Wandering the Oregon Coast: Bay City Highlights

Written by Teresa Bergen

July 13, 2017
Home >> Travel >> Adventure Travel >> Wandering the Oregon Coast: Bay City Highlights

Riding a pedal-powered car down old railroad tracks, walking in a nature reserve and staying overnight in a tiny house—well, that’s an ideal overnight trip for me. And I found it all in an unlikely place: while wandering tiny Bay City (population 1292) on the Oregon Coast.

I’ve visited the coast many times, but I still get the little towns confused. So when Visit Tillamook Coast agreed to host my stay in Bay City, I wasn’t sure where it was. Once I got there, I recognized the pretty settlement on Tillamook Bay, five miles north of Tillamook, as one of the Oregon Coast’s biggest cities. I'd been through Bay City many times, but this was the first time I stopped. I'm glad I did.

Bay City Oregon sign

Welcome to Bay City! Photo by Teresa Bergen

Staying at the Sheltered Nook in Bay City

After running a B&B for a few years, Dee and Mark Harguth decided that both they and their guests could do with a little more privacy. So last year they opened Sheltered Nook, Bay City’s tiny house hotel.

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Sheltered Nook Bay CIty Oregon

Approaching the tiny house paradise of Sheltered Nook. Photo by Teresa Bergen

The response has been terrific. “Our guests love the fact that they can be communal as well as having their own space.”

Sheltered Nook Bay City Oregon

One cute little house at Sheltered Nook. Photo by Teresa Bergen

While the houses are small, tiny is an exaggeration. At under 400 square feet, my little house wasn’t cramped at all. There’s plenty of room to do yoga in the living room, and you won’t get claustrophobia in the kitchen. The sleeping loft has a four-foot ceiling, so it’s just for sleeping and lounging on the beds. If my tiny house had been full to capacity—three queen beds can sleep a total of six—space would be too tight for my liking. But a single, couple, or small family will have ample space.

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Sheltered Nook Bay City Oregon tiny house

Tiny house interior at Sheltered Nook. Photo by Teresa Bergen

Sheltered Nook has all the mod cons, including lots of electrical outlets, microwave, and TV. The kitchen is stocked with microwave popcorn, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Dee makes breakfast baskets tailored to the needs of each guest. My vegan basket had a breakfast burrito and fruit.

Kilchis Point Reserve in Bay City

A block or two from the Sheltered Nook, Kilchis Point Preserve boasts the most interpreted trail I’ve ever walked. If you stop and read every sign, you’ll get a pretty good grasp on the area’s history, flora, and fauna on your one-mile walk to Tillamook Bay.

Kilchis Point Reserve Bay City Oregon

Entering Kilchis Point Reserve. Photo by Teresa Bergen

Ferns tightly pack both sides of the trail, so I hoped that the black bears and cougars—as seen on interpretive signs—wouldn’t be able to squeeze through to attack me. The easy walk starts out paved with brick, then switches to gravel. And if you need a rest, it has a record number of memorial benches.

Kilchis Point Reserve Bay City Oregon

The easy trail at Kilchis Point. Photo by Teresa Bergen

I took the Flora and Fauna Trail on my way to the bay, and the Native American Trail back. Here are my favorite fun facts, courtesy of the interpretive signs:

  • In 1855, early settlers built a ship called the Morning Star of Tillamook to take their dairy products to market in Portland and Astoria. They only kept it a year and a half before having to sell it to pay off debts, but its image graced the label of the Tillamook County Creamery Association in the 1960s.
  • From 1855 through 1866, men in the community took turns making a monthly mail run to Astoria—and carrying the mail home on their backs.
  • Local Native American hunters wore a basketry decoy on their heads, then waded into the estuary. When they got close to a duck, they’d grab its feet and hold it under until it drowned.
Kilchis Point Tillamook Bay - Bay City

Tillamook Bay, at the end of the trail. Photo by Teresa Bergen

Oregon Coast Railriders in Bay City

Bay City is one of only two places in Oregon—and very few in the world—where you can try the odd activity of rail riding. Rail riding is a hybrid of biking and a scenic train ride. It entails pedaling four-person carts down old railroad tracks.

Oregon Coast Railriders Bay City

The specially made rail cart seats four. Photo by Teresa Bergen

Oregon Coast Railriders opened last year, the brainchild of bike tourism promoters and entrepreneurs Kim and Anita Metlen. They live in eastern Oregon, where they run the Joseph Branch Railriders.

I joined a group of 20 assorted people to rail ride on a Monday morning in early June. Tours accommodate up to 38 folks, and in the peak season they sell out three tours a day, five days a week. I got to sit in the very front with Nate Bell, who co-manages the Oregon Coast Railriders with his wife Tara. A couple from Bend completed our foursome.

Oregon Coast Railriders Bay City

Looking goofy in our high-visibility apparel. Photo by Teresa Bergen

Rail riding was more relaxing than riding a bike. Since nothing else runs on this track, we didn’t have to contend with traffic except for road crossings. Then our two guides got out and halted traffic for us with stop signs. At one crossing, they activated railroad gates.

The 12-mile round-trip is fairly flat, so pedaling wasn’t too much work, and the seat was comfortable. We took in views of Tillamook Bay, estuaries, meadows, and native coastal plants. I loved looking down at the old tracks and crossing two-century-old railroad bridges. We also got to see—and smell—some of Tillamook County's enormous dairy operations.

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The tiny town of Bay City as your Oregon Coast destination? Who knew? I’m sold on this community as a perfect place to overnight not far out of Portland, Oregon.

Ride pedal-powered cars down old railroad tracks, walk in a nature reserve and stay in a tiny house—find it all in the coastal town of Bay City, Oregon. #Oregon #PNW #BayCity #PacificNorthWest #Travel

Written by Teresa Bergen

Teresa Bergen is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer and web content developer who specializes in health, fitness and travel. Her articles appear on/in MSN.com, Spirituality & Health, India Currents, Whole Life Times Magazine, Pique, Yogi Times, the South China Morning Post, travelandleisure.com and many other print and online publications. Teresa is the author of Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide and Meditations for Gym Yogis and writes a blog called Veg Travel and Fitness. She’s also the vegetarian/vegan editor of Real Food Traveler. Teresa belongs to the Society of American Travel Writers and the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association. In addition to writing, Teresa is a yoga teacher and ACE-certified personal trainer, and health coach.

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  1. Carol

    There’s even a excellent place to eat in down town Bay City. Called Downies Cafe, home cooked food. Cinnamon rolls that are homemade, pies , everything is so good there..They are only open till 3pm everyday.
    We have the brightly colored 2nd hand/Antique store across from them. The railriders are only 2 blocks from us from hwy 101.We are on 5th street which is the main drag of our small town…
    There’s also a park which has camping, which few people realize is there…

  2. Teresa Bergen

    Thanks for the tips, Carol! I’ll have to return and explore further.

  3. Anita Metlen

    Thank you Teresa for a great article about Oregon Coast Railriders. We invite you to visit NE Oregon to ride the rails on Joseph Branch Railriders.

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