|Lewis and Clark didn't have these nifty boardwalks|
Many years later, the National Park Service recreated Fort Clatsop in a place believed to be close to it's original location. During the snowless winter of 2015, I made a visit to the fort. While browsing around, I discovered a trail existed that stretched from Ft. Clatsop to the Pacific ocean. This 6.5-mile "Fort to Sea" Trail attempted to replicate the path Lewis and Clark's men took when traveling to the coast.
|Fort Clatsop replica|
I'd always intended to return and hike this trail. But compared to the Gorge and Cascade Mountains, it looked a little bit boring. Plus I didn't want to do a round-trip journey of 13 miles.
Then my blogging buddies Hans and Lisa said they'd be visiting nearby, and was I interested in a hike?
|Clatsop Ridge viewpoint|
Hans and Lisa live full time in their 5th wheel and travel the country. You can follow their adventures on Metamorphosis Road. They'd spent an entire summer journeying up the Oregon Coast, finally landing near Astoria in late August.
|Lush coastal forest|
A perfect chance to explore the Fort to Sea trail! Plans were made to meet my friends and leave a vehicle at each end. This enabled us to do a shuttle so we'd only have to hike the trail in one direction.
|Lots of ferns and mossy trees|
On the appointed day, I left hot, smoky Portland for the Oregon Coast's cool, cloudy skies. After weeks of above-90 temperatures, the chilly weather was such a relief. I met my friends at the Sunset Beach parking lot. Hans and Lisa piled into my Subaru and we headed towards Fort Clatsop.
|Genuine Oregon slugs!|
Once at Ft. Clatsop, we did a quick tour of the rebuilt replica of the fort itself, and walked down to the Lewis and Clark river's banks. But my friends were eager to explore the Fort to Sea Trail, so upon locating it's beginning, off we went!
Lewis and Clark's party made several trips to the Pacific Ocean, in search of salt and to trade with the local tribes. This trail is thought to cross forest, fields, and dunes similar to those traveled by Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery.
|Forest transitioning to brown|
However, the first section of trail traversed through this lovely coastal forest on a nice wooden boardwalk. Hmmm....don't think the Corps of Discovery had that luxury!
My friends and I climbed about a mile and a half through dense woods before reaching Clatsop Point. At 370 feet, this was the highest point of our trek. Despite the cloudy skies, we did enjoy sweeping views of the nearby forest and hills.
From our lofty perch, the trail then descended down into a lovely coastal forest, full of lush ferns and huge mossy trees. I even spotted a bit of wildlife - two huge slugs stuck to a fallen tree!
|Our hikers pause to pick berries|
Several other trails branched off from the main Fort to Sea path, and Hans, Lisa and I commented it would be fun to explore these on a future trip. Our trail was wide, evenly graded, and well-signed. There was even a restroom at the halfway point. (An amenity I know wasn't around in Lewis and Clark's day!)
|Lisa found a ripe one|
Soon after, the forest began to transition into pastureland. My friends and I crossed over a slough via a nice wooden bridge and found a large patch of ripe blackberries on the other side. Those plump, deep purple berries looked too good to resist!
|Hans has a mouth full of berries!|
Let the picking begin! Perfect for a quick snack.
|Hwy 101 underpass|
After the berry patch, we began hearing traffic noise. Soon our path dipped under Highway 101 via a sturdy concrete tunnel. (Of course, there was no traffic in Lewis and Clark's day, except maybe large herds of elk)
|Winding through a grassy farmer's field|
On the west side of the highway we found golden farmer's fields and a cute country church.
|Cute country church|
And more rivers and sloughs to cross. Luckily the parks service had built some nice bridges (poor Lewis and Clark's men would've had to wade through all these water bodies).
|Bridge over Skipanon River|
In this area, the trail was wedged between farmer's fields, sometimes hemmed in by fences on both sides. Not exactly a scenic place to hike....
And for some reason, we had to pass through a couple wooden stiles that appeared to be located along property lines. Not sure of their purpose. Maybe to keep cattle out?
|Narrow trail between fields|
|Lovely arched bridge over slough area|
But luckily, the flat barren field areas were relatively short, and before I knew it we came upon a lovely arched bridge spanning another slough. This was my favorite bridge of the entire trail.
The slough below had a large patch of lilypads floating in it's water.
|Hans strikes a hikers pose|
Passing by a couple of tiny lakes, I noticed the forest was beginning to thin, and the soil was looking a bit more sandy.
|The trees begin to thin|
Then we passed by the parking area for Sunset Beach, and Hans and Lisa's truck. Not much farther now!
The final leg of our journey was a short trek through tall beachgrass. We could hear the roar of the waves, and Lisa spotted a couple of kites floating in the sky.
|The mighty Pacific|
Ocean in sight! I wonder if this was the same view that greeted Lewis and Clark upon their arrival?
|Waving beach grass and dreamy blue hills|
Although I hadn't expected much, I came away mightily impressed with the Fort to Sea Trail. It passed through an amazing coastal forest, over beautiful sloughs and creeks, and ended at a scenic, windswept beach. Although an easy trek for us modern adventurers, it made me appreciate the difficulties Lewis and Clark's party endured just to obtain basic supplies.
Great to reconnect with blogging buddies while trekking a historic trail. Now on to Astoria for an after-hike brew at one of their wonderful pubs! (Sorry Lewis and Clark, you were 210 years too early)