What comes to mind when you hear the word “adventure”? Thrill-seekers may imagine paddling out on the glistening Pacific and riding a wave to shore, kayaking coastal rivers or paragliding over sandy beaches. Those of a tamer persuasion might envision strolling along an oceanfront trail and licking drips off a double-scoop ice cream cone. However you define it, you’ll find these and other experiences on Oregon’s North Coast to satisfy the mild, moderate and bold adventurer. Here we highlight nine such activities in and around three of the Coast’s most popular waterfront communities.
Astoria and Warrenton
Mellow: Cruise the Columbia River
Columbia River EcoTours is the perfect opportunity to ignite your inner ecologist from the vantage of a 40-foot cruising yacht. Glide under the beautiful Astoria-Megler Bridge and view the historic waterfront and piers. Passing through the Lewis & Clark National Wildlife Refuge and the Twilight Creek Eagle Sanctuary, you have a good chance to see birds including bald eagles, osprey and great blue herons.
Moderate: Hike the historic Fort to Sea Trail
Follow in the footsteps of famed explorers Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery by hiking on the Fort to Sea Trail. At a total length of 6.5 miles, the trail starts at Fort Clatsop Visitor Center and winds through dark forests, past coastal bogs, next to farms and under Highway 101 before reaching Sunset Beach State Recreation Site. If you are up for the full hike, arrange for a shuttle vehicle or cab to take you back to the starting point.
Bold: Soar high on a tandem paragliding flight
To get a bird’s eye view of the Coast, take a tandem paragliding flight with Discover Paragliding in Warrenton. Truly an amazing experience, paragliding is a non-motorized flying sport in which the pilot and passenger sit suspended below a parachute-like wing and float high in the sky. You might launch right from the beach or from a hillside above it, and you’ll be sure to get a thrilling ride and panoramic views.
Mellow: Stroll the Promenade
Take a stroll on the Seaside “Prom,” as the locals call it, with its historic automobile Turnaround and vibrant beach scene. The 1.5-mile paved oceanfront walkway is great for walkers, strollers and wheelchairs, and offers vast expanses of white sand beaches and views of the ultra-green Tillamook Head in the distance. Sip a latte, eat an ice cream cone or just hang out to enjoy some good old-fashioned people watching.
Moderate: Paddle the Necanicum River
Launch your own watercraft or rent a kayak at Wheel Fun Rentals in Quatat Park and paddle on the Necanicum River, which runs right through downtown Seaside. You can paddle upstream, passing under several bridges and alongside an island. It’s a perfect way to enjoy relaxing bird watching, have a picnic and explore the river.
Bold: Dig for razor clams
This is a different kind of bold. Seaside has some of the best clamming beaches you’ll find anywhere, perfect for adventurous kids and adults alike. And while there’s nothing adrenaline pumping about it, digging in the sand for these critters is exhilarating in its own way. During low tide, the wide, sandy shore is often marked with thousands of dimples and holes, a sign of razor clams beneath the surface. Arm yourself with a shellfish license (check with the City of Seaside Visitors Bureau for information on securing a license), a shovel and a bucket — you’ll have fresh clams for dinner in no time. Please note that razor clamming season on Clatsop County beaches runs July 15-Sept. 30.
Mellow: Walk to Hug Point
Hug Point Falls is a photogenic little river that cascades down to the beach. It’s surrounded by weathered rock formations and caves. Nearby, you’ll find Hug Point, one of the most unique sections of “road” in Oregon. Still marked by wheel ruts, the narrow road that “hugs” the point at one time allowed stagecoaches and early automobiles to travel along the beach. Park at Hug Point State Recreation Site, about 4 miles south of Cannon Beach, and take the half-mile trail to Hug Point Falls. Be sure to check the tide before you go, as this is a low-tide only spot.
Moderate: Take a spin on the beach
Family FUNcycles in Cannon Beach rents funky recumbent style fat-tire bicycles for cruising on the beach at low tide. Hop on a cycle and pedal past the towering Haystack Rock during low tide. Designed for comfort and fun, they have 12 different sizes to fit the whole family. For more two-wheeled adventures, head to Bikes and More, a new cycling shop in town that rents balloon-tire cruisers for beach riding.
Bold: Go surfing
Learn how to paddle out and catch waves with a surf lesson at Short Sands Beach in Oswald West State Park. About 10 miles south of Cannon Beach, Short Sands is a beautiful cove with tree-lined cliffs on both ends. The forested half-mile hike in from the parking lot is just as lovely. Cannon Beach Surf, Northwest Surf Lessons and Cleanline Surf all offer surf lessons as well as wetsuit and board rentals.