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  1. #1
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Crossing the Columbia at Astoria - Alternatives to Bridge?

    I'm organizing a tour down the west coast with 12-14 year-olds. Years ago I crossed the Columbia via the bridge that goes into Astoria. It scared the poop out of me. It was really long, there was no shoulder, logging trucks were whizzing past at what seemed to be inches away, and there was a long hill at the end to slow me down and make it difficult to hold a straight line. The thought of taking a bunch of kids across that scares me even more.

    Are there any alternatives? A shuttle service? A ferry a few miles up the river? Anything?

    Between the Canadian border and the Big Sur coast, nothing else scares me as much as that bridge.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Sorry I am not aware of any alternatives, but when I did it we intentionally camped very close (maybe 10 miles north?) and got up really early, and it was sort-of-OK. Only got passed by about 10 vehicles.

    I hope you figure out something better...
    ...

  3. #3
    Hooked on Touring
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    It depends on what your meaning of "alternatives" is. There is a wonderful ferry at Cathlamet. It would involve extra miles - but these are lovely miles as are the towns of Skamokawa and Cathlamet. The Cathlamet ferry is the last ferry remaining on the Lower Columbia.

    Heading south - you would cut east on WA 4 just outside of Naselle - 24 miles to Skamokawa - then take the back road thru the Wildlife Refuge along the Columbia River. Cathlamet has an expansive view of the Columbia from its pier. From town you take the bridge over to Puget Island - fairly long bridge, but light traffic, then the ferry to Westport, OR. From Westport you can backtrack on US 30 to Astoria or head east east 10 miles to Clatskanie, south on OR 47 to Mist, then follow the Nehalem River to Nehalem on the coast (short 3-mile dirt section). This valley is one of the sweetest rides there is.

    By doing this you miss Astoria, Seaside, and Cannon Beach plus a long stretch of US 101 - no great loss - but you also miss Fort Canby and the mouth of the Columbia plus the spectacular overlook at Arch Cape. If you're heading down the coast there will be plenty of other capes. Unless you really need supplies or a bike shop in Astoria, you can get all in Tillamook.

    I've done both. US 101 north and south of Astoria can be extremely busy, but it has good shoulders. For my money, I'd do the longer, more scenic route using the ferry.

  4. #4
    Commuter Animal mike_khad1's Avatar
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    That bridge scared me quite a bit this summer. So did the tunnel on the Washington side of 101 (near Chinook). I agree with the Cathlamet ferry idea.
    Michael

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  5. #5
    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    Depending on the number of kids, how about renting a u-haul in Ilwaco or Long Beach to haul the bikes and gear over. Return the van and either take a bus across. If there are two adults, one can rent a U-Haul and the other can rent a passenger van. For less than $100 you're all in Astoria safely. Might cost that much for ferry fare anyway.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
    Between the Canadian border and the Big Sur coast, nothing else scares me as much as that bridge.
    IMHO...If you're going to take the kids all the way down the coast, you might want to find a detour around the Devil's Slide area above Half Moon Bay (or ride it during off-hours). That scared me 10x more than the bridge

  7. #7
    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    I biked over the Astoria bridge twice and without question it was the most scared I have ever been in my life. Last time was this past summer with my 13 year old son. I told him you don't need thrill rides this was a real life thrill ride with the real possibility of getting killed.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    No further than San Francisco

    We're still considering how far to go, but I don't want to go any further south than San Francisco, so no Devil's Slide. We live about 3 hours south of S. F. so if we stopped there it would be easy for the parents to come pick up the kids. I thought it would be fun to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge first though. It all depends on how much time and money we have. Different ideas are Canada to San Francisco (maximum), Canada to California (Crescent City), Seattle to Crescent City, Portland to Crescent City (which eliminates the bridge.)

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