Astoria loop tour – Day 1

As the summer begins to wind down, Janet is preparing for her upcoming Fall semester classes and Jay’s training is complete as the new hospital is set to open. We haven’t been on a tour since last summer in Wales so we decided to take a few days and explore some of the local coastline and Coast Range mountain roads.

Our plan was to start in Astoria, OR, head south down the coast for a day or so, turn inland onto the quiet backroads of the Coast Range and head back north to Clatskanie, OR on the Columbia River. We would then take a short ferry ride, pedal across the Columbia into southwest Washington, ride through the foothills and join back up with US 101 to cross the Astoria Megler bridge back into Oregon. map direct link

The ride down US 101 is an extremely popular route, in large part to the popular guide book by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall, Bicycling the Pacific Coast and the highly detailed maps of the Adventure Cycling Association. The Oregon Department of Transportation also produces a wonderful guide to the Oregon Coast Bike Route.

We were fortunate to be introduced to a friend of a friend that lived in Astoria who gladly allowed us to park in her driveway for the duration of the trip. This eased a common worry for many of our trips since getting permission to park a vehicle in a safe location isn’t always possible. Thanks Angela! Good luck in your new job!!!

Saturday, August 3rd – 48 miles today/48 miles total

Our trip began with a late breakfast/early lunch at Street 14 Coffee, our favorite stop on the northern Oregon coast. We started at the crack of 1:15 pm, as usual… ;-} near the top of Astoria, the Astoria Column, and descended down the south side of Astoria towards Youngs Bay. Most riders heading towards or down the Pacific Coast cross Young’s River via the US 101 bridge. There is a more than adequate shoulder and the views of the surroundings are tough to beat.

Unfortunately, it is also the primary vehicular route between Astoria and points west and south. Instead, we opted to cross Youngs River and the Lewis and Clark River via the 101 business route.


Looking back at Astoria across Youngs Bay

For most riders, this would add about 2 miles to their day but the quiet backroads through the sloughs and around the small, regional airport are reward enough for a few extra pedal strokes. Rejoining US 101, we joined the procession along the coast passing by Warrenton and through Gearhart and Seaside.

Just south of Seaside, OR 26 turns east taking much of the coastal traffic back towards Portland. At the same time, 101 begins it’s first climb over and around the many Oregon capes, Tillamook Head. It isn’t that long (~2.5 miles) or that high (~500 feet) of a climb, but after the easy southbound, often with a substantial tailwind, pedaling, it is a signal of the coastal riding ahead.


Heading down a coastal hill

Flying down the hill towards Cannon Beach makes the climbing effort worth it. As you approach the initial turnoff to Cannon Beach, it’s time to choose between staying on 101 or coasting into town. The highway option is just a bit shorter with a few rollers. Riding through town, however, you have access to any services you may need and the traffic isn’t really a problem with the slow speed limit and foot traffic.

A few miles of rollers, after rejoining 101, lead to a pair of 5-600 foot climbs and descents finishing in Manzanita, next to our first campsite at Nehalem Bay State Park. While there are a number of good places to eat in this small, artsy town, Left Coast Siesta makes some of the best burritos found anywhere! For all but those that absolutely MUST cook their own dinner every night, the patio seating and 5 minute proximity to the campground makes Left Coast Siesta tough to pass by at dinnertime.


Above Manzanita before the final drop into camp

Many of the Oregon State Park campgrounds, and all of the ones on the coast I believe, have hiker/biker sites established with a “never full” policy, no reservations needed and only $5 per person per night. While these sites are fairly basic, it is just a short walk to hot showers, drinking water and other usual campground amenities. At Nehalem Bay SP, the showers were free and hot and the drinking water and bathrooms were only 200 yards away. All in all, a decent deal available throughout much of the state.


One response to “Astoria loop tour – Day 1

  1. Pingback: Astoria loop tour – Day 5 | Peterberger Bike Adventures·

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