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Walking Astoria's Coastal Town is a Unique Adventure

Updated on January 24, 2014

Astoria's Columbia River and Pacific Coast Inlet


Coastal Walking Experiences are Motivational and Inspiring

My New Year’s resolution was to travel and walk more outside of my local stomping grounds for both exercise, relaxation and learn more about the state in which I live.

All too often exercise routines can become boring and require a change in location in order to inspire and motivate one to sustain healthy fitness levels. Yes, aerobic walking for me is just as important as breathing clean air.

I walk on average 8-10 miles a day for my aerobic conditioning and currently have over 20 destination places I can walk to in my home town. However, I believe it is also necessary to experience other surroundings outside of my exercise area. By doing so keeps me excited about the next 10 miles I'll walk tomorrow.

For me, there is nothing better than the views and environmental-cultural experiences that can be found along the Great NW Coastal communities.


Astoria-Megler Bridge


Beth Woodard and Bucca

Pier Warehousing Along Columbia River

Astoria's Geographic Orientation

I started the year out by visiting a quaint little town in Clatsop County known as Astoria over the weekend with my wife. Since I hadn’t visited this town in years, I felt it was time to reacquaint myself with it.

For those that live in Oregon, most have heard of it, or have visited it sometime in their lives. If you been their might I suggest you visit this quaint little town. You'll not be disappointed. The town is located off of Oregon U.S. route 101 and HWY 30 and situated at the mouth of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean.

A notable feature once you get there is the 4.2mile Astoria-Megler Bridge that completes highway 101 and connects Oregon to Washington. Prior to this bridge a ferry route connected Astoria with Pacific County.

Astoria has a population of about 9,477 per 2010 census. The Oregon legislative Assembly incorporated Astoria on October 20, 1876.

"Click on the map's image to enlarge and identify land marks."

If you want to get some great walking exercise while learning a little bit of history and taking in the sights and sounds, might I recommend starting out the morning with a low intensity walk on the city piers boardwalk. Then meander your way downtown and finish up the day with a visit to the column on top Coxcomb Hill.

This is exactly how my wife and I spent the day and I'm looking forward to the next visit.

The boardwalk along the towns river piers easily stretches better than a mile with fishing boats, warehousing, hotels, maritime-historical museum, seafood restaurants, etc., To include piers gone missing when Astoria was a booming fishery and canary industry. There are also sea lions, seagulls and ducks to view and sounds of their chatter and barks and other ocean sounds.

If you look at the picture with the bridge in the background, looking at the foreground, you'll note their are poles sticking out at the waters edge; the remains of old piers.

There are many reminisces like this that reminds us of the rich fishing heritage and industries that once thrived here and to some degree still does.

Typical Ship Docking Along Side Pier


SW View During Switch Back Walking


360 Degree Panoramic View

When you get to the top of Combcox Hill you are rewarded with a historical structure and visual sights of the Columbia River’s mouth to the Pacific Ocean with amazing 360 degree panoramic views of the valley floors, residential homes on the lower hill, downtown piers and forested mountains and waterways as far as the eye can see.

Column Observation Deck NW View


Walking Up Coxcomb Hill - Spectacular Views

From there my wife and I walked old town Main Street as a warm up to later walk Coxcomb Hill.

Unfortunately, I didn't shot any pictures of the downtown area because of my exercise focus. I'll update this pub later to get them in. But I can tell you, there are many coffee shops, restaurant, antique, books and gifts stores to visit.

This place is definitely a walker’s paradise of sights, sounds and smells. And if I had it my way, I would have stayed there at least 3 days to take it all in.

After getting our morning java and breakfast we were adequately fueled with calories to burn. We continued our walk up the step streets that led to the base of Combcox Hill and its column. I’d say the slope up these streets and hills switchbacks were easily 8-14 degree pitch depending on what section of road you walked.

But the views of the valley floor during our switchback assent were spectacular.

The roads to get to the column on the hill seemed near 2 miles of never ending switch backs to the top. This walk is not for the faint of heart and to say the least, those that are not aerobically conditioned to walk these types of terrain should take care in doing so. Also, carry at least 2 litters of water and take multiple rest breaks if you decide to tackle this long walk adventure.

Column's Observation Deck Looking Up at Dome

Column on Top Coxcomb Hill and Exterior Spiral Sgraffito


The Column and Dome at Observation Deck

Once you catch your breath viewing the surrounding terrain on top the hill, you’ll want to get into your stair stepping mindset to climb the 164-step spiral stair case to get to the top of the column's viewing deck.

This 125’ column, on top the hill reaches a total height of 600’ if you include the hills base to the column’s observation deck. It was designed and patterned after the Trajan Column in Rome and was built in 1926. It was financed by the Great Northern Railway and Vincent Astor, the great grandson of John Jacob Astor. His fur Company was founded in 1811 and Astoria was named after this American investor.

The column is part of the 30-acre city park and is registered as a national historic place as of May 2, 1974.

On its exterior is a spiral Sgraffito (a wall décor technique using layers of plaster & colored drawings). Wrapped around the ~7’ column there is approximately 525’ of 14 pictorial and significant historical events from Captain Gray’s discovery of the Columbia River in 1792, Lewis and Clark’s expedition and Astoria’s historical role which led it to the tourist town it is today.

Columbia River E from Observation Deck


Marc Woodard on Top Observation Deck


Column's Downward View From Observation Deck


Column's Observation Deck & Looking Down

Try stair climbing this column 2-3 times a day to its observation deck. No need for a fitness center membership here with this type of aerobics activity. I’ll guarantee you, your thighs will burn and the fat will melt away. I went up it once and that was enough for me after walking the hill. And then look down and about... The views with the blue sky backdrop are next to no other.

Looking down from the observation deck my wife Beth and her best buddy "Bucca" her beloved chow chow await my decent and eventual walk back down the hill.

See if you can spot them. They appear to be a slight dot, just left of the trucks front bumper, about 5 balusters to the left sitting in the grass.

I have to tell you, the walk down the hill was much easier than walking up. Go figure.

Inside Boat Tour

Pier Board Walk


Astoria is a Great Place to Visit

To this day, Astoria is an old town coastal community that is very walkable with a rich history and heritage that is sure to capture the imagination.

After all, it was first home to the native Clatsop Indians that lived here before the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805-1806, with whom they traded goods and then settled and populated by Nordic [primarily Finns] and Chinese people that earned a living through the fishing, timber and fur trades. Although these industries have declined significantly through the years, the city has held onto its rich heritage and has developed into a unique tourism with maritime museum and other historical places of interest. It is a great destination place for the family.

For the able bodied walker that wants to experience this nostalgic and historical place while getting their daily aerobic exercise, I highly recommend you chose this as a destination place to experience it if you’ve not recently walked, or visited it. You'll not be disappointed.


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