Long Beach is located on Long Beach Peninsula just over the border from Astoria Oregon – speaking of which; the Astoria Bridge (formally known as the Astoria-Megler Bridge) is CRAZY! First off, I think it is the tallest bridge I’ve ever seen, secondly it has a wicked steep hill off the west side that seriously brings to mind roller coasters, and thirdly it is really, really long. It took more than 5 minutes to cross it. I mean, come on!! My heart was in my mouth as I approached it, climbing higher and higher until I was actually scared… the fact that there was construction on the bridge at its apex meant I sat waiting, right where the overhead span starts, for oncoming traffic to clear for way too long and panic was starting to set in because, did I mention, it is REALLY REALLY HIGH. Once we finally got going I could not believe how high off the water I was. It is a massive long way to fall if there was an earthquake or something. Yeah, I was thinking that. I was so happy to get down off the tall part to the part that is a floating bridge and I was so happy this was a one-way trip!
Anyway, back to Long Beach, my next stop. This beach gets its name because it is long (go figure); like miles and miles and miles long – 28 miles, to be exact, and that makes it the longest beach in the USA (it is also home to the world’s biggest chopsticks!) It is reportedly a great place to beachcomb as floats of glass and other material wash up regularly, although I didn’t see any in the three hours I was there. There is also the 8.5 mile long ‘Discovery Trail’ where one can follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark on a path that winds through the beach dunes between Cape Disappointment State Park and Long Beach. Great name for the cape, no? Apparently on July 6, 1788, English fur trader John Meares named the northern side of the entrance to the Columbia River, Cape Disappointment. The name reflects Meares’ chagrin at not finding the Columbia River. I mean, really? It was RIGHT THERE!
The beach is drivable in parts and there were some vehicles on the sand when I was there. However, again, only go on the sand if you have a four wheel drive. There was a white sedan that was well and truly stuck on the beach and after fruitless digging and trying to back up for two hours, the police were called. Not a fun outing at all.
The town of Long Beach is home to galleries and shops that showcase the work of the many artists that live here. There is also some serious antique hunting to be done, as well as a Family Entertainment Center. There’s horseback riding on the beach, and two functioning lighthouses to visit. There really is a lot to do at this spot.
I thought the beach was amazing… and there is a feeling of real solitude here. There is just so much beach to lose yourself on and really get away from everyone, if that is what you’re looking for. I would love to go back and spend some serious time beachcombing because I know there was stuff to be found. I just didn’t have enough time to really give it a chance.
After three hours or so, I was back in my car heading off to the next beach when it suddenly hit me; I should drive the entire length of the peninsula; I mean I am here and who knows when I will be back. So I pulled a U turn and set off north to see what was up top. My GPS said it was just over 30 minutes away and that turned out to be true. I took the east side of the peninsula up and the west side back. At the northern tip is Leadbetter State Park and where the road into the park narrows, you aren’t supposed to proceed unless you have a $10 pass. I didn’t and I didn’t know how or where to get one so I just pushed on (look, I didn’t drive for half an hour to turn back before getting all the way there). The very narrow road ended in a parking lot and I got out, intending to go to the beach and see what that was like. Only I read a sign saying it was a mile long hike. I really didn’t feel up to that so reluctantly got back in my car and headed back to Long Beach and off the peninsula to the next beach. So many beaches, so little time!!
Happy trails to you!