Exploring Nature and History at the Mouth of the Columbia River – Part I

As the title may imply, this blog post is going to be a lengthy one, packed with several photos. As some of you may recall from a previous post, I visited the Cape Disappointment State Park, located in southwestern Washington State, situated at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River. There are separate sections of the park, both on the Washington and Oregon side of the river. I visited Cape Disappointment, located on the Washington side, and I returned there again this past week to complete my exploration of the area. There are two lighthouses in this park. Last time, I visited the North Head Lighthouse, which faces the Pacific Ocean. This time around, I hiked the trail to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, which faces the entrance of the Columbia River into the Pacific Ocean. It is a 1 mile round trip hike, with some steep ups and downs. Good hiking boots and trekking poles help. Trust me … do not wear flip-flops! I can’t tell you how many times I have encountered people wearing them while hiking and not having a good time.

Anyway, the trail is in a mini coastal rain forest. The forest is lush and green from all the moisture it gets from the mist and foggy weather that clings to the coastline. This particular morning was no different. It was a surrealistic experience to meander through this moisture-dripping forest, complete with large, old evergreen trees, such as Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock, and luxuriant moss hanging from tree limbs. Some of the trees have grotesque shapes to their trunks and roots.


Along the trail, there is an overlook into a very picturesque Deadman’s Cove. Notice the fort-like structure that someone built from driftwood lying on the beach, in the last photo.


The last leg of the trail is up a steep, concrete paved, narrow road that leads up to the old lighthouse. It is not in use anymore, but the nearby US Coast Guard station maintains weather station equipment, etc. As luck would have it, I happened upon a family of deer feeding next to the lighthouse.


The view from the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is breathtaking. Watch below as the ocean waves splash against the rocks and cliffs. Upon one huge sea rock is a rookery of Cormorants. Notice their white excrement painted over the rock. The smell is quite noticeable. On top of the cliff, obscured by fog, is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which is where I visited next.


Upon returning from the lighthouse trail, I immediately ventured up another, shorter trail to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. This was my first visit inside. And, I must tell you that it is definitely worth the time to explore. As you know, this site was the end of the trail for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The interpretive center traces the expedition from its start to its finish with large, exquisite wall panels of drawings and text, along with other exhibits that depict the trials and tribulations of the expedition party. The panels wind their way downward into the building. At the end,  you go up a flight of stairs to a large maritime exhibit room, complete with a huge, wooden life boat and lighthouse lantern. I found the whole experience quite enlightening. If you enjoy American history, I highly recommend a visit here.


To be continued

© Peggy A Thompson

About northwestphotos

A long time resident of Washington State, located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest USA. I enjoy regional travel, exploring all the wondrous, natural settings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. If you get a chance, visit my Northwestphotos Zazzle store, http://www.zazzle.com/northwestphotos.
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6 Responses to Exploring Nature and History at the Mouth of the Columbia River – Part I

  1. Excellent, Dear Peggy, excellent.

  2. Astonishing shots, Peggy. I know so much about their journey, but I’d still be learning things, being there.

  3. Excellent post, both the information and the photos! I’ll be looking forward to the next installment.

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