I’ve often been curious about the riverfront in Reedsport. From my perspective, it has always seemed like a lost opportunity; really, you would hardly know that Reedsport was on a river if you didn’t cross it on your way out of town. In the past, our forays down to the river to explore have only revealed an uninviting and unwelcoming industrial area, with nothing “touristy” or of scenic value. Obviously, we were exploring the wrong area. With thanks to the website “100 Steps on the Oregon Coast,” I recently learned about the Umpqua Riverfront Boardwalk. So of course, the next time we drove through Reedsport we took the opportunity to explore.
Located in “Old Town” Reedsport, the Umpqua River Boardwalk provides excellent views of the lower Umpqua River. An added bonus is the view of the railroad bridge which crosses the Umpqua just northwest of the boardwalk.
This short boardwalk starts at a boat ramp and wraps around the Umpqua Discovery Center. When you go, you’ll find interpretive signs about the history of Reedsport, the region, and the native wildlife you might be viewing, plus ample benches and a couple picnic tables. I think it would be a great place to enjoy a picnic or lunch from the nearby cafe, sit back and watch the river flow by. Don’t miss the stairs up to an observational platform on top of the Discovery Center for more views of the river.
It was quiet on the winter day we visited, though 100steps.info caught it on a busier summer day when the boat ramp was in active use and plenty of boats and fisher-folk dotted the river and the docks in front of the boardwalk.
A bonus for me was the amazing view of the Umpqua River Railroad Bridge. I’ve always been intrigued by this swing bridge that spans the Umpqua River. Built in 1914, I consider it a twin to the Cushman Railroad Bridge outside of Florence. Unfortunately, this bridge is barely visible over the guardrail when we drive across the river on Highway 101. From the boardwalk, the views of this bridge are ample. While we were there, it was swung open. The rail line is still open to traffic, and I’d love to watch the bridge swing closed and see a train cross over its 10 spans.
Getting there: Reedsport is just 69 miles from Cottage Grove, heading down the I-5 freeway, then taking Highway 38 to the Coast. We have discovered that street signs appear to be mostly missing in Reedsport. Therefore, once you reach Reedsport, look for and follow signs for the Umpqua Discovery Center. Parking is available in a lot adjacent to the Discovery Center.