Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ilwaco, Washington Winter Day - Discovery Trail Hike and Hearty Breakfast

Much of the Long Beach Peninsula’s Discovery Trail takes you along the beach. But a recent addition leads walkers and bikers through a beautiful coastal forest, past wetlands and on to an overlook. You can keep following the trail through scenic Cape Disappointment and then join the beach dunes section of the trail at Long Beach.

I parked at Main Street and 2nd Avenue in Ilwaco, a beautiful fishing village. Before my hike I noticed signs outside the Portside Café at 303 1st Avenue S and thought it might be worth a try after I worked up an appetite.

This segment of the trail begins after you climb a road to the trailhead. You’ll see boardwalks taking you through the woods and on to a wide asphalt trail. This segment is ideal for biking if you don’t mind a few hills and great for walkers. I walked my dog up and down the undulating trail passing views of the wetlands, trickling streams with “skunk cabbage” blooming and on to open lands with a picnic table close to the road.

The habitat changes as you walk. In one damp and shaded area, orange-bellied brown newts were slowly crossing the road. They are pretty little amphibians so I kept my dog away from them and was careful where I walked.

Much of the trail is shaded by trees.  The fern-filled forest floor with small streams meandering through it might make for a cool walk on a summer day. We continued to the Beard’s Hollow overlook and then turned around to walk back to our starting point.

After walking carefully down the steep road, I was, indeed, ready for a hearty meal. I was greeted by Deb and Lauri, new owners of the Portside Café. They were baking bread and serving up late breakfasts.

They explained that they were excited about this new venture and were making improvements to the menu and sourcing locally more than before.

The white board listed an enticing Pork Sirloin and Eggs breakfast for only $10. I opted for their homemade bread made into French toast accompanied by bacon, cooked just right.

Portside Café will make a box lunch for you to take on your hike or serve as a great reward after a Discovery Trail walk or bike ride. And, since Ilwaco is a fishing village, the duo plans to open as early as 4 a.m. to serve the fishermen.

This will be an establishment worth watching as they implement all their ideas.

About the Discovery Trail
Tree sculpture at the end of the Discovery Trail
The Discovery Trail stretches 8 miles from Ilwaco, Wash., through Cape Disappointment State Park north to Long Beach. You can hike the entire trail or travel segments from one of the many trailheads. Portions of the trail are open to bikes.

The trail winds through coastal forest and wetlands at Beards Hollow in Cape Disappointment, then travels along the dunes north past Long Beach.

The trail segment in Long Beach has four key monuments related to the Corps of Discovery's exploration of the area: a 9-foot etched basalt monolith, a gray whale skeleton, a life-size bronze of Clark with sturgeon and Clark's Tree, a 19-foot bronze sculpture noting the most Northwest point the Corps reached on its trip.