Enjoy the Journey: Motorcycling to the LBP from Portland and Seattle
There’s nothing like the feel of the wind on your body and the pavement rushing by as you cruise through stunning landscape on your motorcycle. Riding is not a spectator sport; you become part of the scenery, and you won’t find more engaging scenery than the winding roads and picturesque loops of Pacific County and SW Washington. Here are some tips and routes that motorcyclist and road tripper will love!
Follow I-5 south to exit 104, 101-N towards Aberdeen. Keep left to stay on WA-8 towards Montesano, which becomes 12-W. Take Exit 107 towards Montesano/Raymond. Follow to Hwy 101 South and follow the signs to Long Beach. Allow about three hours, depending on traffic.
Highway 101 is full of scenic views of the river and bay and provides many opportunities for wildlife viewing. From Olympia to the Long Beach Peninsula, you’ll be traveling along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. In Raymond stretch your legs on the Willapa Hills Trail, which routes along the Willapa River and takes you into the town of South Bend. As you continue from South Bend you’ll twist and turn down the shores of Willapa Bay.
Local tip: After crossing the Lower Naselle River Bridge, a few miles up on the left hand side, you will see the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters and Visitors Center near milepost 24. Be sure to explore the Art Walk along the boardwalk through the estuary.
From Portland you have three choices to get to the LBP. You can travel down the Washington side on State Route 4, take Highway 26 along the Oregon Coast and up, or enjoy the drive along Highway 30.
If you take the US-26, stop and stretch your legs on the Northern side of the Columbia River at Middle Station Camp, which is Part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Park. Further up the highway, just after the tunnel on the right hand side is Fort Columbia State Park, which sits high on Chinook Point. A few miles past that is Chinook County Park, which provides a gorgeous view of the Oregon Coast Range, including Saddle Mountain.
Another route is to take I-5 North from Portland to Longview where you can either cross the Longview Bridge to Hwy 30 or continue up State Route 4. Both routes are quite scenic with several gorgeous places to rest while enjoying some of the most beautiful landscape in the Pacific Northwest. Can’t decide whether you want to go North or South? No problem, you can go half way and then cross over on the Wahkiakum Ferry, which travels between Westport and Cathlamet.
Both Highway 30 and State Route 4 follow along the mighty Columbia River. On the Oregon side you’ll travel through historic towns like St. Helens and Rainier. Make sure you take time to enjoy Astoria, with its expansive views (especially from the Column) and the many quaint shops. Cross the Astoria Bridge and take a left after the bridge onto the 101-N.
Traveling on the Washington side of the river, you’ll pass through the historic villages of Stella and Skamokawa. Stop, stretch your legs, and take in the stunning views at County Line Park or Vista State Park.
Once You’re Here: Fun, Short, Scenic Loops
Willapa Valley Loop: Hwy 6 – Hwy 12 – 101
Highway 12 provides stunning views of the Pacific Northwest and winds around the southern part of Capital State Park. Add in lush rain forest and pristine lakes and you have the makings of a perfect motorcycle ride. From 1-5 South take the Hwy 12 exit towards Montesano. Take the exit toward WA-107 towards Montesano/Raymond and follow to the 101. At the traffic circle in Raymond follow State Route 6 towards Doty. 16 miles before Chehalis you’ll see Rainbow Falls State Park. Stop and stretch your legs as you wander among the waterfalls surrounded by lush forest and wildflowers.
Pacific County Waterways: Naselle River, Columbia River, Pacific Ocean
Another beautiful motorcycle loop begins at the Astoria Bridge, takes you north on the 101 through the charming port town of Ilwaco, to two lighthouses, then along the Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and beside the Naselle River. For an ultra local experience, take Parpala Road, a rural county lane that follow along the Naselle River and connects Highway 101 to Highway 4.
The full loop is about 75 miles and will take you about 1.5 hours without stops, but you should definitely stretch your legs at Cape Disappointment State Park and explore the Northhead Lighthouse. You might also want to stop and take in the view at Dismal Nitch, located one mile east of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, visit Middle Village Station Camp, or learn about the Chinook Tribe at Fort Columbia State Park (immediately after the tunnel).
LBP Loop: Beach to Bay
Another stunning motorcycle loop is riding up the ocean side of the Long Beach Peninsula and down the bay side (or visa versa). Mosey along this slow, enjoyable scenic ride with lots of beauty along the way. You’ll travel through all the charming villages of the Peninsula, including Seaview, Klipsan, Long Beach, Ocean Park, Oysterville and Nahcotta. Each village has its own charm and points of interests. At the far north end of the Peninsula stop and check out Ledbetter State Park with expansive view of Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Note that a Discover Pass is required to park at Leadbetter and any of the other State Parks.
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