The Port of Siuslaw is a local stomping ground and an event hub for Florence. It can be quiet and solitary on a winter weekday or full of hustle and bustle on a sunny weekend. During special events such as Rhododendron Days, which heralds in the Oregon coast summer season with festivities including carnival, parade, and Harleys galore, it can be downright rowdy.
Boardwalk, marina, docks, and river, toss in weather, tide level, day of week, and time of year, and you have an ever-changing outdoor varietal blend that makes the Port of Siuslaw worth repeated visits.
Note: I originally wrote about the Florence Boardwalk in 2012, but Port improvements since then make it worth a refresh.
The Florence boardwalk at the Port of Siuslaw is a fabulous walking destination. Easy to negotiate terrain and well-spaced benches allow walks of custom lengths while viewing the picturesque marina. The breezy ocean air and close proximity to the Suislaw River are refreshing and restorative.
On summer weekends and during special events, the grassy patch between the boardwalk and parking area hosts a modest outdoor market where locally grown produce and other finds can be had from amiable vendors.
|Terrain:||Pavement, sidewalk, brick, and decking. All level, except for a curb from the parking lot to the sidewalk (which can be avoided if you walk to the corner).|
|Seating:||Four benches with backs, placed as indicated on the destination map|
|Fee: No fee|
|Restrooms:||During the summer months there are sometimes port-a-potties in the grass adjacent the parking lot. Even when present, they are often locked. I have indicated the other public restrooms on the map, but they are both a significant distance from the boardwalk.|
|Directions:||Head east from the Old Town indicator on the map to the boardwalk parking lot. The closest parking is the west end of the lot. You can vary the length of the walk by parking farther away though. The path indicated on the map is my preferred route. Although you can loop back to the parking lot, I always return via the boardwalk. I’d rather be nearer the water, and continuing to have seating options is also nice.|
You can walk just above the steel blue water of the Siuslaw River if you descend to the Port of Siuslaw docks via a ramp from the boardwalk or in town by Mo’s restaurant. Ramp gradient depends on the tide, high tide favoring a shallower slope.
Head to either end of the boardwalk to access a ramp that lands in the quaint marina, where you can wend your way between moored fishing, sailing, and leisure watercraft. A recent addition is a three-masted tall ship replica, huge by comparison with the other vessels. Boats just in from the open sea often prepare fresh catches for walk-up customers. Susie, the resident fabricated loch ness, floats near the crab market when it is open for business. If your timing is right, you might see a seal chasing small fish in the shallows or sunning his tummy while floating on the surface.
A third ramp, next to Mo’s restaurant, leads to the west end of the docks. From these newer platforms you can see the colorful backsides of Old Town’s waterfront stores, what’s left of the retired Florence ferry landing, and the Siuslaw River Bridge that made the ferry obsolete.
Both sections of dock join behind Mo’s, creating a longer walk. The docks have no seating, so if you need rest stops, the Mo’s route is recommended. It’s about 200 steps from the bench under the trees near the top of the ramp to the end of the west dock, although you can choose to turn around sooner.
|Terrain:||Ramp with railings; steepness depends on tide. Level, wide docks, narrower in sections due to stabilizing pillars.|
|Fee: No fee|
|Restrooms:||During the summer months there are port-a-potties in the grass adjacent the boardwalk parking lot. Even when present, they are often locked. Restrooms near the top of the ramp by Mo’s are just west on a small deck area.|
|Directions:||The boardwalk ramps are accessed from the boardwalk. See the Boardwalk details above. The ramp by Mo’s is west of the boardwalk on Bay Street before it intersects with Maple Street.|