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Netul River Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Lewis and Clark River (Tom Kloster)
View to the Astoria Column from the Netul River Trail (bobcat)
Boardwalk among the Sitka spruce, Netul River Trail (bobcat)
Trail near the kayak launch, Netul Landing (Tom Kloster)
Map of the Netul River Trail
  • Start point: Fort Clatsop TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Netul Landing Trailhead
  • Trail log: Trail Log
  • Hike type: In and out
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 45 feet
  • High point: 45 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: On sunny weekends


Hike Description

In their search for a winter camp in December 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition paddled up a wide tidal river the locals called the Netul. They found a good landing spot for their large canoes at Netul Landing, and established Fort Clatsop on higher sheltered ground about one mile north. The Netul River is now the Lewis and Clark River, and Netul Landing is the terminus for the 146-mile Lower Columbia River Water Trail, which begins at Bonneville Dam. An easy, flat universal access trail leads from Fort Clatsop to Netul Landing along the bank of the Lewis and Clark River. Look for ducks and bald eagles as well as swimming nutria and mink in the adjacent South Slough. Log pilings attest to the area's former use as a "wet sort yard", where log were assembled into rafts and floated downriver. There's a large display on the Lewis and Clark Expedition at Netul Landing.

After paying your entrance fee and enjoying the Visitor Center, walk out to restored Fort Clatsop. You'll pass a bronze statue of Sacagawea. This one is a replica of the statue that once stood at Netul Landing. Thieves stole the original statue in January 2008 and broke it up in order to sell the metal. At the fort itself, there are often reenactments and volunteers dressed in period costumes ready to answer your questions! Then continue south under shady Sitka spruce and hemlocks to a junction. Keep left to begin a boardwalk. Take a spur left to a view over the Lewis and Clark River that extends to Saddle Mountain. Interpretive signs tell the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Continue on the twisting boardwalk through a sedge swamp, and look north to get a view of the Astoria Column atop Coxcomb Hill. Pass a large spruce as the trail runs close to Fort Clatsop Road and the recently restored South Slough.

Cross the wide South Slough Bridge to continue south along the river bank under an arbor of red alder. Pilings in the river date from the time that Netul Landing was a busy lumber yard. Stronger steel pilings supplemented the 60-foot Douglas-fir poles that were embedded 20 feet into the river bottom. Massive log rafts were formed here to be floated up the Columbia as far as pulp and plywood mills in Portland. A log raft was 820 feet long and 50 feet wide and held 100 bundles of logs. That came to about 3,500 60 to 80-foot logs! Spruce logs were exported to Japan to make musical instruments. Take time also to scan the river for bird life. Mergansers, mallards, buffleheads, shovelers, and double-crested cormorants are common here in the winter. Great blue herons and common egrets pose at the water's edge, and you may catch a sighting of a bald eagle or osprey.

Pass the South Slough-Netul River Trail Junction, and reach the restrooms at Netul Landing. There's also a picnic area here on the river at the old logging bulk head. A covered display informs about Lewis and Clark and the local inhabitants they encountered. You can follow the sidewalk south for another third of a mile to the canoe/kayak launch and another picnic area. Interpretive signs detail the history of the log yard.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $10 entrance fee, payable at the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center or America the Beautiful Pass
  • Open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., late June – Labor Day; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Labor Day – late June; closed Christmas Day
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, visitor center, interpretive display
  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes: Oregon Coast by William L. Sullivan

More Links


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.