From the Blog

Travel Tuesday: Youngs River Falls

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The summer weather in Astoria isn’t as regulated and predictable as in Portland. We have noted towering clouds, squalls of rain and dramatic sun breaks all in the same day. And of course, we get thick blankets of clouds and wet weather that endures for days. Last week, while Portland was sunny, we were squeezing the rain out before the clouds passed over the Coast Range. You’re welcome, Portland.

We took one of those days last week to walk through one of the neighborhoods on the hill in town. We had just come off two or three days of rain. We huffed and puffed through hillside streets with prim yards, modest older houses and vast, sweeping views of the Columbia. To get home, we took a path through the woods at the end of a dead end road. Not that I needed reminding, but I was really struck that we live in a rainforest. We really do. Everything grows here. And the green is so alive it feels electric.

I also noticed in the woods, picking our way down a muddy path, that the hills are not stable. I learned from reading this book that the hills and mountains of the Coast Range are mostly ocean sediments, not really solid rock. And the hills of Astoria are made of mudstone, which is more like grease than stone. Even with all the vegetation holding everything in place, the hills are in a constant state of melting. There are landslides in the middle of town.

This week, we looked ahead to a sunny day and decided to drive out to Youngs River Falls, about 10 miles south of Astoria. We drove by Youngs Bay, and the road got narrower and more rural. We followed Youngs River into rolling hills, then green farmland, then mossy forests. It was awful purdy. I could get me a cabin in a place like this. But maybe on stilts, because I think a tsunami would probably reach pretty far inland here.

We followed the signs to a dead end street with a clearing for parking. It was warm, but the sun was hazy and the humidity felt tropical. We picked our way down a steep path.

This was not a well maintained park. There were informational displays, but they were shot to hell with bullet holes and buckshot. I gathered that since it was so out-of-the-way, it probably doesn’t get many tourists or non-local visitors.

The wet western third of Oregon is one of those places where if humans suddenly disappeared, nature would quickly rise and voraciously swallow our remnants. It’s like living in a Talking Heads song.

Green. Green, green green. We heard the falls through the trees.

The river has scoured a clearing and produced a perfect little oasis. Away from the trees, we noticed a stiff breeze blowing over the falls. It smelled like the ocean.

Here are some real rocks. There were calm little pools that would be perfect for swimming. I don’t know if it ever gets hot enough around here that you’d want to go for a swim.

Do your toesies care to take a dip?

What an exceedingly lovely place.

There was even a troll’s lair. This is the kind of place you could leave your kids if they misbehave. “Okay junior. We’re leaving you here so the troll can eat you for dinner.”

But this place is so cool, the kid would probably say, “Okay! Bye!”

More info and directions here.


  1. Wow! I would bring some lawn chairs, lunch and a book and sit on the river shore, watching the stream pass by. Awesome pictures!

  2. Eric Wysk says

    Or just a fishing pole

  3. Aunty Laurie says

    I LOVE your Travel Tuesdays, I wish I had a job like yours !!! Are you hiring???

  4. This place looks like heaven.

  5. Hi Heather,

    I enjoyed reading your post about Youngs Falls. I went there a few weeks back on two separate occasions. The second trip a crazy raccoon came at me and scared the piss out of me!! I wanted to ask you, how far is the trail leading down to the bottom of the falls and is it easy down and easy up? I shot with my Canon EOS Rebel from the signage. I will bring someone with me on my third trip as I cried like a baby in my truck after that episode :(

    • Hi Monica. Thanks for reading. I don’t recall that the path was very long. Five minutes or so. I do remember a steep part just as you get to the river. But it was easy to pick your way down there.

      Do be sure to go back, it was lovely! And do bring a friend, it’s a pretty remote place.

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