A trolley runs though it.
A river runs alongside it.
Welcome to the Astoria Riverwalk.
This is great a Family Fun ride along an old RR right of way on the Astoria waterfront. The trail starts on the west side of Astoria, half way down Pier 1 (which is made ground), over on Young’s Bay at the entrance town. It runs 6.1 miles to end on a trestle near the sewage lagoons on Tongue Point. Further would be nicer, but there is not much interest in touring the wastewater treatment plant. That’s just the way it is.
Before you go riding, there are two things you should do. First, ride the trolley. Second, visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum. On second thought, ride the trolley, ride the trail, then do the museum. Otherwise you will find you spent your ride time in the museum. The spacious museum parking lot is a good trail head and there is a trolley stop there.
@@@ THE ASTORIA RIVERFRONT TROLLEY
This is a Must Do. Take the restored 1913 trolley which runs down 2.6 miles of the trail. It’s a great way to see the sights. There are a number of covered trolley stops along the route. This runs during the summer and costs a dollar for a round trip. For two dollars you can ride it all day. For the SmartPhone crowd, there is a website which shows the real-time location of the trolley and its direction. This makes it handy to catch the trolley.
The Smart Move is to trailhead at the Maritime Museum, catch the trolley there and see the waterfront, then ride the trail and visit the museum.
PIER ONE - TRAIL END WEST, GE: N46.18623 W123.86518
The trail has been extended to a turn around half way down the outer side of Pier 1, which is several acres of made ground by Young’s Bay. There is a small parking lot and you can trailhead here, but there are better options mid-trail. We will start the ride here and head towards Tongue Point.
From the trail end head down the pier to hit the RR grade behind the motel with a boat yard on the other side. Your next stop will be …
THE TROLLEY BARN, GE: N 46.18610 W 123.85822
This is the home of the restored trolley you see cruising up and down the trail. The last station is further east, so the barn is not included in the ride. Another 0.3 miles down the trail is a Port of Astoria parking lot which can be used for access. Ahead is the bridge over the Columbia and below the bridge is the…
THE GRAVEYARD OF THE PACIFIC - THE MEMORIAL PLAZA, GE: N46.18987 W123.84943
Here beneath the bridge are a series of walls with memorial plaques to the seamen who have died in these waters. The Columbia River Bar is titled “The Graveyard of the Pacific” for very good reason: it is. Almost two thousand wrecks litter these waters. To view the bar, head for Ft. Stevens State Park – and nine miles of bike trails.
This coast is a dead lee shore and a dangerous one to navigate. From San Francisco to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, there is not a single all-weather harbor of refuge. The harbors are set in the mouths of rivers with breaking bars. When the weather makes up, you are on a lee shore and the bar is probably breaking and impassible. You have few choices, all bad.
If you wish to trailhead here, there is a small parking lot. Across the tracks is part of Old Astoria – the Suomi Hall of the Finnish Brotherhood, estb. 1886. There is a trolley station here.
RIDING THOUGH THE OLD ASTORIA WATERFRONT…
Just around the bend from the memorial the trestles start. Much of Old Astoria was built on piles over the river. The trail goes through this history. You share the trestles with the trolley, so be prepared to pull over or out run it. Should not be hard to do.
The first sight is a set of plain white warehouses – full of salmon. When a brand wants x thousand cases of their brand - here is the fish. Just add a label and sell. And you wondered if there was a difference between Brand X and Brand Y. Sure is – the label.
Ride on – those piling you see were once canneries, net drying sheds, dives, rowdy groggeries and other waterfront businesses. Now there are restaurants and such. Notice the red stucco & brick building with the iron fire doors. Fire was always a concern on crowded wharfs atop flammable pilings. Just beyond is an observation tower for river viewing. It was closed in June 2011 because a fire had destroyed the adjacent set of shops. The ruins were still there at that time.
THE BAR PILOTS, GE: 46.189637 -123.825877
The bar pilots have been here since before Oregon was a state. As you ride on, take a note of the new quarters of the Columbia River Bar Pilots Association (1846). Their old station has been converted into commercial space and they have moved upriver towards the museum. Keeping up with the times, the pilots have commissioned a new chopper to join their pilot boats.
The old (1964) pilot boat Peacock is on display further along. She accommodated 12 pilots and crew. Take a look at it and visualize yourself standing on the deck there, preparing to make a leap for a ship’s accommodation ladder in the middle of a howling winter gale off the bar.
Sound like fun work? Being lowered by chopper has its attractions. In the Old Days, they were rowed out to meet the ship. Doesn’t that sound aerobic?
Just beyond the Pilot Station you will find one of the delights of the coast, the ...
COLUMBIA RIVER MARITIME MUSEUM, GE: 46.189464 -123.823014
(Insert superlatives here.)
This is a Must Do attraction. Just break down and do it. Here also is plenty of parking and a trolley station, so it makes a good trailhead for your exploration of Astoria.
Upriver of the museum the pilings and wharfs fade away and the ride is along a landscaped river front with interpretative signage at intervals.
@@@ SAFEWAY STATION, GE: N46.19290 W123.80848
The Safeway is a good commercial trailhead with a trolley station below the store. Plenty of parking, restrooms in the store, snacks on offer for your expedition, a warm, dry spot out of the rain, etc. What is not to like? The rain? Quite so.
TRAIL END EAST – ON THE TRESTLE, GE: N46.19835 W123.78314
Here is the end of the trail. Ahead is a block on the trestle. Ahead is the wastewater treatment plant. The trolley turnaround is far behind you. There is a lagoon to one side and the river to the other with field of broken piling. Time to retrace your ride to your trailhead. Time to go back to that cafe/brewery you saw near the salmon warehouses for some food and drink. Time to go.
Reading all the interpretative signs along the way.