Where will your day take you? The bigger question is, will that day be enough? If adventure is your calling, dive in and head out. Kids? We have that covered, and then some. This place is over 200 years in the making, so there are lots of ways to lose yourself finding us. Yea, we know it’s a big list, so no one will think the lesser if you leave some for tomorrow. Or maybe even next time. When you’ve done all you can in Astoria and Warrenton, venture out to our neighboring communities on Oregon’s North Coast, the Long Beach Peninsula, or along both sides of the river in the Lower Columbia Region.
Cannon Beach, OR
Less than 30 miles south of Astoria on Highway 101, nine miles of wide, pristine beach, quaint accommodations and eateries invite visitors to Cannon Beach. The city is designed for strolling, and many people take advantage of this to visit the unique bookstores, shops and bistros. For hikers, there are trails to the water through the thick conifer forests of Ecola State Park. Nearby Ecola Point has a picnic area and a panoramic viewpoint of Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock and the Coast Range. This spectacular view is one of the most photographed on the Oregon Coast. A two-mile trail connects Ecola Point to horseshoe-shaped Indian Beach and a six-mile trail leads over Tillamook Head to Seaside. For more information, contact the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce at (503) 436-2623 or www.cannonbeach.org.
Clatsop County Nature Tour
Hundreds of Roosevelt Elk live in the woods behind the open fields at the Jewell Meadows Wildlife area, and they frequently stop traffic on this scenic drive as motorists pull over to watch. The refuge is located 22 miles southeast of Astoria on Hwy 202. Owned by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the 1,200-acre park contains paved parking and a viewing area with a feed wagon that visitors can ride on during the winter. It is the only park in Oregon set aside to protect Roosevelt Elk.
The Camp 18 Logging Museum, which specializes in the history of the logging industry, is on Hwy 26 near Elsie, adjacent to Camp 18, a restaurant popular with travelers. The Logging Museum displays 8- to 12-foot diameter wheels used to haul logs, steam donkeys and locomotives.
Saddle Mountain towers 3,283 feet above sea level. It offers the “big picture” of Clatsop County to those who want to work for it. The park is a seven-mile drive on Highway 26 from Highway 101. At the base of the trail, a campground offers amenities such as running water, bathrooms and firewood for campers. The trail is three miles each way. Allow three to four hours for hiking, plus time to enjoy the spectacular views at the top. At the summit, the highest point in Clatsop County, a hand-railed viewing deck offers a wind-whipped, but spectacular 360-degree panorama. On a clear day, views can span from Nehalem Bay to the south, Mt. Rainier to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west and Mt. Hood to the east. Before planning a trip, check with the Oregon State Parks office to make sure the road is clear.
Only a 20-minute drive south on Highway 101 from Astoria, Seaside is a fun family destination and great place to spend the day. Established as the Oregon Coast’s first beach resort, Seaside’s bustling main street is lined with arcades, bumper cars, taffy stands, art galleries, boutiques and various other novelty shops, with a boardwalk overlooking the ocean. Visitors can walk this two-mile stretch at dusk and enjoy spectacular Oregon sunsets, or stop into the Seaside Aquarium for a view of life under the ocean. For more information, contact the Seaside Visitors Bureau at (888) 306-2326 or www.seasideor.com.
Youngs River Falls Loop
Youngs River Falls was discovered by a Lewis & Clark hunting party roughly six miles from Fort Clatsop and was documented in the journals of Patrick Gass on March 1, 1806. The western fork of the Youngs River drops about 65 feet, with a beach, rustic picnic area and a swimming hole below. The falls can be viewed from the parking area or reached by a brief hike down the trail. Since the falls can be difficult to find, call or stop by the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Long Beach Peninsula, WA
Stretching 28 miles long and only two miles wide, the Long Beach Peninsula (just across the Columbia River from Astoria and Warrenton) offers visitors everything from bountiful fresh and local cuisine to fun and games, scenic bike trails, historical outings, peaceful walks and vistas in the many small towns that make up the region.
Fort Columbia, near the town of Chinook, provides a beautiful hillside spot for viewing the Columbia River. The fort offers a museum, a historic walking tour and trails to roam. Further up the Peninsula is the town of Ilwaco, a homeport for many local fishing charter companies located near the lighthouses at Cape Disappointment State Park, North Head and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
To the north, the ocean-side towns of Seaview, Long Beach and Ocean Park boast beautiful white sand beaches, excellent seasonal razor clam digging, various visitor attractions and a variety of excellent eateries and family dining options.
The Peninsula is bordered on the east by Willapa Bay, recognized for its oysters and tranquility. Along the bay front sits Oysterville, founded in 1854, when demand for oyster shipments to San Francisco created a booming economy. The town is now a National Historic District, and its homes remain much as they were when first built. At the northern tip of the Peninsula, Leadbetter Point State Park is a stopover for more than 100 species of birds including sandpipers, yellowlegs and sanderlings. For more information, contact:
Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau
(800) 451-2542 • www.funbeach.com
Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce
(888) 751-9354 • www.opwa.com
The Lewis & Clark Trail
In 2003, the country began the celebration of the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition. The Astoria and Warrenton region has the distinction of being the winter camp for the Corps of Discovery from 1805-1806. The Lewis & Clark National Historic Park is comprised of 12 park sites along a 40-mile stretch of coast from Long Beach, WA, to Cannon Beach, OR. Visit www.nps.gov/lewi for complete details. Interpretive markers can be found along the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
Lower Columbia River Loop
For an interesting scenic journey, take the last remaining ferry across the Columbia to Cathlamet. The two-hour auto tour heads east from Astoria along Hwy 30 to Westport with views full of natural beauty and local wildlife. There, the ferry travels to Puget Island, a quiet retreat where Columbian White-tailed Deer roam freely. From Puget Island, drive over the 409 bridge to Cathlamet. Visit the Julia Butler Hansen Columbian White-tailed Deer Refuge, which offers critical habitat for endangered White-tailed Deer, tundra swans, Canadian Geese, mallards and more. Deer and elk are easily observed and photographed from the county road that circles the mainland portion of the refuge. Visitors also can kayak, sail, drive or hike to explore the area. After touring Cathlamet, head west on Hwy 4 to the Knappton Cove Heritage Center, site of the US Public Health Quarantine Station from 1899-1938. Then continue on a couple more miles to cross the river back to Astoria via the Astoria Bridge. For more information on the Westport-Puget Island Ferry, call (360) 795-9996.