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Astoria Riverwalk Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mural, Pier 11 (bobcat)
Anchor at the Columbia River Maritime Museum (bobcat)
The Astoria Trolley, Astoria Riverwalk (bobcat)
California sea lions, East Mooring Basin (bobcat)
The Astoria-Megler Bridge, Astoria (bobcat)
The Riverwalk route (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Smith Point TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Alderbrook Lagoon
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 12.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 0 feet
  • High Point: 10 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, in the central section

Contents

Hike Description

Using the Burlington Northern right-of-way and spanning the entire Columbia River waterfront of the historic City of Astoria, the first American settlement on the West Coast, this trail takes you from the busy port area, underneath the four-mile Astoria-Megler Bridge, past shops and pubs, a marina and a converted cannery, to a final, quieter stretch as the old rail line crosses the mouth of Alderbrook Lagoon and approaches Tongue Point. An exotic way to do this hike is to make the return trip using the Astoria Trolley, picking it up at the last stop, the East Mooring Basin (Memorial Day to Labor Day; $1 fare).

The stretch of track began as the Astoria & Columbia River Railroad in 1898 but soon came under the ownership of the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railroad. It was operated primarily as a logging operation-to-port line until the 1990s, when the city decided to invest in the tourist potential of the old waterfront area.

From the trailhead parking, you can walk left along the trail a little way. There are views of the mouth of Youngs Bay, the Youngs Bay Bridge, and operations at the Port of Astoria. Then one heads back with the bay to the right. The trail makes a 90-degree turn to the left with a hotel looming above. It crosses Hamburg Street and Portway Street, passing the Astoria Trolley garage. From this point, the trolley line parallels the trail. To the left are Port of Astoria facilities and three piers. The path passes the West Mooring Basin and then the Cannery Pier Hotel. In front of the hotel, there's a covered exhibit of a gillnet boat. From here, one crosses under the Astoria-Megler Bridge, passing a small memorial park. Looking to the right, one can see the buildings of the historic Uniontown-Alameda District. An interpretive sign here gives information about the 14th Street Ferry, which preceded the bridge. There are views across the Columbia to the low hills on the Washington side, four miles away.

The trail crosses a trestle and bikes and pedestrians have to use pullouts if a trolley is coming. Enter the waterfront business district with its Viewing Tower: there are almost always sea lions in the river here. Now you are walking on planks next to the trolley line. The trail passes Pier 11 and a Bornstein Seafood facility. On the right are the Wet Dog Brewery and a display of murals. Then, the paved path goes by the river pilots' and the bar pilots' offices. At the Columbia River Maritime Museum, you can choose to visit or simply admire an anchor outside on display and a lighter docked for the paying public to explore. Out in the river, you may see several freighters waiting for their river pilot.

On the right is a mounted Columbia River pilot boat and then one passes the old railroad depot, which in its last rail iteration hosted occasional excursion trains from Portland. Now it is a "living history" extension of the Maritime Museum, the Barbey Maritime Center for Research and Industry, which offers classes and demonstrations on maritime topics. Next is the newly developed Mill Pond area, with its colorful modern houses around a circular bay. There’s an old cannery out on a pier to the left then there’s the Comfort Suites Hotel and the road to the East Mooring Basin. You can go out on the causeway to see the fishing boats and the California sea lions loafing in the sun: in 2015, there were over 2,000 sea lions in Astoria, a ten-fold increase over the previous five years. Next, the trail reaches 39th Street. One can go left here to walk around the Hanthorn Cannery out on Pier 39. Here you'll find offices, a pub, and the small free Bumble Bee Cannery Museum. The trail continues east, crossing the face of Alderbrook Lagoon on bridges. The large building on wooden pilings in the lagoon is Alderbrook Station, once a salmon cannery and now a venue for catered events. On the bridges, the trail is on the river side of the tracks, but as soon as one reaches a dike, the trail switches over to the land side. Eventually, one reaches the end of the trail well before Tongue Point.

You can return along the waterfront the same way you came, with the option, in season, of picking up the Astoria Trolley once you reach the East Mooring Basin. Another option is to make a loop around Alderbrook Lagoon, walking south from the trail end to Alder Street, then 53rd to Birch Street, below the Mott Basin area of the city. Walk west on Birch to 47th, take a left on Cedar and reach LaPlante Park. From the park, pick up a trail that leads along the wooded, brushy shore of the lagoon and rejoins the Waterfront Trail near the Hanthorn Cannery.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash

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Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Rail-Trails: Washington & Oregon by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • Best Rail Trails: Pacific Northwest by Natalie Bartley
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and the Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

More Links

Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.