Reviewing the photos of the Coos Bay Boardwalk, it appears a serene, idyllic river setting. It was a beautiful sunny day when we stopped, with only a light breeze. The blue water was almost glassy, sparkling in the sunshine. Puffy clouds dotted the air; classy sailboats rested in the harbor. Then my husband added the appropriate sound effects, allowing recall of the true experience: Loud whooshing cars and rumbling logging trucks on the highway that runs parallel. Three piercing cries from the whistle of a train carrying lumber, even closer to us than the road, that sent the older of our two Maltese crawling out of her skin, up his leg, and into the relative safety of his arms. The consistent affront of exhaust fumes rather than salty, clean, aquatic Oregon air.
We steeled ourselves to all of this during our outing, then made it back to our vehicle, navigated an accident, waited in lunchtime Coos Bay traffic through 3 cycles of a stop signal before being able to turn onto the street that would lead us back to our cozy campsite past Charleston. We literally felt like we had escaped from the area. The visit had rattled my nerves more than calmed, and when we returned to Sunset Bay we all (us and both Maltese) crashed on a blanket dropping layers of freshly accumulated tension into the sand beneath, recovering from the sensory assault, releasing anxiety into the waves gently rippling nearby.
We moved to the central Oregon coast from sunny, boisterous So Cal for a slower pace and clean air. After seven years we’ve certainly become accustomed to a relaxed atmosphere. For someone attuned to city life, the hustle of Coos Bay would likely not seem so harsh. The boardwalk, once reached, is easy to traverse. The water, fishing and pleasure craft are amusing attractions. Ample signage offers history lessons, while a creative wood-engraved floor map elaborates the local geography. If you aren’t as sensitive to clamor and commotion as we have become, don’t let our experience dissuade you. (But if you are, you may prefer an alternate venue.)
The boardwalk, carved out along a section of the working Coos Bay waterway, was clearly well-planned, with an eye for allowing lengthy bayside enjoyment. Abundant benches and picnic tables, all with bay views, are dispersed at intervals allowing folks to lounge with food or a book. Once reached, the broad, level boards and pavement are optimal for a lengthy promenade.
|Terrain: Pavement to cross road, then over two sets of sunken train tracks, then 3 shallow stairs with rails to reach a flat boardwalk. The stairs can be avoided, by taking a longer route via a ramp.|
|Seating: 100 steps from parking to first bench. Then seating options within 50 steps. Picnic tables are available in the open and under cover. Note that the large building with the map floor has no seating.|
|Restrooms: No. The nearest are across the road and north a block at the Visitor Center.|
|Directions: Located along the north-only portion of Highway 101 in Coos Bay, the parking lot is where Anderson Avenue and Highway 101 (this section also called South Bayshore Drive) intersect. The crosswalk at the light is used to cross the highway.|