sanitizer and a waterproof bag to carry it all in.  Plus if you have a waterproof camera or case, there are some great picture opportunities along the way. We paddled through the Mercer Slough for around 3 hours and wished we had brought more to drink with us and perhaps some PB&J sandwiches.

There were areas in the water where the vegetation was very thick, so it was harder to paddle thru it. Kayaks seemed to have an easier time crossing the dense vegetation. I worried I might get stuck, but I just sat down on my paddleboard and passed without a problem.

The Mercer Slough is a great place to spend a few hours paddling around and enjoying the wetland’s wildlife.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy the adventure.  Check it out and let me know how you enjoyed it.

And if you’re looking for more local activities, why not check out the Snoqualmie Falls for a quick, but beautiful hike.

Happy paddling!

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