Mini bike adventure: Portland to Astoria

Like I mentioned in my last post, my first day of bike adventure was a fantastic ride from the end of the MAX line in Hillsboro to Astoria, way the heck up where the Columbia River finally dumps into the Pacific. It’s easy enough to take Highway 30 along the Columbia all the way to Astoria, but I’ve heard that it’s not super pleasant–and the parts that I have been on, mainly to Suavie Island, are definitely not the kind of road I’d want to spend all day on. There’s plenty of shoulder, I mean, but also plenty of traffic–loud, loud, loud. Give me country roads any day.

And what lovely country roads they were! We passed this old house on the Brew Pub Populaire a few weeks ago. I’d wished then that I had my camera, and then here I was with another opportunity!

(reclaimed by nature)

From the back roads around Hillsboro, I made my way to Banks, where I hopped on the Banks-Vernonia trail which I’m rapidly becoming an expert on.

(I eat steep grades for breakfast:)

In Vernonia, it’s an easy transition to Highway 47, then 202, both of which cross and follow and re-cross the Nehalem River for miles and miles. There’s generally not much of a shoulder, but traffic is super light, consisting mostly of logging trucks that (for the most part) gave me lots of room as they went by. Plus, every once in a while there are friendly reminders that bikes belong on the road, too:

(following the signs to Astoria)

(one of the plethora of Nehalem River crossings, still looking wintery in the sunshine)

Though it wasn’t a super warm day, I was so psyched that the sun was shining and I was out on the open road. There’s seriously something amazing about being on a road I’ve never been on before, heading somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, all on my own power. And how can you argue with a day filled with stuff like this:

(I don’t know what mountains those are, but I saw them both from this side and, once I got close to Astoria, looking back the other direction too)

Once upon a time when I thought I might go to Astoria but take two days to get there, I imagined camping in the Clatsop National Forest, which a map makes it look like highway 202 goes through. On this ride, though, I was glad I hadn’t planned on that since I never noticed going through the national forest. Mostly, it seemed like I was biking through private land, with nary a place to set up a tent at all. Which was fine for me since I was planning to stay in Astoria anyway, but would have been a sad surprise if I’d taken my previously planned trip.

When I got to Astoria, I opted to bike through town instead of taking the long way around. What I didn’t realize is that Astoria is steep! Pictures never do steepness justice, but check out the difference between the bottom of those stairs on the right and the top of them. That’s right: almost a whole house story in about 10 feet of descent.

(“dangerous intersection” indeed)

I was psyched that even after the end of about 100 miles with my trailer, I was still feeling spunky on these hills:)

And then, just because I went super plush style for the first part of this trip, I got to the awesome Rose River Inn bed and breakfast. I’d totally recommend it if you’re even in Astoria. The owners are super sweet, and it’s right in the downtown portion of the city–and not even that pricey! All in all a great spot for me to park my bike for a day while I explored Astoria by foot.

So overall? I don’t have a functional bike computer anymore, but Oregon DOT says it’s 100 miles from Hillsboro to Astoria on the route I took. Taking my time to enjoy the ride and stop in pretty places, it took about 8.5 hours–all in a day’s work:) I got to Astoria with plenty of time to shower and hit up the town before it got dark. Sweet. How awesome is it to wake up in Portland and snuggle down in Astoria while also having thoroughly enjoyed everything in between? Bike travel rocks:)

One Comment:

  1. Pingback: » Portland-Astoria: day two, bike-free CarFreeRambles

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