The best way to see the Columbia River waterfront in Astoria is to walk or bike along the Astoria Riverwalk, also known as the Astoria River Trail. The Riverwalk hugs the bank of the river, providing visitors with great views, a trip through Astoria’s history, and access to many museums and attractions nearby.
It follows the route of Astoria & Columbia River Railroad, begun in 1898. In the 1990s, Astoria transformed these abandoned railroad tracks into the first section of the Riverwalk through the National Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Today, it stretches just over six miles from Smith Point and Port of Astoria on Young’s Bay to Tongue Point. The trail is flat and paved except for a few boardwalk sections. Visitors can access the trail almost anywhere along its length. The Traillink website has a map and detailed information about the trail.
The Riverwalk begins at the Port of Astoria, passing through this industrial area with its great variety of ships, to a viewpoint of the historic Astoria-Megler Bridge. Under the Bridge, the Maritime Memorial Park offers more views of the river and its ship traffic. The Park honors members of the U.S. Coast Guard who died during service on the Columbia River and residents who have worked in the maritime industry.
The Riverwalk passes historic cannery buildings and wharves, and at 6th Street, visitors can stop at the viewing platform to enjoy more ship traffic and scenic vistas along the river. The trail passes through the riverfront area of downtown Astoria. Here, most of the old buildings have been converted to shops, galleries, restaurants and brewpubs for visitors to explore.
Many Astoria attractions and museums are just a short walk from the downtown section of the Riverwalk. The Oregon Film Museum, a Goonies favorite, and the historic Captain George Flavel House are only three blocks away. Farther along the downtown portion of the trail, the Garden of the Surging Waves and the Museum of Whimsy are within an easy walking distance as well. At the eastern edge of downtown, the trail passes the nationally famous Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Visitors who enjoy watching wildlife will enjoy the eastern section of the Riverwalk, beginning at the Maritime Museum. This section features more natural habitat. Birders may spot heron and bald eagles, and tens of thousands of birds gather along the shoreline during their fall migration.
The Riverwalk continues past the Millpond to 36th Street. There, visitors are likely to hear the barking of sea lions as they sunbathe around the docks. The trail branches at its eastern end, with one branch providing access to LaPlante Park. The other leads toward the lagoons, ending at Lagoon Road near Tongue Point.
The Riverwalk and the route of Astoria’s Riverfront Trolley parallel each other from near the Piers at Smith Point to 30th Street, just past the Mill Pond. Visitors who want to stroll shorter portions of the trail can ride the Trolley on other sections if they wish.
Spring has arrived in the Pacific Northwest, so don’t wait to book a weekend getaway to Astoria! The Riverwalk showcases Astoria’s maritime history together with its culture, shopping, and lively restaurant scene. Best of all, when you stay at Clementine’s Bed & Breakfast, access to the downtown portion of the Riverwalk is just three blocks away. Spring has arrived, so give us a call and book your stay!
Photos by Michelle Roth Photography courtesy of Astoria Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce