Iconic Haystack Rock rises 235 feet from the surf in Cannon Beach. (Photo credit: Larry Geddis)

Leave the bustling center of Portland for a journey down the Columbia River, through the Coast Range and out to the beautiful beaches and friendly towns of the Oregon Coast. This route will take you west along the Columbia River into the maritime town of Astoria, south to Cannon Beach and then back to the city by way of forested state lands.

Portland to Scappoose
Portland is great point of departure for visiting the Oregon Coast. While your car is charging up at Portland’s Electric Avenue at Portland State University, get a jolt of caffeine from Park Avenue Café, or stop in at Rescue Bagels for something to nosh on during the drive.

Take 405 North to Highway 30 westbound. As you leave the city, notice the verdant hills of Forest Park on your left. In 20 miles you’ll find yourself in the town of Scappoose (pop. 6,599). Take time out to explore Scappoose Bay on a tranquil kayak paddle. The secluded watershed, which is an inlet of the Columbia River, is full of migrating birds, beaver, osprey, otters, turtles, heron, eagles and other wildlife. You can take a guided tour with Scappoose Bay Kayaking or rent a boat to head out by yourself. If you need a charge, there is an EV station at the local Fred Meyer. Continue west on Highway 30 for 75 miles to Astoria. Along the way you’ll pass through the Coast Range and catch glimpses of the mighty Columbia.

Astoria
Driving into Astoria, you’ll see the wide mouth of the Columbia River as it spills toward the Pacific Ocean. Astoria has a maritime flavor like no other Oregon Coast town. Settled in 1811 as basecamp for the Pacific Fur Company, Astoria remains a working port town. You can watch large cargo freighters pass under the soaring span of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. (Some of the best views of the bridge are from the luxurious Cannery Pier Hotel.) Stroll the waterfront to see the docked fishing boats, or steep yourself in maritime history at the Columbia River Maritime Museum and the newly opened Barbey Maritime Center for Research and Industry. From here you can walk to Fort George Brewery or Wet Dog Café for some of the best beer on the Coast.

For a bird’s eye view of the town and the river, you can climb up the 164 steps of the 125-foot Astoria Column on the city’s hilltop. Charge your electric vehicle at Sunset Empire Transit District, 900 Marine Dr. For people fuel, you’ll get great breakfast at the Blue Scorcher Bakery Café and beer-battered albacore tuna at Bowpicker Fish & Chips, which is housed in a converted gill net boat.
Back on the road, head south on Highway 101. Stop at the Fort Clatsop National Memorial at Lewis and Clark National Memorial Park to learn how the Corps of Discovery survived the Oregon winter here in 1805. From the fort you can walk the 6.5-mile Fort to Sea Trail to experience the same forests, meadows and beaches Lewis and Clark explored. Visit the bones of the shipwrecked Peter Iredale at a nearby beach where it ran aground in 1906.

Seaside and Cannon Beach
The 25-mile drive from Astoria to Cannon Beach takes you right down Highway 101 along the Pacific Ocean. Passing through friendly little towns like Gearhart (pop. 1,467) and Seaside (pop. 6,476), you’ll begin to appreciate the state law that makes all 363 miles of the Coast open to the public.

Enjoy Seaside’s 1.5-mile beachfront promenade, where you can get a bite to eat, visit the Seaside Aquarium and check out the reconstructed salt works of Lewis and Clark. After you’ve strolled the beach and had your fill of people watching, drop by Seaside Brewing Company downtown for a pint of craft beer and some fish tacos.
Stop at Ecola State Park for gorgeous views of the ocean and the potential for spotting migrating gray whales. (The park is one of 24 whale-watching sites established by the state.) Hike the trail to Indian Beach to watch surfers catching waves and stroll the beach in search of tidepools.

Just four miles further on you’ll find yourself in downtown Cannon Beach (pop. 1,695). The quaint town is a walker’s delight, full of boutiques, cafes and restaurants. If you are up for a long walk, Hug Point, five miles south on the beach, has an unexpected, 12-foot waterfall. Iconic Haystack Rock (235-feet) rises out of the surf at the central section of the beach. Part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, it’s a wonderful place to watch tufted puffins, gulls and cormorants, or peer into tide pools teeming with life. In the evening, watch the bonfires flicker to life one by one.
Perk up with a cup of coffee at Sleeping Monk Coffee Roasters and a fresh pastry or scone at Waves of Grain Bakery, which also serves great wraps and soups.Stop for dinner at The Lumberyard Grill & Rotisserie. If you’re staying overnight, Cannon Beach has great many lodging options. Check out the family-friendly Surfsand Resort orthe romantic Stephanie Inn. Charge your vehicle at the Cannon Beach RV Resort.

Banks to Portland
The 80-mile drive back to Portland from Cannon Beach will take you along Highway 26 and through the town of Banks (pop. 1,813). Find an EV charging station at Jim’s Thriftway at 660 S. Main Street. You’ll find yourself close to Banks-Vernonia State Trail, a 21-mile paved biking trail that was Oregon’s first rails-to-trails project. If you’re in the mood for a ride, the route passes lovely wooded sections. From here, you’re just a stone’s throw from Portland city limits.

Editor’s note: Check out our other Oregon’s Electric Byways Road Trips for more EV itineraries around the state.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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  1. John Chapman says…

    You forgot to mention the Aeroenvironment charger in Astoria, within walking distance of cannery row!

    Written on July 13th, 2013 / Flag this Comment
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