May 2012: Fort Clatsop National Memorial

Astoria, Oregon

Eighteen months after setting out, the Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean. With winter on the doorstep they quickly built a shelter of two rows of wooden huts behind the dunes. Lewis and Clark would not leave Fort Clatsop for home until March 23, 1806, having established an American presence in the Pacific Northwest that would lead to the first American settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River by fur trader John Jacob Astor only five years later. 

The original Fort Clatsop rotted away by the mid-1800s. The National Park Service rebuilt many of the huts - using frontier tools and methods typical of the age - and it now serves as the linchpin for 12 parks and sites that comprise the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park. Here you can take one of the most historical hikes with your dog anywhere in America - the 6.5-mile Fort To Sea Trail that follows the route members of the expedition took to the Pacific Ocean, although you don’t have to forge muddy lowlands and bogs. The trail snakes its way through tall forests, sneaks under US 101 and crosses ocean dunes. Makes you wonder how many times Seaman, the expedition dog, ran this way to get to the Pacific Ocean.

Take Highway 26 West to Seaside. Go North on Highway 101 through Seaside. Go straight through the light at Ensign and take your next right. Continue to Fort Clatsop road, turn right, the entrance will be on your left.