Come with us on a driving tour of one of Oregon’s newest scenic and historic byways. From the highest point in the Coast Range to the broad, sandy beaches of the Central Coast, follow the Alsea River on a delightfully meandering 72-mile driving tour from Corvallis to Waldport.
The byway begins near Interstate 5 and Tangent, where farmers established the state’s first grange. The agriculturally abundant Willamette Valley produces most of the nation’s turf grass seed, along with hazelnuts, berries, mint and many other crops.
Oregon State University, in neighboring Corvallis, has long been a leader in farming and forestry research. The lively college town hosts a roster of arts, music, lectures and sporting events throughout the year.
Marys Peak Road ascends past waterfalls and stonework lookouts toward Marys Peak summit. At 4,097 feet/1,249 meters, it’s the highest point in the Oregon Coast Range. In late spring and summer, wildflowers dapple the summit meadows. Hiking trails stitch through this designated Scenic Botanical Special Interest Area, with views that encompass a string of Cascade peaks and the distant Pacific.
The byway follows the Alsea River through its verdant valley and little burgs like Alsea, settled by pioneers traveling the Applegate Trail. The second spur, South Fork Road, to the Alsea Falls Recreational Site, with a campground and trails along the lovely stair-step falls. Nearby, mountain bikers enjoy a growing network of single-track at the Fall Creek State Recreation Area, named by the Bureau of Land Management as one of their top 20 mountain-bike destinations in the nation.
The Alsea River slows and widens into Alsea Bay as it approaches coastal Waldport. The sandy flats under Waldport’s Alsea Bridge are a top spot for crabbing and clamming. At the foot of the bridge, the Alsea Bay Historic Interpretive Center offers crabbing and clamming demonstrations, and exhibits about the artistic bridges of the Oregon Coast. The byway concludes here, at the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.
This tour is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Transportation and Travel Oregon and made possible with editorial direction by Visit Corvallis and Siuslaw Forest Service.
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