Carless: Canada to the Coast

Susan Seubert,  Photographer
October 21, 2011 (Updated January 10, 2013)

Is this guy with you ladies?” This comes from the bartender at Clyde Common. He gestures at Andrew, who has just grabbed the vacant stool next to me. The bartender looks at me as if to say, I’ll give him the heave-ho if you want.

This makes me laugh. Not only because Andrew is about six-foot-four, but because he’s one of the nicest guys I know. After all, he’s Canadian.

Andrew’s Euro-American heritage is the reason we are at Clyde Common. It’s the impetus for an entire weekend, in fact. Andrew and I, along with our partners, Jocelyn and Brendan, have set out to prove that Canadian visitors don’t need a car to visit the Oregon Coast. For those who want to swap the 300-plus-mile drive for travel by train, bus and hiking trail, we’ve planned an itinerary from Vancouver, B.C., to Portland to Seaside to Cannon Beach and back.

Day One: First stop — PDX
Amtrak’s morning departures from Vancouver arrive in Portland’s grand Union Station in time for a short walk to dinner in the Pearl District. A delicious meal at Irving Street Kitchen got us fittingly started, as the menu is modern American with a soft Southern accent. We lingered over our meal in the elegantly rustic dining room — with weathered wood accents and milk bottle chandeliers. Try the Gin Daisy or Dandy American cocktails. Savory fried chicken, collard greens and mashed potatoes as well as bacon-wrapped oysters were standouts, but dessert stole the show: butterscotch pudding with roasted banana caramel and crème fraiche (served in a mason jar).

After dinner and a short walk to the historic Ace Hotel, we stowed our packs and headed down to the bar. The Ace lobby — opening to Stumptown Coffee on one end and Clyde Common on the other — is a window into Hipsterville. The bar makes a great people-watching perch. Nightcap winners: Bourbon Renewal and St. Steven’s Sour.

Day Two: Seaside to Cannon Beach (12-mile hike)
After a night in the Ace’s playfully retro rooms, we head to the Breakfast Room (Room 215) for house made granola, fresh jams, artisan meats and cheeses. We recommend  a cup of coffee from Stumptown for the walk to Union Station to catch the 9:30 a.m. bus to Seaside. The bus arrives around 11 a.m. after a scenic drive through farm and forest. A 10-minute walk from the bus stop takes you to Seaside promenade, where you can stroll to Lewis and Clark’s “End of the Trail,” and poke around the shops on Broadway.

For lunch, we recommend Maggie’s on the Prom (also known as the Seaside Oceanfront Restaurant) — especially the halibut burger with fries and the Oregon Coast Poke — made with fresh Dungeness Crab, spinach and hazelnuts over wakame salad.

After lunch, we made our way south down the promenade to the Tillamook Head trailhead. Part of the Oregon Coast and the Lewis and Clark National Historical trails, the climb over Tillamook head is a respectable challenge. (William Clark called it, “the steepest worst & highest mountain I ever ascended.”) The trail climbs about 900 feet in the first two miles and levels off before a gradual descent. (Download a Trail Map)

We wound our way through the shelter of old growth forest and popped out for breathtaking views of the ocean and rocky coast. Towering spruce trees, enormous nurse logs, huge sword ferns and upturned root balls of old trees made it seem like a giant’s playground.

Four miles in, we came to a small campground, and a short spur revealed moss-covered bunkers from WWII and a view of the lonely lighthouse on Tillamook Rock. Returning to the trail, we soon reached Indian Beach, a fun spot to watch surfers line up for incoming waves. We continued on to Ecola Point, a lovely grassy viewpoint, past the turnoff for Crescent Beach, and just a bit further to Ecola State Park Road, for a short walk into Cannon Beach. (The entire hike, from the Seaside promenade to Cannon Beach, is about 12 miles.)

Our post-hike pampering began at the picturesque Cannon Beach Hotel, a 1914 guesthouse with 10 elegant guestrooms. The fixtures and gleaming tile of the bathroom recall a bygone era, and room décor conveys a rich, understated beauty. Bonus: claw foot soaking tub and heated towel rack.

In the cozy dining room of Bistro Restaurant we enjoyed Oregon microbrews and French wine under the thrall of an acoustic guitarist. Veal scallopini with baby artichoke hearts, a hearty lasagna, and fresh halibut in green curry restored our group. A beachside walk lit by dozens of bonfires was the perfect end to the evening.

Day Three: Onward from Cannon Beach (10-mile out-and-back)
Start your day with coffee and breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. The rich eggs benedict, spicy huevos rancheros and lighter continental breakfast satisfied our crew.

We made our way to majestic Haystack Rock rising 235-feet out of the surf — a protected seabird nesting colony and home to pastel sea anemones, bright starfish and other tide pool residents. Haystack Rock is also part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Along our walk we stopped at Waves of Grain Bakery for wraps, sodas and cookies to go. From there, we walked south, our bare feet squeaking in the sand. We passed families on fat-tired funcycles, kids flying kites, and dogs racing into the surf. But soon we were alone with the wind-sculpted spruce trees, pelicans coasting above the waterline and an entire beach for throwing the Frisbee.

At mile point three, we reached Humbug Point, recognizable by its tall turret of basalt. Another 1.3 miles farther, we climbed over a wet, rocky shelf to our destination, Hug Point. Here we explored a cave carved in the basalt cliff and a 12-foot waterfall gushing over timeworn stone. Our sandwiches, ginger cookies and macaroons tasted even better for the waiting. (Note: Be sure to check the tide tables. You can only get around Hug Point at low tide.)

After your hike back from Hug Point, make time for beer and a burger or halibut fish and chips at Bill’s Tavern and Brewhouse before the 6:45 p.m. bus from Cannon Beach to Portland. Stomachs and hearts full, you might, like us, start talking about more carless ways to explore Oregon.

Carless: Canada to the Coast Details


Ace Hotel1022 S.W. Stark St., Portland

Cannon Beach Hotel1116 S. Hemlock St.,
Cannon Beach

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Portland Deals
Coast Deals

Eat + Drink

Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse188 N. Hemlock St.,
Cannon Beach

Clyde Common1014 S.W. Stark St., Portland

Irving Street Kitchen701 N.W. 13th Ave., Portland

Maggie’s on the Prom at
Seaside Oceanfront Inn581 S. Promenade, Seaside

Stumptown Coffee Roasters1026 S.W. Stark St., Portland

The Bistro263 N. Hemlock St., Cannon Beach

Waves of Grain Bakery3116 S. Hemlock St., Cannon Beach

More Portland

More Coast


Amtrak’s Union Station800 N.W. 6th Ave., Portland

Ecola State Park800.551.6949

Hug Point State Park800.551.6949

Download a trail map

For more information about Portland

For more information about the Coast

About The

Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.