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bei Milltown, Washington (United States)
Concerning currents and tides, both vary...a lot. I did it after many days of heavy rain, so "the tide never came in." That is to say, the river was flowing out at 3-4 miles per hour (5-7 kilometres per hour) despite an 8 1/2-foot incoming tide (somewhat high). The river banks were flooded everywhere. So, paddling upriver for the first 25 minutes was a chore, dodging into back eddies and making very slow headway. There was simply no evidence of the tide coming in. Once at the turn, near the bridge just west of Conway, I flew back downriver at over 8 mph (12 kph), without even trying very hard. I estimated the current at 5-6 mph (8-10 kph).
When I pulled right into a couple side channels in toward the core/centre of the wetland, the current died off completely. The water was very high, due to the high tide and significant river flow, and I think the entire delta was totally saturated. Despite this high water, getting through these inner channels was made impossible by floating logs completely across the channel and just above or an inch below the surface. In a few areas, I was able to get by, bot not for long. There was no way to get a kayak over these logs without exiting, and the channels were too deep to manage this easily. With a lot of gumption, one could try to climb out onto a log and then swing one's kayak over, but it just wasn't worth it, and no doubt you would be doing this many times and maybe not even get very far at all. Another choice might be to bring a chain saw. ;-)
Lower down I did find a nice, narrow but deep, windy (as in tortuous) side channel to help me cut across back northwest and shorten the ocean paddle portion of the trip. This diminished the idea of this as a complete circumnavigation of the Delta, but the exploratory bit was fun and I was overjoyed to be successful along narrower channels after hitting so many few dead-ends earlier. I would imagine this route would hold well for almost any tide, but certainly for mid-tide or higher.
At the far western extent of the paddle, in Skagit Bay, the delta's outwash area is quite shallow and i was able to cut off a bit of paddling due to the still high water even at then exactly mid-tide. The ocean portion at low tide would be a bit longer and would extend to the west a bit farther.
Returning up "Freshwater Slough" (the northwestern-most large channel) to the put-in was beastly at mid-tide and had a very strong river flow. My 8 mph (12 kilometres per hour) headway downriver was cut by more than half. Luckily, it was not too far and a few good back-eddies helped in providing rest breaks. A weak paddler might not be able to make any headway up this section with the current as it was.
On a nice day with lots of time, a lower river flow and starting just before the arrival of a high high tide, I'd rate this a moderate paddle just for distance. Unexperienced paddlers should expect at least a four-hour jaunt, and with no decent place to disembark (aka a beach or dock). I did it in just over 2 hours, but I was cranking most of the time. A better place to start might be under the bridge by the town of Conway, and head down on an outgoing tide, near to low. If you time it right, you can sit on a stump at low tide for lunch while watching the ocean, and then ride the incoming tide back up to the bridge.
Finally, and maybe in part because it was hunting season, I saw almost no wildlife at all, just two herons. During the last slough paddle I did, between San Francisco and Monterrey in the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, I saw dozens of sea otters (rafting and solo), seals, birds of all kinds, crabs, squirting clams, and more life than you could ever imagine. What a difference a marine sanctuary makes!
So, if you might like to see more life out there in Skagit Delta, support the initiative to create a Salish Sea Marine Sanctuary (salishsea.org).