Unlike the Waterfront Trail, the Airport Dike Trail is not paved, and is also not near any busy roads except at its end points. The trail is slightly longer than two miles, and runs along the top of a short dike that protects the small Warrenton Airport from the possibility of storm surges in Young's Bay.
The area along the Airport Dike Trail is mostly the marshland that borders Youngs Bay. At the south end of the trail there is very limited viewing out into the bay itself due to the marshland between the dike and the bay. At the north end of the trail, there is much less between the water (or tidal mud flats if it is low tide) and the trail.
If you are into bird watching or other wildlife observation, you will find a mixture along the Dike Trail in the marshland. If you have good optics and are visiting in the winter, there is a very good chance of observing everything from shore birds to ocean ducks to the occasional pelagic bird out on the bay. Viewing is somewhat better somewhat close to high tide as some of the birds get pushed towards the trail, but at the same time they also scatter due to the higher water line providing more area over which to feed.
In most places the trail is a rutted gravel road with grass between the two tracks. You may get your feet wet, but for the most part it is possible to find a gravel route around the mud puddles that fill the holes in places.
It would be really nice if there were more benches and picnic tables along this route to allow some rest and observation of wildlife. It would also be nice if there were a few observation areas that allowed a closer look at the bird life out on Young's Bay. However, I am mostly content to just have a trail that does not force pedestrians out onto busy high speed highways without any sort of segregation from auto traffic (which is what the Waterfront Trail does).
The parking area at the southeast end of the trail, closest to the old Business Loop of 101 bridge, is fairly limited and somewhat primitive. It makes use of an old segment of highway that was abandoned when the curve to the bridge was adjusted. Getting out of here may be challenging if your vehicle is exceptionally low riding, and the visibility is a bit limited due to the bridge hump and curve here.
This small park sits on the edge of the Columbia River. It has an observation deck that overlooks the wide mouth of the Columbia River. There is one picnic shelter, a small off-leash dog area, and open grass.
The Waterfront Trail passes through the park on its way west, and for approximately 1/2 a mile (3/4 of a km) the trail serves as an extension to this park westward along the water.
To the east of the park, there is a wood processing facility named Warrenton Fibre. During the weekdays this facility adds to the noise in the park, but at the same time may be of interest to those who have not seen a lumber processing plant up close before.
Barges of wood chips leave the plant any day of the week, including when the plant is not operating.
While mostly of local interest, this park may serve as a good stopover point for those wishing to have a look at the Columbia River side of the Warrenton Peninsula from the observation deck on the north side of the park.
The park has a park host all year, and if available
The good news is that Warrenton is starting to develop a public park and trail system.
The bad news is that their Waterfront Trail leaves a little to be desired in terms of how it routes people onto busy and fast Warrenton Road, which has no shoulders and has a blind curve at one of the sections where it is routed onto the road.
It is a shame that so much of this trail is made difficult to use by the sections of it that are along a busy road. I can see where it might be possible to use it as a bike path as at least with a bicycle you are running parallel to the traffic rather than against it. However, as a pedestrian the segments where the trail goes onto the busy road made it feel quite uncomfortable and unsafe to use.
Yet, the places where the trail is not routed onto busy Warrenton Road are reasonably pleasant, and in fact in places the trail offers a very good recreation option - if only for relatively short distances.
We can hope that eventually the discontinuous pieces are one day completed with trail segments that get people off of this horrifically busy road that makes those segments of the trail that are wonderful to use somewhat more usable and enjoyable as a trail system.
The Waterfront Trail starts near the Astoria to Warrenton Bridge across the mouth of Young's Bay. Most major trail intersections and trailheads have a three-sign post: at the top showing the fact the trail exists at that point, then a list of trail conduct rules, and then a map of the specific trail. This sign, for the Waterfront Trail, is shown in photo 3. The southern starting point is in a small park called Lighthouse park. From here the trail wanders down lesser used residential streets, which are not extremely dangerous or unpleasant to use. Near the north end of this little business district the trail runs on 1st Street, and then joins its own right of way, which parallels Warrenton Road for a short distance. There is a parking area for approximately three vehicles at the start of the trail right of way. The trail then goes north to 13th Street, eventually venturing away from Warrenton Drive.
At the end of this separate right of way, the trail joins 13th Street. While there is no separate trail or sidewalks along 13th Street, the road is at least not busy enough to be unsafe to walk along.
However, once 13th intersects Warrenton Drive, the trail enters its most dangerous location. For the next approximately 3 blocks the trail is in Warrenton Drive, with a dangerous blind curve so that auto traffic can not see pedestrians walking along the road very well. The speed limit here is 45 mph, but traffic actually moves far faster than that. I have shown the southern start of this location in Photo 2 of this tip. The trail arrow on the sign post shows the trail running on Warrenton Drive. In the background you can see Warrenton Drive, with no shoulders or other separation between pedestrians and road traffic. You can also see a sign in the very back warning traffic of the very sharp curve which creates a blind spot where traffic and pedestrians on the road can not see each other.
Thankfully, this is only a brief segment of the trail, though quite terrible, and the trail again separates into its own right of way once it enters Eben Carruthers Park. From here, the trail runs along the edge of the Columbia River approximately 10 blocks. It then makes a diversion back onto Warrenton Drive for another 5 blocks or so. While this segment also lacks sidewalks or segregated way of any sort, it is at least straight and it is possible to see traffic.
Once again the trail separates into its own right of way and in the next five blocks or so comes to its end at Seafarers Park, which has a small marina next to it.
Several places along the trail have decent views, especially the segment along the Columbia River near Eben Carruthers Park. The other location with decent views, especially of downtown Astoria, is the location at the intersection of the trail right of way and 13th Street (that is, the opposite end of 13th Street from Warrenton Drive - and away from the noisy traffic!)
1609 E Harbor St, Warrenton, OR 97146
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business