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Thread: Following the Lower Columbia River on the Washington Side

  1. #1

    Following the Lower Columbia River on the Washington Side

    This road trip started at Ilwaco and terminated at Paterson, WA with a quick visit to the Columbia Crest Winery.

    I have traveled the Oregon side of the Columbia from Astoria to Biggs many times and have also explored much of the Columbia River from Hanford to the US/Canada border but for some reason the Washington side from the mouth to Biggs has been neglected.

    I wish that I had more time on this trip for greater exploration-but between medical treatments and thus not being in the best riding shape, I guess I should be thankful that I could get out for a couple of days.

    My cancer forced me to sell all my big bikes so now I ride a F650GS single which is a very nice bike that I can manage on solo road trips.

    Anyway--- this ride started in Ilwaco at the Portside Cafe. A nice little mom and pop which served a good breakfast and had free Wifi.

    From Ilwaco I picked up US 101 heading towards the Astoria Bridge, Fort Columbia State Park, and the Lewis and Clark National Park. All these places deserved more time than I was able to give them.

    Next few stops were 'photo ops' of the Astoria Bridge, Astoria, and some heritage signs.

    Main Span of the Astoria Bridge

    There were also some repairs going on for parts of the bridge.

    After the Astoria Bridge junction I proceeded to follow SR401 also known as the Kingston Ferry Road. Then at the town of Naselle I headed east on SR4.

    The lower Columbia River has lots of places to explore and I hope to spend a week in September doing just that. I think I will base out of Cathlamet, there seems to be a good selection of lodging options there ranging from camping, to renting a Yurt ($39/night), and of course motels. I discovered that the Hotel in town has been remodeled and rooms rent for $69/night.

    I took a picture of this tourist map-this is the area I would like to explore in September.

    My next stop was the town of Skamokawa. After the Astoria Bridge until Skamokawa the road runs inland and here at Skamokawa once again you are traveling along the Columbia River.

    Skamokawa is a nice little town and its being refurbished. There is a high end B&B here and you can rent kayaks to explore this section of the river. The people who own the general store are fixing it up and there is also a Post Office here as well.


    For an 8-10 mile section of the Columbia River (mostly west of Cathlamet) there are a bunch of islands in the river and they would be a lot of fun to explore in a small boat.

    From Cathlamet the road following along the northern shore of the Columbia almost all the way to Longview. If you stay on SR4, I suggest that you turn right on Nichols Blvd. This road parallels Lake Sacajawea Park and is a very scenic ride through town.

    From here I took I5 to I205 to pick up SR14.

    Probably a better choice would have been to cross over to Oregon taking WA SR433 which is Oregon Way and cross over the Lewis and Clark Bridge. From there take US30 on the Oregon side towards Portland. When you get to Forest Park one can work their way to Marine Drive. Then when you get to Portland International Airport you can cross over the Columbia back into Washington on I205 and pick up SR14.

    I was just too lazy to do this. I believe this Oregon route segment would have been much nicer and more scenic that 'scud running' I5 to I205.

    Anyway I got myself onto SR14 (aka Lewis and Clark Hwy) and proceed east. The going was a bit slow at first due to some construction and also there were quite a few people out fishing; cars, trucks and trailers were parked by the 100s along the road making the going slow just east of Camas.

    My next stop was after a climb up a steep grade which provided a nice eastward view of the Columbia River.

    North Bonneville was my next stop. It was quite windy when I took this picture of the dam. The locks were open and the wind carried the spray high into the air.

    Here at the Hood River Bridge and just before White Salmon there were quite a few windsurfers out and about. Just west of the bridge is a road named Dock Grade it crosses the RR tracks and leads to a boat launch and small park. This is where I took the picture below of Mt Hood.

    I was hoping to find a place to stay in White Salmon but there was nothing to be found and so I proceeded east. I stopped in Lyle there was a hotel but no one answered the bell and not wanting to return to White Salmon and cross over to Hood River (which is what I probably should have done), I continued to The Dalles and found a nice motel there. Just a short walk down the street there was a convenient Thai restaurant. The Dalles had provide me with a good meal and a good nights rest.

    The next day I continued to Patterson. I made several stops along the way. The first one was from a bluff looking west at Mt Hood.

    Stonehenge was the next stop. Sam Hill built this monument as a remembrance to the soldiers from Klickitat County who had lost their life in WW1. Once inside the monument one can use the openings to bracket some interesting photographs. I met another rider from Kelso who had spent the night at Goldendale. He told me about how he had come here to Stonehenge to take some night time pictures at a full moon.

    My final photo stop was to take a picture of John Day Dam.

    Finally, I stopped in Patterson at Columbia Crest and bought a bottle of wine before heading home.

    There are so many places to explore along the Columbia River; the Oregon side has the Historic Columbia River Highway, Multnoma Falls, Astoria and much, much more.

    On the Washington side there are numerous roads after Camas that run northward all worth exploration. Another favorite section of mine along the Columbia lies north of Inchelium to the US/Canada border.

    Below is a picture taken of the Inchelium-Gifford Ferry.

    Well that's it for this short little road trip. Tuesday its back to Seattle to start another stem cell transplant. That will eat up 6-8 weeks of my life plus some additional recovery.

    Backroad ADV

  2. #2
    A wandering Bird Vagabird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Portland OR
    Thanks for the report. I'm moving to Portland, and it is nice to see that there are plenty of good places to explore near there.

    Good luck with your treatments. I hope that they are manageable and effective.

    - Kate
    '16 R1200RS

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -- Mae West

  3. #3
    Jack Herbst
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Oro Valley, AZ
    Quote Originally Posted by Vagabird View Post
    Thanks for the report. I'm moving to Portland, and it is nice to see that there are plenty of good places to explore near there.

    Good luck with your treatments. I hope that they are manageable and effective.

    - Kate
    Great pictures. It makes me homesick. I spent 35 years in the Pacific Northwest. I do miss the scenery.


  4. #4
    Thanks for posting the fantastic images and ride report.
    09 R1200GS

    See our Moto Photo's:

  5. #5
    Nice ride report! I've driven that route more than once, and it sure looks good in person - as well as through your narrartive and pictures. Thanks for the memory! I rode through Paterson just last weekend, not much there!

    And I wish you well!

  6. #6
    Thanks for the ride report. The Columbia Gorge is a favorite place, especially the Washington side. When you return do check out some of the side roads like along the Klickitat river, Centerville Highway or the road leading up to Bickelton from Roosevelt. There are many places to explore on that 650, don't sell it short. I just bought a Dakar to augment my Adventurer as it will go places where the 1200 is more a handful than I want.

    Godspeed my friend.


  7. #7
    Heh, the picture of Mt. Hood in White Salmon was taken about 1000' from my house.
    Great pictures & good luck with your procedures!

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