Located between Astoria and Seaside, the lesser-known city of Warrenton sometimes gets overlooked. But with rich history and countless outdoor activities, it’s truly a destination unto itself, one that’s perfectly suited for active families. Here, we highlight top attractions that’ll make for a lively Warrenton getaway.
The sprawling Lewis & Clark National Historical Park includes Fort Clatsop, the winter encampment of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery in 1806; explore the replica fort, an interpretive center with exhibits, and in the summer months, rangers in period dress answer questions and offer demonstrations of flintlock shooting, tanning, candle making and more. Follow in the footstep of the Corps on the Fort to Sea Trail. Traversing the same fields and dunes they traveled 200 years ago, the 6.5 mile trail starts at the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center and ends at Sunset Beach, the former home of Clatsop Indians who helped the Corps. Several shorter hikes – including paved trails and easy walks for kids – also radiate from the Visitor Center.
Kayakers and canoers can paddle past lush riverbanks on the Lewis & Clark River Trail. Launch at Netul Landing, one mile south of the Visitor Center. In summer, ranger-guided paddling tours cover the cultural and natural history of the area. Prefer to keep your feet above the water? Clatsop Paddle Company leads standup paddleboard tours along the Lewis & Clark and Skipanon Rivers.
At Fort Stevens State Park, walk among the ruins of the famous Peter Iredale shipwreck, a four-masted vessel that ran aground in 1906. The bow of the ship rises dramatically out of the sands, a rusty reminder of the rough seas at the mouth of the Columbia and a unique photo op. The park also has a network of bicycle and hiking trails through spruce and hemlock forests, shore pine, wetlands and dunes.
Clatsop Spit was formed by Columbia River sediment pushed to the coast after the last ice age. This vast, sandy plain makes for a lovely walk and has excellent bird watching; look for brown pelicans, terns, cormorants, gulls and sanderlings.
History buffs will enjoy the abandoned World War II gun batteries and commander’s station, as well as displays at the park’s Military Museum.
For stunning views of the Columbia River and the Astoria Bridge, hike the 4.5-mile Warrenton Waterfront Trail.
Looking for a bit more zing? Adrenaline junkies will dig the zip lines at High Life Adventures. Eight zip lines whiz you along up to 75 feet above the ground, through the tree tops, and at one point you can even dip your toes in a lake!
Photo by Justin Bailie