Walking around town
If you remember reading Jane Austen’s works, or watching movies based on her works (Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility) you might have noticed the character taking long walks. Solitary walks express the independence Austen gave her characters to leave the social sphere of the houses and their inhabitants and to move into a larger, lonelier world where her women characters were free to think. Walking represented both physical and mental freedom.
Living as we do in a small town on the Columbia River and near the shores of the Pacific Ocean, many of us are used to taking daily walks in some of the most beautiful places imaginable. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise because it costs us nothing and is under our control. Make walking part of your daily routine. As inspirational writer, Victoria Moran wrote, “I believe that everyone deserves to live within walking distance of either beauty or convenience.” Here is Astoria, either one or both is sure to be true.
Living on the Astoria Peninsula, we have ready access to a number of walking trails. Among those most accessible are the following ten walks.
1. The Riverwalk is one of Astoria’s treasures. Wide, paved pathways run the entire 5-mile length of the Columbia River’s banks along the northern edge of the town. Running the entire length of Astoria’s waterfront, with access to shops and businesses all along the way, the Riverwalk is one of the most beautiful walks in town. With views north across the river to the Wallapa Mountains, the Megler Bridge, and the steady stream of life on the river, this walk has many starting points, and makes getting to town easy for those who live as far out on the trail as Alderbrook. Rated one of the Best Small Town to Visit, by the Smithsonian, Astoria provides ample opportunity for walking and hiking for locals and visitors alike.
2. Cathedral Tree Trail is another great walk. Begin your walk at 28th and Irving up towards the Astoria Column. Turn left and head east on Irving. If you drive, you can park along the road at 28th. Enter the trail at either the Trail Head at the Column, or at the Cathedral Tree near the old hotel landmark near 28th and Irving. The trail is open year round, and is about 3 miles back and forth. Wear walking/hiking shoes as the trail can be muddy at times. Watch out for poison oak and wear bug repellant if hiking near sunset (Mosquito O’Clock). There are some nice views on the trail, and is a beautiful walk in the forest.
3. Coffenbury Lake /Fort Stevens State Park
Located on the Oregon Coast between Warrenton and Hammon, Coffenbury Lake is in the Fort Stevens State Park. For an easy hike around the lake you can figure on two miles. Fort Stevens is a 4200 acre park featuring 9 miles of bike paths and 6 miles of paved hiking trails. There are also miles of places to walk along the shoreline and beachcomb.
4. Astoria Riverwalk. The waterfront Astoria Riverwalk stretches from downtown Astoria, along the trolley tracks as far as Pier 39, and then on to the Alderbrook neighborhood. The Alderbrook section of the trail splits into two parts; one part goes into Violet La Plante Park at the west end of Alderbrook, and the other fork goes across the trestles to the end of the Alderbrook neighborhood. The trail stretches about 5 miles from the Port of Astoria to Tongue Point, although access to Tongue Point on the trail, is not possible past Alderbrook.
5. Young's River Falls Trail. Youngs River Falls is located at the western fork of Youngs River falls about 65 feet, and is surrounded by a beach, undeveloped picnic area and a swimming hole used by the locals in the summer. The falls can be viewed from the parking area, or reached by a brief hike down the trail. From Astoria, take Hwy. 30 to the roundabout where US 101 and Highway 202 intersect at the east end of the Youngs Bay Bridge, head south along Highway 202 / Business 101 for a mile and a half, then continue on Business 101 where Highway 202 branches off left (straight). In another mile and a half, turn left onto Youngs River Road (101 bears sharply right before you can turn left, so stay straight at the Y intersection, then turn left at the 4-way stop immediately after). On Youngs River Road, continue another 7 1/2 miles and turn right where a sign points to Youngs River Falls, immediately before crossing a bridge over the Youngs River. The parking area is encountered shortly after, and a view of the falls is afforded almost immediately, with a short trail leading down to the rocky beach at the base of the falls.
6. Saddle Mountain Trail
Six miles round trip. Allow 3-4 hours for hiking plus time to enjoy the spectacular views at the top. Highest point is 3,283 feet. Usually open March to December. Drive to the trailhead at Saddle Mountain, the highest peak in the northern Coast Range, by taking Highway 26 to a clearly signed point 14 miles east of Seaside.
7. Fort To Sea Trail
The Fort To Sea Trail starts from the Visitor Center at Fort Clatsop. The first two miles take you up a gentle climb to the top of Clatsop Ridge, where on a clear day you can see through the trees to the Pacific Ocean. From there, you descend through deep woods and reach wooded pasture dotted with small lakes. The wooded pasture leads to the crossing tunnel under U.S. Highway 101 and near Camp Rilea. This stretch of the trail marks the beginning of sandy soil and gentle dunes and leads into beach woods before arriving at the Sunset Beach/Fort to Sea Trail parking lot. From there, travel the 1-mile path to the beach.
8. Warrenton Riverwalk Trail. Start at the new Lighthouse Memorial near downtown Warrenton, Oregon or pick up trail at Carruthers Park on the road to Fort Stevens. This trail is expanding rapidly to circle all of Warrenton encompassing the Airport Dike Trail, Fort Stevens trails and the Fort to Sea trail. Check in with Warrenton Trails Association for more on the status of the trail and for scheduled, guided walks.
9. Shively Park Trail. When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. One trail user described Shively Trail as a nice quiet place. Another found it to be deserted and in need of repair. Located right next to Astoria Middle School, you will discover an old stone arch set on columns, a relic from the Weinhard Hotel which burnt down in 1922. The arch was moved into the park at that time.
10. Historic Urban Walk. For those who don’t fancy a walk in nature as much as you do a walk back through time, take yourself on the walk about historic Astoria. http://www.oregon.com/Hike_Historic_Astoria. The historic walk takes you on a 2.6 mile walking tour of the historic town, from the waterfront to the gingerbread houses up the hill. Walking up the 150’ elevation, the walking tour is available year round, rain or shine. Start your walk at the Columbia River Maritime Museum on Highway 30 at 17th St.. For just $1.00, you can ride the Trolley for the two-mile stretch along the Riverwalk from downtown to Pier 39 and back.
Remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said about walking, “ Measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson