Grant's Getaways: Astoria's Backdoor Byway

Grant's Getaways: Astoria's Backdoor Byway


by Grant McOmie

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 3:56 AM


Little trails often lead to big discoveries and that’s when a camera comes in handy for Oregon’s premier landscape photographer, Steve Terrill.

We strolled along the short graveled trail at Lee Wooden County Park – just off State Highway 202 - and spotted the numerous small signs of the seasonal change; measured by the colorful maple and alder leaves that were in a state of free fall.

Terrill called the blizzard of leaves the “little parts that make a bigger, better picture.”

“I’ve been here a few times, but not since this new trail was completed," said Terrll."Nice and easy, isn’t it? And the creek has a nice flow to it right now – this will be fun.”

Terrill likes to have fun along the little known backdoor byway that connects the valley with the coast through the heart of the Oregon Coast Range Mountains.

He likes to hook up with Highway 202 just off Highway 26 – and slowly wind through the hills and valleys. 

Lee Wooden Park is one of many “photo opps” that Terrill likes to explore on this backroad byway.

He is especially drawn to the stunning and gorgeous Fishhawk Falls that races across the exposed and jagged ancient basalt.

“I capture what nature puts out in front of me,” said the famed photographer. “That is really all I do. Anyone can. Just open your eyes and look at the different things that really make this a natural backdrop for my photography.”

Just a couple miles down the road, really big elk lounged across the grassy meadows of the Jewell Wildlife Area.

Terrill makes the easy-to-reach viewing sites a “must stop” on his trip.

He scanned the scene, searched for movement and soon found the life in the landscape.

“Well, it takes patience for sure – that’s number one!” he said – and with an excited chuckle, quickly added: ”There – there – see that? That’s what I’m looking for!”

Two yearling elk rose up on hind legs and boxed at each with their front legs – it was an elk sparring match as the two youngsters tested each other.

“These are really large animals,” noted Terrill. “And it’s just interesting to see something like this that you don’t see every day.”

It‘s interesting to see one of Oregon’s premier landscape photographers - now on his chosen path for more than three decades - working a favored haunt that anyone can visit.

It’s also fun to pick out the little things that he does to make his photos special.

“First, a tripod – it’s an absolute must and so is the cable release,” said Terrill. “Just for vibration and to be on the safe side because if I’m cold, I could shake the scene and ruin the shot. That’s how I shoot.”

Does he ever! Here’s proof: it is year nine for Steve Terrill’s “All Oregon” Calendar in 2013.  His annual project pays homage to his home state – shot entirely in Oregon by the native son who has it printed here too.

“Well, I was born and raised in Portland and I just absolutely love Oregon! If I can keep the money and the jobs in Oregon, I’m helping a little bit.”

A half hour down the byway, Terrill helps himself to all of the scenery surrounding one of his favorite waterfalls in all of the state: Youngs River Falls.

“There is this band of water pouring out and then it fans out in spellbinding fashion to drop more than sixty feet. It is beautiful and I love it.”

Don’t forget to peer into the shallows just below the falls; mottled black and grey, several 30-pound salmon have muscled their way back to Youngs River and here it is end of the line and now they continued their cycle of life.

This byway unwinds along Youngs Bay at Astoria and Terrill finds that each mile of the trip is terrific and wonderful that so much beauty is so close to so many people.

“If folks only take the time to look – they’ll see what I see too! In my heart, I love to capture images of Oregon and I like to share them with people. I am really blessed to make a living at it too.”