We’d been fortunate this year having only been forced to change plans due to weather twice, in February due to snow in the coast range and at the end of our trip to the Elkhorns when thunderstorms forced us to cancel our plans to visit the lookout atop Mt. Ireland. For the third time in the last four years our September vacation coincided with a forecast for snow in the mountains. We had planned a four day trip around and up Diamond Peak, but with a chance of rain or snow showers all four days we decided to turn to our alternate plan which was a trip to Bandon, OR on the Oregon Coast.
We had three stops planned in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on our way down to Bandon. Our first stop was at the Taylor Dunes Trailhead located seven and a half miles south of Florence.
From the small parking area the trail immediately crossed a paved road and passed by Taylor Lake.
After .4 miles we arrived at a viewpoint above the dunes.
From the viewpoint we followed the trail through the sand for half a mile to a signed junction.
We turned right here on a half mile trail that passed through a forest behind a foredune before arriving at the Pacific Ocean.
After reaching the ocean we returned to the junction and turned right to complete a loop through the Carter Lake Campground.
The final .4 miles of the loop was along the paved campground road.
Our second stop was at Lake Marie, about 18 miles south of Taylor Dunes, in the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. We parked at the Lake Marie Trailhead and set off on the 1 mile loop clockwise around the lake.
The fishermen around the lake had some competition from the local wildlife.
Just under a mile around the lake a short spur trail led to a viewpoint overlooking more dunes.
We completed the loop and then decided to walk the tenth of a mile up Lighthouse Road to see the Umpqua River Lighthouse.
A viewpoint at the lighthouse looked out to the mouth of the Umpqua River.
There was also a gray whale jawbone nearby.
After visiting the lighthouse we returned to our car and continued south on Highway 101 for another 5.5 miles to the signed John Dellenback Dune Trailhead.
The trail left the parking area and immediately crossed Eel Creek on a footbridge.
The trail passed a marshy area where a great blue heron was looking for breakfast.
At the quarter mile mark the trail crossed a paved road in Eel Creek Campground.
In just .2 more miles the trail left the trees and entered the dunes.
Poles marked the route of the trail through the shifting sands of the dunes, but we began to doubt that we were really supposed to follow the poles when they began to veer to the north (right) of a tree island. The GPS appeared to show the trail passing to the south (left) of that island.
There were footprints leading to both sides of the trees so we decided to trust the GPS and headed to the left.
When we reached the vegetation of the deflation plain just under two miles from the trailhead we were unable to find any sign of a trail. We did however find a lupine still in bloom.
We attempted to locate some sign of a trail in the area shown on the GPS but each time we thought we might have found a way through the brush it got too dense to continue. We worked our way north along the edge of the vegetation for nearly half a mile where we finally spotted some signs.
For the next three quarters of a mile the trail passed through a variety of scenery before reaching the ocean.
We followed the beach south for about a mile before turning back.
On the way back we followed the posts along the north side of the island.
We took a side trip up the tallest of the dunes before reaching a junction at the edge of the trees.
We went right at the junction for a half mile to complete a loop back to the trailhead.
With our wandering around this hike came in at 8 miles giving us a total of 12.7 on the day. We ended the day in Bandon where we explored the old downtown and had a wonderful dinner at Foley’s Irish Pub. A good start as far as backup plans go. Happy Trails!
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