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Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

South Slough Reserve and Shore Acres State Park – 05/15/2021

Our third day on the southern Oregon coast was set to be our longest day mileage wise with stops at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and Sunset Bay State Park. The second stop would allow us to hike through that park, Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago State Park.

We started our day parking at the closed (stupid COVID) interpretative center at South Slough Reserve.
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It looked like it would be full of good info and we’ll have to come back someday post pandemic when we can experience it. For now we settled for the trails walking behind the center and picking up the Ten Minute Loop Trail where we turned right.
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After just a tenth of a mile we came to a junction with the Middle Creek Trail where we turned right detouring briefly to check out an opening where in better times talks are given by staff members.
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We followed the Middle Creek Trail downhill through a coastal forest to a road crossing where the Hidden Creek Trail continued on the far side.
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IMG_4526All the bridges had labels consisting of the first initial of the trail and then the bridge number making this the 4th bridge along the Middle Creek Trail.

IMG_4532Interesting seat.

IMG_4536That’s a fancy hat for a stump.

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The Hidden Creek Trail continued downhill following the creek to Hidden Creek Marsh where a series of boardwalks passed through giant skunk cabbage patches. We stayed to the right each time the boardwalks split (they eventually rejoined along the way).
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IMG_4567We saw a lot of rough skinned newts on the trails, but what we were really hopping for was a Pacific Giant Salamander. No luck there this time.

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IMG_4575A few trillium still had petals.

IMG_4593Woodpecker

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We heard a few frogs and we were looking in the skunk cabbage to see if we could spot any. We didn’t see any of the frogs but we did spot several others on the plants.
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IMG_4612A hedgenettle

At the end of Boardwalk 2 the trail became the Tunnel Trail and headed back into the forest.
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After a short climb we came to a nice big observation deck. The view was good but there wasn’t much to observe on this morning.
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We ignored the Big Cedar Trail to the left when we passed it and continued on the Tunnel Trail passing a couple of more viewpoints out to the South Slough. While we had struck out at the observation deck we now could see movement which turned out to be over a half dozen raccoons crossing the mud flats in search of breakfast.
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IMG_4626Tunnel Trail indeed.

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This marked the first time we’d seen raccoons on a hike and we had a lot of fun watching them search for snacks. Shortly after passing some restrooms the trail came to a junction where we headed downhill to a shed and another junction.
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We turned right by the shed passing under an awning to the Sloughside Trail
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We turned right first passing several wooden decks before the trail ended along the slough.
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IMG_4649Castilleja ambigua – Estuarine Paintbrush

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After watching more raccoons from the end of this spur we returned to the shed and took the left hand fork. This spur was a bit longer (still only .1 miles) and passed along a narrow strip between flats.
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>IMG_4665End of the line.

IMG_4666South Slough

IMG_4667It was interesting to see how this uprooted tree peeled back a layer of the ground.

We again returned to the shed staying to the right and crossing a nice bridge on the North Creek Trail.
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IMG_4671Rhoades Marsh

IMG_4673Sloughside Marsh

IMG_4675Rhododendron

A third of a mile along the North Creek Trail we came to the signed .15 mile North Creek Spur.
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We decided to check it out and followed the short trail downhill to a different view of the Sloughside Marsh.
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We returned to the North Creek Trail and followed it uphill back to the Ten Minute Loop Trail where we turned right for a tenth of a mile to the Interpretive Center.
IMG_4691Bleeding heart, fairy bells, and youth-on-age.

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This was an excellent 4 mile hike with 300′ of elevation gain.

South Slough Track

From the Interpretive Center we returned to Seven Devils Road and followed it north to Charleston were we turned left onto the Cape Arago Highway to Sunset Bay State Park, a total of 6.7 miles from the center. We parked at Sunset Bay Middle (there is a North, Middle, and South but we didn’t realize that before we parked) which added a tenth of a mile each way to our hike but we had a nice view of Sunset Beach and Bay.
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We walked over to Sunset Bay South and picked up the Oregon Coast Trail at a bridge over Big Creek.
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The trail climbed to the top of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific as it looped around a large grass clearing that in non-pandemic times acts as a group camp.
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IMG_4731Cape Arago Lighthouse (not on Cape Arago) on Chiefs Island.

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IMG_4743Salal

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IMG_4749The group campsite.

We followed pointers for the Oregon Coast Trail which briefly followed the shoulder of Cape Arago Highway as it passed Norton Gulch.
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On the far side of the gulch the trail veered away from the highway and by staying right at junctions soon got back to the cliffs above the ocean providing some excellent views.
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A long pause in our hike came when we stopped to watch some harbor seals on the rocks below us.
IMG_4790Harbor seals in the lower right hand corner on the rocks.

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Drama was unfolding in front of us as one pup repeatedly attempted to follow its mother up onto the rocks only to slide back into the water. It finally found success and then back into the water they went. Apparently it was just a practice run.
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IMG_4816Success!

After tearing ourselves away from the seal show we continued south along the cliffs.
IMG_4825Paintbrush

IMG_4822Sea thrift

IMG_4834Mariposa lilies

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Just over two miles into the hike we came to the first noticeable remnants of the 1906 estate of timber baron Louis Simpson.
IMG_4849Former tennis courts.

It was windy on the plateau and I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could play tennis in the windy conditions that are often present on the coast.

IMG_4851View near the tennis courts.

IMG_4853These roots explain how some of the trees that look like they should be plunging into the ocean don’t.

IMG_4855Observation Building ahead on the cliff.

The rocks along the coastline here had been pounded and carved by the ocean into some interesting shapes and designs.
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We walked past the Observation Building (closed due to COVID) to a viewpoint overlooking Simpson Cove.
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The Oregon Coast Trail dropped down to the cove before climbing again and continuing onto Cape Arago State Park but before we headed down we wanted to check out the Shore Acres Gardens which were open (limit of 75 persons at a time).
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It was a little early yet for many of the flowers, especially the rose garden, but there was still a lot to see. The most impressive specimens to us were a plant and tree from South America.
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IMG_4929Prickly Rhubarb from Chile

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IMG_4954Monkey Puzzle Tree from South America

IMG_4959The yet to bloom rose garden.

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After winding our way through the gardens we returned to the Oregon Coast Trail and followed it down to Simpson Beach.
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After climbing up from the beach we came to an unsigned junction where we turned right continuing to follow the cliff south for .9 miles to an overlook along the Cape Arago Highway of Simpson Reef.
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IMG_4971Looking back across Simpson Cove to the Observation Building.

IMG_4976Simpson Reef extending into the Pacific.

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There was a lot of action going on out on the reef, in particular on Shell Island where sea lions barked and eagles engaged in aerial combat.
IMG_5001Shell Island in the middle of Simpson Reef.

IMG_4991Sea lions and juvenile bald eagles on Shell Island.

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IMG_5018Harbor seals on the reef.

After watching the action for awhile we continued on our trek by crossing the Highway onto a hiking trail marked by a post.
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After a half mile on this trail we arrived at the Cape Arago Pack Trail.
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Left would loop us back to Shore Acres State Park while heading right would drop us into the main part of Cape Arago State Park. We turned right to check out more of the park and popped out near the South Cove of Cape Arago.
IMG_5031Woolly bear caterpillar

IMG_5032Looking back up the Pack Trail.

A short trail led down to the beach in the South Cove (and possible tidepools) but we were starting to feel the effects of 3 straight days of hiking and having to climb back up from the cove just didn’t sound appealing so we opted to take a break at bench overlooking the cove in a picnic area.
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IMG_5036Plaque near the bench commermorating Sir Frances Drake’s visit to the area in 1579.

IMG_5039Our stalker while we sat at the bench hoping we would leave some food behind (we didn’t).

After the break we continued to follow the parking area around Cape Arago passing Middle Cove and then arriving at the North Cove Trail.
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IMG_5046We thought we might be hearing things, but no it was a rooster crowing.

IMG_5047Stellar’s jay

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We decided to take this trail as it only lost a little elevation on its way to a ridgeend viewpoint with a view of a different side of Shell Island.
IMG_5051North Cove (A trail down to that beach was closed for the season.)

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From the North Cove Trail it was shorter to continue around the parking loop to reach the Pack Trail instead of backtracking so that’s what we did. The Cape Arago Pack Trail gained approximately 300′ in just under a mile to reach its high point at 530′. There had been caution signs regarding storm damage which we found near the high point where a clearcut had left trees overly exposed to winds causing several large ones to be uprooted. Luckily crews had cleared the trail beacuse the size and amount of trees down here would have been very problematic to get past.
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The trail then descended to a small stream crossing before climbing again to a ridgetop.
IMG_5078Heading down.

IMG_5082Going up.

On the ridge we turned left at a junction on an old roadbed which followed the ridge down to the highway passing an old WWII radar installation bunker near the highway.
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IMG_5089The Cape Arago Pack Trail at the highway.

We recrossed the highway here into Shore Acres State Park.
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Just five hundred feet after crossing the road we came to the unsigned junction where we had turned right earlier after climbing up from Simpson Beach only we both missed it. Luckily we realized our mistake less than fifty yards later and got onto the right path. At this point we had hiked 12.5 miles on the day and it was closing in on 3pm due to all our extended breaks and we were getting tired. We decided to take the straightest path back to our car instead of following the Oregon Coast Trail as we had done earlier. We followed the entrance road in Shore Acres to the fee booth where we turned left on an old roadbed that now acts as a trail.
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Going this way shortened our return trip by nearly 3/4 of a mile but it meant missing the views along the cliffs where we had watched the seals earlier. When we reached the Oregon Coast Trail we turned right and followed it back to the group camp at Sunset Bay State Park. We shortened our hike even further here by cutting through the empty camp, a move that shaved another 1/2 mile off the hike. It was a good thing too because our feet were not happy with us when we finally made it back to our car.

Our route through the parks

It had been a great day though with the two hikes combining for a 14.3 mile day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: South Slough Reserve and Shore Acres State Park

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast Trip report

Trail Hopping Down the Southern Oregon Coast – 05/13/2021

Our first big trip of the year was an extended weekend visit to the southern Oregon coast area to finish the remaining featured hikes from Sullivan’s “100 Hikes Oregon Coast & Coast Range” (3rd ed.) as well as a couple from his additional hikes section. For the first day of the trip we had set an ambitious goal of stopping at five different trailheads on the way to our motel in Gold Beach and after checking in continuing almost to the California border for a sixth hike on the Oregon Redwoods Trail. We got our typical early start driving from Salem to Eugene to take Highway 126 toward the coast and our first stop at the Mapleton Hill Pioneer Trailhead .
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The short loop (0.6 miles) on the Pioneer Trail here follows portions of the historic North Fork Trail and Mapleton Hill Road which were early routes connecting Florence and Eugene.
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The trail was in good shape and there were a some wildflowers in bloom to go along with the numerous interpretive signs along the loop.
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IMG_3827Thimbleberry

IMG_3828Salmonberry

IMG_3833McLeod Creek

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IMG_3849One of the sharp turns.

IMG_3840Fairy bells

IMG_3853Columbine

20210513_073907Bleeding heart

20210513_074116Monkeyflower

IMG_3864Sourgrass

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IMG_3861Trillium

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20210513_074727Star flower solomonseal

20210513_074801Twisted stalk

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IMG_3888Wren – We heard lots of birds but didn’t see many of them.

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IMG_3893Waterleaf

After completing the loop we drove west from the trailhead on Road 5070/North Fork Siuslaw Road to Road 5084 which we followed 5 miles to the Pawn Trailhead.
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This was another short loop hike (0.8 miles) which combined with the Pioneer Trail make up featured hike #57 in the 3rd edition (they were moved to the additional hikes section in the 4th edition). This trail suffered some storm damage over the Winter and as of our hike had only been 80% cleared. It is also an interpretive trail but instead of signs there are markers which correspond to information on a brochure that can be downloaded from the Forest Service here. The name “Pawn” was derived from the last names of four families that settled in the area in the early 1900’s – the Pooles, Akerleys, Worthingtons, and Nolans.
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While this trail was relatively close to the Pioneer Trail the presence of the old growth trees gave the hike a different feel.
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IMG_3912Marker for a fire scarred Douglas fir. According to the brochure the last major fire in the area was in the 1860s.

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The storm damage proved to be a bit tricky but it appeared the Forest Service had started a reroute of the trail which we were able to follow.
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IMG_3930We had to climb over this big tree.

We lost the reroute after climbing over the big trunk and had to bushwack our way through some debris before climbing up on a second downed trunk and walking along it to the resumption of the trail. At one point Heather bumped a limb and pine needles exploded over her head like confetti giving us both a good laugh.
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The loop ended shortly beyond the damage and we were soon back at the trailhead. From there we drove west on North Fork Siuslaw Road into Florence. From Florence we took Highway 101 south toward Coos Bay. We turned off a little north of North Bend at a sign for Horsefall Dune and Beach. Our next stop was yet another short loop trail, this time at Bluebill Lake. We parked at the Bluebill Trailhead and set off on the wide trail.
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We went clockwise around the loop. The water level of the lake varies throughout the year but there was a good amount of water now but no flooding which can be an issue in late Winter/early Spring.
IMG_3943Looking at the bridge at the north end of the lake.

IMG_3946Canada geese

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IMG_3964Cormorants flying above the lake.

IMG_3965Cormorant

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IMG_3972Ring necked ducks

IMG_3982Rhododendron

IMG_3986Boardwalk at the south end of the lake.

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IMG_3999Sparrow

IMG_4002Coming up on the bridge at the north end.

IMG_4010Yellow rumped warbler

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After completing the 1.5 mile hike here we returned to Highway 101 and continued south into Coos Bay where we detoured to our fourth stop of the day at Millicoma Marsh. This was an interesting trailhead given that it was right next to a middle school track and field.
IMG_4025The trail on the far side of the track.

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We followed the posted directions and kept to the outside of the grass as we walked around the track to the trail.
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IMG_4028One of three panels on a signboard at the start of the trails.

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<img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51186413813_b626e92da2_c.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" alt="IMG_4030">Woodpecker

Two tenths of a mile from the signboard the grassy track came to a junction. The loop continued to the left but a quarter mile spur trail to the right led to an observation bench. We hiked out to the end of the spur trail before continuing on the loop.
IMG_4031This bench is at the junction.

IMG_4034Sparrow near the junction.

IMG_4035Heading to the observation structure.

IMG_4036Looking toward Coos Bay along the Coos River.

IMG_4037McCullough Memorial Bridge spanning Coos Bay.

IMG_4038Wetlands from the end of the spur.

We returned to the loop and continued counterclockwise around. There wasn’t much wildlife activity which was probably a matter of timing as it looked like an area where we might see quite a bit. In any case the hike was pleasant with nice scenery.
IMG_4039Bitter cherry

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IMG_4044Turkey vulture

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IMG_4048Cormorants overhead

IMG_4052Canada goose with goslings

IMG_4056Buttercups

IMG_4058Pale flax

IMG_4059Arriving back at the field.

Up to this point we had only passed one other hiker all day (at Bluebill Lake) but this area was popular and we ran into over a half dozen other users on this 1.8 mile jaunt.

From Coos Bay we continued south on Hwy 101 for 14.6 miles before turning right onto West Beaver Hill Road at a sign for the Seven Devils Wayside, our next stop. We parked in the large lot where only one other vehicle sat and promptly headed down to the beach.
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IMG_4063Ground squirrel enjoying the view.

IMG_4067Twomile Creek

Our plan here was to hike south along the beach at least as far as Fivemile Point to complete another of Sullivan’s featured hikes. We hopped across the creek using rocks and logs and set off on what is considered possibly the windiest beach along the Oregon coast (it was windy).
IMG_4076Shore bird in the creek.

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The occupant of the other vehicle had headed north so we had this stretch of beach to ourselves, and a few feathered friends.
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The hillside was covered with yellow gorse, an invasive but colorful shrub.
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The gorse wasn’t the only yellow flowers present though.
IMG_4090Brass buttons (another non-native)

We were looking for a side trail up to a viewpoint bench that Sullivan showed as .7 miles from the trailhead just beyond a brown outcrop.
IMG_4078The brown outcrop a little way ahead with Fivemile Point further on.

We couldn’t pick out any trail just several stream beds and seeps so we kept going coming next to a rock spire a short distance from Fivemile Point.
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We passed the spire and continued to Fivemile Point where the ocean was coming up to the rocks effectively creating our turn around point.
IMG_4104Whiskey Run Beach lay on the other side of the rocks with another parking area 0.8 further south.

IMG_4105A cormorant off Fivemile Point

We turned back and headed north past the spire.
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We were now walking into the stiff wind but from this direction Heather was able to spot some stairs in the vegetation marking the side trail to the bench.
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We followed a good trail .2 miles to said bench.
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IMG_4130View from the bench.

After a short break at the viewpoint we descended to the beach and returned to our car.
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We returned to Highway 101 and drove south into Gold Beach where we checked into our motel and dropped our stuff off before hitting the road again. Our final stop of the day had us driving south of Brookings to the Oregon Redwoods Trailhead.
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A 1.2 mile barrier free lollipop loop trail starts at the trailhead.
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We were once again the only people on this trail which was especially nice given the setting amid the giant trees. Although the trees here aren’t as big as those found in California we were once again awestruck by them. We stayed right where the barrier free loop started which brought us to a hollowed out trunk with room for several people.
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IMG_4179Coming up on the hollow trunk straight ahead.

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Approximately a half mile into the loop portion of the trail the Oregon Redwoods Trail split off allowing for a longer (2.5 miles total) hike.
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We set off on the Pioneer Trail at 7:19am and stepped off the Oregon Redwood Trail at 5:51pm. We logged 9.8 miles of hiking but nearly 147 miles (as the crow flies) separated the Oregon Redwoods Trailhead from the Pawn Trailhead (and another 70 miles home) making for a long but great day. We had gotten to see a great variety of scenery all in one day. To top it off we could now check three more featured hikes off our yet-to-do list. The only thing that could have made the day better would have been an actual knob on the cold water handle in the motel shower. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Southern Oregon Coast

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast

Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End – 3/13/2021

We were hoping for some nicer weather on the Saturday before the dreaded “Spring forward” which always seems to be the harder of the two time changes to adjust to. In addition to adjusting to the struggle, adjusting to the change springing forward also meant losing an hour of light in the morning when we like to do our hiking. We got our nice weather so we headed out to Lincoln City to explore some of the nearby trails and cross off another of Sullivan’s featured hikes at Roads End Beach. The hike at Roads End (#35 in the 3rd edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range) was one nine remaining featured hikes in his third edition which we reverted back to this year due to not knowing when (if) the final featured hike in his 4th edition, the Salmonberry Railroad, will reopen to hikers (post).

The Roads End hike is a roughly 2.8 mile out and back along Roads End Beach at the north end of Lincoln City which gave us an opportunity to add some mileage to our day and check out two other nearby destinations. The first of which was a quick stop at the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge just south of Lincoln City. With the time change not yet happening we were able to arrive early and start hiking by 6:30am and more importantly drive through Lincoln City without any traffic to speak of.
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The refuge offers a single trail, a short lollipop loop (just under a mile) around Alder Island. Canoeing and kayaking is a popular activity here. It was in the mid 30’s as we set off from the small parking area so there were no human paddlers out yet but the frosty temperature didn’t dissuade others.
IMG_0632Mallard pair

IMG_0635Canada geese

IMG_0642Goose and a mallard in the channels.

While the Sun wasn’t quite above the Coast Range great blue herons were already busy working on building a nest in some trees across a channel.
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It wasn’t just the bigger birds that were busy. A ruby-crowned kinglet was busy in the brush.
Ruby-crowned kinglet

Approximately .2 miles north of the parking area we made a hard right turn crossing over some water to Alder Island and the start of the short loop.
IMG_0656Several interpretive signs were placed along the loop.

IMG_0657A reminder that COVID-19 is still an issue.

The trail passed through stands of alder as it followed a small branch of the Siletz River for .3 miles before reaching a bench facing the main branch of the river. There were a number of ducks a geese in the channel but the highlight came when Heather spotted something heading down to the water on the far side ahead of us. It was a river otter! This had been one of, if not the, most wanted animal sightings on our list of critters we’d yet to see while hiking (or driving to a hike). Unfortunately the otter was too quick and far enough away in the low morning light to get more than a blurry photo of it swimming across the channel.
IMG_0662The larger muddy area along the bank ahead on the right is where Heather spotted the otter.

IMG_0665Alder lined trail.

IMG_0659Blurry photo of a non-breeding male hooded merganser.

Blurry River OtterThe blurry river otter.

IMG_0670Another mallard

IMG_0672Canada geese

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IMG_0681Siletz River

The bench might have been a nice place to sit for awhile had it been a little warmer but we needed to keep moving so we continued on the loop which led us back along the main river channel,
IMG_0685Western grebe

IMG_0688Goose and a bufflehead (the duck not the post)

IMG_0689Bufflehead

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IMG_0701Spring is coming!

We completed the loop and headed back to the car just as the Sun was cresting the foothills.
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We then drove back through Lincoln City (still with very little traffic) and made our way to the parking lot at the Roads End Recreation Site.
IMG_0703Sentry at the Roads End entrance.

We weren’t quite ready to head out along the beach though. Before doing the featured hike we planned on visiting the increasingly popular God’s Thumb. We were hoping that 7:30am was still early enough to avoid the crowds that were sure to show up later in the day. While there are two closer trailheads (The Villages and the Sal La Sea Trailhead), parking at Roads End meant having access to bathrooms and not having to move the car again.

God’s Thumb (arrow) from the Roads End parking Area

We followed the Oregon Hikers Field Guide directions (see link for God’s Thumb above) to make our way up through the neighborhood between Roads End and the Sal La Sea Trailhead.
There weren’t any people but the neighborhood was fairly active.
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We passed a single car parked at the trailhead as we continued on by a gate across an old roadbed.
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We had walked up some steep hills through the neighborhood and that theme continued on the old road bed for .4 miles before leveling out at a ridge top junction.
IMG_0722It’s hard to tell just how much uphill this is. Fortunately it wasn’t very muddy.

IMG_0723A little easier to see the uphill here, this was near the top.

IMG_0724The junction.

We turned left at the junction following the ridge out to The Knoll, an open space overlooking Lincoln City to the south.
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IMG_0733The Roads End parking area is the open green space in the center along the ocean.

IMG_0731The Pacific Ocean.

IMG_0735Roads End Point jutting out to the north.

IMG_0737The Knoll

We returned to the junction and continued straight following the ridge north.
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IMG_0740Snow queen

IMG_0744More signs of Spring, salmonberry blossom and buds.

IMG_0749Sitka spruce and ferns along the ridge.

At the far end of the ridge (after approx 1/3 of a mile) we came to another junction with a trail coming up from the trailhead at The Villages.
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Here we turned left and began a short descent that looked to be in some doubt due to several large downed trees.
IMG_0751The downed trees ahead in the distance.

As it turned out there was just one tree to duck under while the rest looked to have been recently taken care of.
IMG_0752The last of the tree fall.

The trail then dipped into an open meadow before rising again on the far side.
IMG_0754Mud had begun to be a bit of an annoyance at this point.

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After reaching the top of the hill the trail briefly continued north before turning left in a grassy meadow.
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IMG_0764Busy woodpecker

IMG_0766The trail getting nearing the turn left.

IMG_0769Lone tree in the meadow.

IMG_0771Lone robin in the lone tree.

From the meadow there was a view of Cascade Head (post) to the north and to God’s Thumb jutting out into the Pacific to the west.
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The trail to God’s Thumb crosses a narrow saddle before climbing steeply to the top of the thumb. We were thankful that it hadn’t rained for a few days which eliminated any issues that mud might have made with footing. We were also pleased that we didn’t see any other hikers in the area that we might have to pass on the way there.
IMG_0779Heather crossing the saddle (left of the big bush)

IMG_0801Cascade Head from the saddle.

IMG_0800Final pitch up to the top.

The view of Cascade Head was great from the thumb and we were able to enjoy it by ourselves.
IMG_0788Not quite to ourselves, we shared the space briefly with some chestnut backed chickadees.

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IMG_0795Cascade Head and the mouth of the Salmon River.

IMG_0792Roads End Point and Lincoln City

IMG_0790Rocks below God’s Thumb

We did actually see another hiker but he wasn’t coming down the trail to God’s Thumb, he was heading down to the ocean in the cove north of us.
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After enjoying the view for a bit we headed back. We finally passed some other hikers just as we started down into the valley before climbing back up to the junction at the ridge end. It was beginning to be a fairly steady stream of hikers as we reached the junction where we forked left to make a loop out of the middle of the hike. The old road bed on this side of the ridge was much muddier than what we’d come up, but we also spotted quite a few yellow violets and a single toothwort along this route.
IMG_0807A reasonable representation of the wet/muddy conditions on this part of the hike.

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IMG_0815Toothwort

A mile and a half from the junction we arrived at the very crowded trailhead at The Villages. Here we turned left on a little path which quickly joined another old roadbed.
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Less than a half mile later we were passing another gate along Sal La Sea Drive.
IMG_0828The gate and Sal La Sea Drive in the distance.

IMG_0829It’s not a hike at the coast without some skunk cabbage.

At Sal La Sea Drive I suggested turning left as it looked like the road would take us back downhill almost directly to the Roads End Recreation Site but Heather wasn’t sold on that. (She was sure there was a hidden uphill that would be worse than what we were facing to get back to the Sal La Sea Trailhead.) Never one to pass up a climb we turned right and headed up Sal La Sea Drive. It was a little over 3/4 of a mile back to that trailhead (where there were now 9 cars) and somewhere in there Heather realized she had chosen poorly. We then retraced our path from earlier back down to Roads End. Along the way we saw over a half dozen more deer among the houses which we found humorous, in the woods we saw no deer and a bunch of people and in the neighborhood we saw no people and a bunch of deer.
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While our plan to avoid people had worked well at Alder Island and for our visits to The Knoll and God’s Thumb there was no chance for privacy along the beach at Roads End. While it was busy it was a nice walk along the beach for almost a mile and a half to Roads End Point where continuing is only possible during low tides.
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IMG_0849Coltsfoot

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IMG_0853An immature bald eagle flew overhead at one point.

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IMG_0863Little waterfall along the beach.

IMG_0866Roads End Point

IMG_0871Not going around that today.

We headed back saying one last goodbye to God’s Thumb and The Knoll before driving back home to Salem.
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IMG_0879God’s Thumb on the right.

IMG_0880Hikers on The Knoll

Our mileage for the day was right around ten with a mile coming at Alder Island, two and three quarters at Roads End and the remaining six and a quarter being The Knoll and God’s Thumb. There was 1420′ of elevation gain all of which was during the portion from Roads End to God’s Thumb and back. While we’ve had good weather for all three of our hikes thus far in 2021 this hike was the first to truly feel like Winter is coming to an end. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Yachats – 12/05/2020

We ended our 2020 hiking year by hiking a section of the Oregon Coast Trail from Yachats to Waldport (and back). Our final outing of the year also marked the 500th day with a hike since an ill prepared jaunt at Silver Falls State Park in 2006 gave us the hiking bug (post). I was extra excited for this outing having just received a replacement for our camera and looking forward to trying it out.

We started our hike at Smelt Sands State Recreation Site where the 804 Trail doubles as the Oregon Coast Trail route.
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We headed north on the trail which passed between the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean and several hotels.
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IMG_0042Looking back south as the sunrise paints the clouds.

IMG_0058A house on the cliffs.

After three quarters of a mile, and crossing the private driveway of the house pictured above, the trail descends to a 6.3 mile stretch of beach between Yachats and the mouth of the Alsea River at Waldport.
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It was a beautiful morning, chilly but not too cold. A slight chance of rain was in the forecast after 10am but that bank of clouds looked far off on the horizon as we struck off on the sand.
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IMG_0066Seagulls outnumbered people in the early part of the day.

We arrived at Starr Creek shortly after descending to the beach.
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One of the trickiest parts of beach hiking can be trying to judge the depth of the various creek crossings using satellite maps. This section of beach contained several named creeks so we had come prepared for barefoot fording if necessary. Starr Creek was narrow enough though that we were able to hop across with the assistance of our hiking poles.

Continuing north we passed some banded cliffs where the ocean had created a small arch.
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Beyond these cliffs the beach widened and we strolled along the hard packed sand looking for wildlife (both alive and not so much).
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IMG_0084Vinge Creek, about a mile down the beach, was crossable on small rocks.

IMG_0086Geese flying overhead, we couldn’t make out what kind.

IMG_0087At first we thought there were two weather vanes on the houses, a whale on the right and a heron on the left.

IMG_0088It turned out to be a real great blue heron (but the whale was a vane).

IMG_0102Looking south toward Cape Perpetua (post)

IMG_0103View north.

IMG_0109Sunlight on the wave tops.

IMG_0110Sunlight bursting through the trees.

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At Reynolds Creek (approximately 3 miles down the beach) we finally had to remove our shoes and socks for an ankle deep ford.
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IMG_0123Wavy sand.

One of the most interesting sights came about 4.75 miles up the beach when we passed the “Big Stump“. The remains of an ancient redwood. The origins of the tree are unknown, it may have been part of an ancient redwood forest that was once present here or a transplant brought by the Pacific.
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A mile beyond Big Stump brought us to a short section of grassy dunes at Governor Patterson Memorial State Recreation Site.
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IMG_0139Cape Perpetua from the dunes.

Not far beyond Governor Patterson we spotted the Alsea Bay Bridge spanning the Alsea River.
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IMG_0144Testing the 40 zoom feature on the Canon SX740HS.

We made our way to a driftwood log near the mouth of the Alsea and took a seat.
IMG_0147Heading for the log.

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IMG_0146View from the log.

IMG_0153More testing of the zoom function. Seagulls on the near sandbar and seals on the one on the other side of the bridge.

It was a little after 10:15am when we started back. The bank of clouds offshore came creeping in as we made our way back to Yachats but rain never materialized. We spent much of our return trip watching seals and a few birds bob along in the surf. We also decided not to worry about letting our shoes get wet so we just went straight through the creeks on the way back and may have let the ocean get us once or twice too for good measure.
IMG_0157Looking at the dark cloud bank over the Pacific.

IMG_0166Seal

IMG_0170A little more cloud cover to the south over Cape Perpetua.

IMG_0177Seagull shaking it off.

IMG_0181More cloud action.

IMG_0189Cormorant

IMG_0191Reynolds Creek after fording.

IMG_0200Finally starting to feel like it could start raining soon.

IMG_0202The advancing line of clouds.

IMG_0205Another look at the arch.

IMG_0216A kingfisher near the stairs up from the beach.

IMG_0220December blossoms on salal along the 804 Trail.

The tide was further in as we passed the rocky shoreline on the 804 Trail creating some dramatic wave crashes.
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If not for our bladders we could have sat on one of the many benches along the 804 and watched the waves crashing into the rocks for hours but the restrooms at Smelt Sands beckoned. The weather had held up nicely and the hike was an entertaining one with just enough wildlife and sights not to be a tedious beach walk. It also helped that the sand was packed well and we never felt like we were having to work hard walking over it. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Yachats

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast

Netarts Spit – 1/25/2020

We were down to the last weekend of the month so in order to get our monthly hike in we were going to have to deal with whatever weather we were dealt. Heading into Saturday the forecast was for rain everywhere I checked so we decided to stick to our original plan which was to visit a series of lakes in the coastal range. That plan was scrapped on Friday night when I checked the trail conditions and discovered that one of the ones that we’d be on had been closed this month due to heavy storm damage. Plan B had been a nearly 3 hour drive to Reedsport, but a 100% chance of rain didn’t warrant that long of a drive. I looked to our 2021 hikes and decided on Netarts Spit at Cape Lookout State Park which was a more reasonable hour and a half drive away.

We set off just before 6am with all our rain gear and drove to the Cape Lookout Day Use Trailhead where we purchased a $5 parking pass and noted that it was in fact not raining here.
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We suspected it was just a matter of time and put our rain gear on before starting off. One of the issues with last minute hike swaps is that it limits the amount of time we have to read up on the hike. The Netarts Spit hike is featured in two of our books by Matt Reeder (“Off the Beaten Trail” and “PDX Hiking 365”) as well as in the Oregonhikers.org field guide. I had looked at both and noted that while Reeder’s description indicated to hike along the beach the field guide mentioned an inland route for the first portion. After walking down to the beach near a picnic shelter we walked back up to the shelter and followed a path north through some trees.
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The view south from this path was dominated by Cape Lookout jutting out into the Pacific. Several waterfalls could be seen on it’s flanks.
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When we came to another beach access point just before a gated section of the campground we decided to head down to the beach.
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Had I studied the entry in the field guide more thoroughly I would have known that it recommends following the road through the campground to avoid the cobblestones along the beach here.
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The tide was just high enough that in order to stay out of the Ocean we were forced to walk on these rocks and they are not fun. Ankles were rolling and twisting in all sorts of directions as we stumbled along.
IMG_2136Ocean coming right up to the rocks.

When we got our next chance we popped back up off the beach into the campground following a gravel track past some group tent sites.
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We’d already seen one bald eagle fly overhead and here we spotted another one sitting in a tree ahead.
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While watching the eagle a great blue heron flew over.
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Beyond the group tent sites the road was gated and turned into a grassy path with Netarts Bay to the right and dunes to the left.
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The grassy roadbed soon ended at a stand of trees where a clear trail continued.
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IMG_2154Trail at lower right with a little standing water.

The field guide had mentioned that sections of this trail may have standing water but we weren’t quite prepared for long stretches of calf deep ponds. Heather was smart enough to find a deer path a little higher up on the left side (Which was something the field guide said you might have to do but in my quick reading I hadn’t picked up on that.) I tried sticking to the trail for a bit, but after a while in the water my feet starting getting cold so I joined her. We made the decision to try and follow one of these paths up and over to the beach which we managed to do.
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Then it was just a matter of finding the best spot to drop back down onto the beach, and more cobblestones, yay.
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Luckily it wasn’t long before we were able to drop onto the sand.
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There was a lot more blue sky than we’d been expecting which was a pleasant surprise. To the north we could see the Three Arch Rocks although a perpetual fog seemed to be hanging over them.
IMG_2172Three Arch Rocks – one of two wilderness areas in Oregon off limits to visitors.

We were able to spend the next 4 miles to the end of the spit on the beach. There were no other people in sight (until the fishing boats in the bay). There were a few seagulls here and there and we saw at least 8 different Bald Eagles counting at least 6 congregated in a short stretch of trees.
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A final eagle awaited near the end of the spit.
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We were hoping that by the time we got to the turn around point we’d have a better look at Three Arch Rocks but the view wasn’t much clearer than it had been all morning.
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We had stubbornly kept our rain gear on waiting for the forecast to come to fruition, but we stopped here to remove it since we were way too warm. We then made a short loop around the tip of the spit to look at the bay before starting back.
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One thing that both Reeder and the field guide agreed on was that it was impossible to travel along the bay due to marshy conditions so we started back down the beach.
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The tide was coming in and we noticed that waves were starting to cover the entire beach and forced us up into the dunes a bit where we followed some deer tracks for awhile.
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We spent the majority of the next three and a half miles staying up as high on the dunes as possible which made for some more difficult travel. The grass on the dunes is surprisingly sharp tipped and it was all pointing north so we were walking directly into the points. The thickness of the grass also meant that you couldn’t really tell what the terrain underneath was like so there were plenty of awkward steps, although no falls. I had done that on the beach when I tripped over a small piece of driftwood.
IMG_2233Looking back north from the dune crest.

IMG_2235Looking north at what was to come.

IMG_2230Thick forest between the bay and the dune.

IMG_2236One of several semi-circles created by grass going back and forth.

Being up on the dune did allow for some views of the bay where we spotted birds including surf scooters and great blue herons.
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We were forced down onto the backside of the dune as we neared the point where we had crossed over the beach that morning. Here a maze of game trails led in all directions. The trick was attempting to avoid the thorny rose stalks and blackberry bushes as well as thickets of nearly impassable salal.
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We eventually made it back to the submerged trail and grassy track from earlier which we followed back to the campground and then stuck to the paved road as we returned to trail leading between the campground and picnic shelter.
IMG_2255Cape Lookout from the trail to the picnic shelter.

IMG_2257Seagull atop the shelter.

Our GPS put our hike at 11.1 miles which was in line with the field guides 11.2 and a little longer than Reeder’s 10 miles. We both agreed that it may have been the hardest hike we’d done along the coast due to the tricky terrain, although part of it might also be that it had been over a month since our previous hike and we’re a bit out of hiking shape. In any event it felt like an adventure which was nice and the fact that the rainy forecast turned into just a mostly cloudy day with a couple of sun breaks made for a great start to 2020’s hikes. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Netarts Spit

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast

Cascade Head Rainforest Trail – 9/28/2019

With the weather forecast for the Cascades calling for a mix of snow and rain we decided to dial up another coastal hike where a chance of showers was a bit more appealing. While hiking in a little snow can be a lot of fun the snow/rain combo is much less so. We decided it might be a good time to check out the Rainforest Trail at Cascade Head.

Earlier this year we had hiked to the meadows on Cascade Head (post) hoping for some nice views and flowers but spent most of the time in the fog with a little rain thrown in. We thought we might be in for more of the same when we did a final weather check before leaving in the morning and saw that the 40% chance of showers/mostly sunny forecast had been replaced by a 90% chance of showers decreasing to 40% later in the day. At least this time there weren’t going to be any viewpoints and rain almost seemed fitting since we would be on the Rainforest Trail.

We arrived at the Cascade Head Trail – South Trailhead a little too early and had to sit for about 20 minutes waiting for enough light to start hiking. We’d driven through a few showers through the coastal range but there was no precipitation falling as we set off on the Rainforest Trail, which is also part of the official route of the Oregon Coast Trail.
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The trail set off uphill following an old logging road that was crowded with vegetation.
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The trail was a little muddy and slick in spots but given the recent rain we’d had it wasn’t as muddy as we had expected. It also wasn’t nearly as cloudy as we’d expected with a few breaks visible to the west.
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There are no real viewpoints and no trail junctions over the first 3.5 miles, just the rain forest which transitioned to a more open forest with some mature trees toward the latter end. The most obvious marker along the way was a boardwalk over the headwaters of Calkins Creek approximately 2.7 miles from the trailhead.
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IMG_0078Ferns on a tree trunk.

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IMG_0085Lichen overhanging the trail.

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IMG_0097The boardwalk

IMG_0099Nursery stump

IMG_0111Spider finishing its morning web.

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About 3.7 miles (and 1200′) from the trailhead we arrived at Forest Road 1861.
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Up until 2008 the trail continued 2.4 miles on the far side of this road and descended to Highway 101 near Neskowin (post) but storm damage that year prompted the Forest Service to abandon that section forcing Oregon Coast Trail hikers to follow FR 1861 1.2 miles to Highway 101 and follow its shoulder into Neskowin. In March of this year volunteers from Trail Keepers of Oregon (TKO) began work to reopen the abandoned trail. We had heard that completion of the repairs should take place by 2020 so we thought we would check on the progress.

Pink flagging marked a path on the far side of the road so we began following it.
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IMG_0117There is a flag in there.

This path led us to a junction at an old sign near the road.
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A better path was coming up from the road here. (If we had turned right on FR 1861 for a short distance we’d have found it.)
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We weren’t sure how far we’d be able to go and kept our eyes out for an sign of closure but we found the trail to be in good shape. Flagging was present in many areas and the time and effort of the TKO trail crews was evident.
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IMG_0133Flagging along the trail.

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IMG_0137Elk had obviously been on the trail recently.

IMG_0138Fern covered hillside.

There was a brief break in the trees along the way which gave us a view of Cascade Head’s high point.
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There were also some impressive fungi along the section.
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A mile and a half from FR 1861 the trail began a steeper descent via some switchbacks as it approached Fall Creek. There was evidence of quite a bit of tree fall in the area.
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Near the bottom of the switchbacks we spotted a TKO crew.
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They were a bit surprised to see actual hikers since the trail hadn’t officially been reopened (they said we were more than welcome there though). They indicated that the final .7 miles of trail was still pretty rough as they had done work on that section yet. We thanked them for their hard work and let them know that the upper section that they had worked on was probably in better shape than parts of the trail that hadn’t been abandoned. We turned around and headed back up to FR 1861 and then dropped back down to our car enjoying the forest along the way.
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We never did have a shower pass over and actually wound up under a mostly sunny sky after all. The 10.4 mile hike gained approximately 2000′ total but most of that was gradual. It was an enjoyable hike even though there wasn’t much in the way of viewpoints or other “features”. It was also fun to see the trail crew doing their thing. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cascade Head Rainforest Trail

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Cascade Head, Whalen Island, and Sitka Sedge – 6/25/2019

As we finished up a four day stretch of hiking to start a week of vacation we were looking for the best chance of decent weather which brought us to the Oregon Coast for our second visit to Cascade Head. I had originally had a grandiose plan to hike from the lower trailhead all the way over to Harts Cove (post) but I hadn’t paid close enough attention to detail and we wound up going with a plan B.

We started the morning at Knight County Park.
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IMG_0776Salmon River at Knight County Park

It had rained throughout most of our drive through the Coast Range but we were pleased to have been able to see the meadows on Cascade Head as we drove to the trailhead. We set off on the Nature Conservancy Trail which quickly crossed Three Rocks Road.
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The trail climbed through the forest along Savage Road popping out of the trees at a field where we could see that the meadows were not nearly as clear as they had been just a bit earlier.
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The fact that we could see the ocean was a bit encouraging though.
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After crossing to the other side of the road the trail passed an active slide and recrossed to the original trailhead.
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The trail continued to climb through the forest before leveling out for a bit as it crossed a series of overgrown streams on footbridges.
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IMG_0801One of the bridges.

IMG_0804Overgrown stream

When we finally popped out of the trees around the mile and a half mark we found ourselves in some pretty thick fog.
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We had hoped to see some of the elk herd that lives on Cascade Head but we couldn’t see much of anything, although we did spot a few birds.
IMG_0811White crowned sparrow

IMG_0818One of three hummingbirds

IMG_0844Another white crowned sparrow

There were just a few flowers scattered about as we made our way through and up the grassy meadow.
IMG_0824Checkerbloom

IMG_0832Monkeyflower

IMG_0835Yarrow

IMG_0848Field chickweed

IMG_0914Lupine

Parsley-leaf Lovage
Parsley-leaf Lovage

IMG_0853Foxglove with a spider web

IMG_0862Clovers

IMG_0875Iris

IMG_0880Self-heal

With no views from the meadows when we finally reached the upper viewpoint we headed into the forest.
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When we came to Siuslaw National Forest boundary my lack of attention to detail became apparent. I had seen where the road to the Upper Trailhead was closed annually from January 1st through July 15th, but I hadn’t noticed that the entire area starting at the boundary was closed to all traffic during that time period.
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So much for that plan. We gathered under the awning over the Nature Conservancy signboard and mulled over our options. We decided that it might be a decent time to check out a couple of other nearby hikes – Whalen Island and Sitka Sedge. These two hikes would be just a little less mileage than our original plan with quite a bit less elevation gain, plus they were close to Pacific City which gave us a great excuse to have lunch at the Pelican Brewing Company.

With a new plan we headed back to the upper viewpoint where the conditions had improved slightly. We could make out the trees and even a bit of the ocean in the distance through the fog.
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The problem seemed to be that the clouds/fog wasn’t coming in from the Pacific but was instead coming from inland up the Salmon River. We paused for a moment wondering if the view might clear up. While we were watching we spotted a doe walking along the tree line.
IMG_0877Look for the head to the right of the tall foxglove stalk.

We decided to keep descending figuring that we would still have a good view if the fog did happen to lift.
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As we were headed in the direction of the Salmon River the fog did indeed clear in a span of just over a minute.
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It was a remarkable change. As we were admiring the new, clearer view we noticed a pair of deer feeding in a gully far below us.
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As we continued downhill we were encourage to see an actual pocket of blue sky.
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We stopped to take in the view from the lower viewpoint.
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From the lower viewpoint the trail turned back inland where things were taking another turn. It was now beginning to rain.
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It was a fairly quick, damp, descent back to the car. We were briefly followed by a young fawn who quickly ran the other way when we turned around and spotted it. We had heard a couple of odd noises which caused Heather to turn and notice it. Were aren’t sure what prompted it to follow but hopefully it got back to it’s bed and mother.

The rain had ended by the time we arrived back at Knight Park and we headed north along Highway 101 for 12.7 miles to a sign for Pacific City and Sand Lake where we turned left. This was Brooten Rd. which we followed for 3.5 miles before turning left onto a bridge across the Nestucca River and into Woods. After 2.3 miles on what was now Sandlake Rd. we turned right at a T-shaped junction remaining on Sandlake Rd. for 2.9 more miles to the Clay Myers State Natural Area at Whalen Island on the left.
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It was overcast here but not raining or foggy so that was a plus. We began our loop hike here by taking a trail near the southern end of the parking area.
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The 1.5 mile loop here passes several viewpoints of Sand Lake and the Lillian Parker Craft wetland. Near the first viewpoint we spotted a rabbit.
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The trail was nice and there were a few flowers along with the views.
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IMG_0969Lupine

IMG_0972White crowned sparrow

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IMG_0974Cape Lookout (post)

IMG_0979Beach morning glory

At the wetlands a curious hummingbird came to check us out.
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IMG_1001Groundcone

IMG_1011Tiger lily

After completing this short loop we drove back south along Sandlake Rd a mile and turned right into the Sitka Sedge State Natural Area. Purchased by the State in 2014 this is a relatively new hiking area offering a couple of loop options.
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We followed the Beltz Dike Trail to the start of the loops.
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With water and wetlands on both sides of the dike we were a bit surprised by the lack of wildlife which was basically just a few ducks, some crows, and a number of smaller birds.
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There appeared to have been quite a display of roses a bit earlier in the year.
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On the far end of the dike we turned right onto the Estuary View Loop.
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This trail passed through a typical coast forest and climbed to a viewpoint above the Sand Lake Estuary.
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We scanned the estuary for any interesting wildlife but didn’t spot anything so we continued on. As the trail looped around and began heading south it became quite a bit sandier requiring a little extra effort.
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At a rise in the trail there was a view south to Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock (post).

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We missed the the pointer for beach access where the Woods and Estuary View Loops met and continued south on what was now the Kinnikinnik Woods Loop.
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This section was much less sandy which made it easier to walk on.
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At the next trail sign we did follow the beach access pointer but we mistook it on the map for the one we had already passed.
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This path was a slightly longer route to the beach as it first paralleled it for nearly two tenths of a mile before a short spur trail to the right led out to it.
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Cape Lookout lay to the north while Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock were to the south.
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When we left the beach we turned right thinking that this was still the Kinnikinnik Woods Loop but a quick look at the Garmin showed that we were quickly approaching the outskirts of Pacific City so we promptly turned around and headed back to the junction and got ourselves back on the correct path.
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We took a final short detour at the pointer for the Elk Knoll Trail.
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This 500′ long path led to a bench atop a small knoll, there were no elk present.
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After sitting briefly on the bench we completed the loop but not before Heather did one of the craziest dances I’d ever seen as we were walking along the trail. She had suddenly seen something right in front of her and thought it was some kind of big insect coming for her. It wasn’t.
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We both got quite a laugh out of her fancy moves and chuckled all the way back to the trailhead. Despite our detour the hike here was still under 4 miles bringing the days total to 11.1 miles.

After a quick change we drove into Pacific City and stopped at the Pelican Brewery before heading back to Salem. The food and drink were a nice way to end four days of hikes. With more rain in the forecast over the next couple of days we’ll see when and where our next hike takes us. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cascade Head, Whalen Island, and Stika Sedge

Categories
Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast

Siltcoos River, Siltcoos Lake & Honeyman State Park – 12/08/18

The first week of December greeted us with some beautiful weather. Unfortunately the forecast called for the arrival of rain Friday evening and we were unable to get time off of work during the week to take advantage of the sunny conditions.  We kept our eyes on the forecast though and by Friday there was a window of time Saturday morning where it looked like it might be dry along the coast south of Florence so we made a last minute call to take our final outing of the year.

Our plan was to end the year much as it started (post), with a three stop day along the Oregon Coast.  For this trip we’d picked three hikes just south of Florence, OR in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  Our first stop was at the Stagecoach Trailhead, eight miles south of Florence, in the Siltcoos Area.

Stagecoach Trailhead

Map at the Stagecoach Trailhead

From the trailhead we followed signs for the Waxmyrtle Trail which led us across the Siltcoos River on bridge on the entrance road to the Waxmyrtle Campground.
Waxmyrtle Trail sign

Siltcoos River

Once across the bridge we turned right along the river bank on the Waxmyrtle Trail.
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Siltcoos River

It was a mostly cloudy morning, but it was dry and there was a least some breaks which gave us hope that it would turn out to be a nice day after all.
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Our guidebook had mentioned that this area was one of the best areas for bird watching in the State. Although we didn’t see a large number of birds on this morning we did spot a few along the estuary here.
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Great blue heronGreat blue heron

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A little under a half mile from the bridge we came to an old fork in the trail. The right hand fork had been a seasonal trail sticking closer to the river, but it has been closed due to erosion.
Closed portion of trail along the Siltcoos River

We stayed left and shortly arrived at a sandy road leading between the campground and the beach. A sign here pointed right for the continuation of the Waxmyrtle Trail.
Sign for the Waxmyrtle Trail

Waxmyrtle Trail

We followed this sandy track 3/4 of a mile to Waxmyrtle Beach. Along the way we passed through Waxmyrtle Marsh where the morning colors reflected off the still waters on either side of the trail.
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Interpretive sign for the Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Beach

For a longer hike here we could have walked along the beach, but with two other stops ahead of us we simply stopped for a moment to enjoy the Pacific Ocean. It was a perfect morning for a visit, the temperature was in the upper 40’s, there was no breeze at all, and the sky above seemed to compliment the waves below.
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Pacific Ocean at Wax Myrtle Beach

Pacific Ocean

Sanderlings

After enjoying a peaceful moment on the beach we headed back the way we’d come, careful to not step on any of the numerous rough skinned newts that were out and about.
Tiny rough skinned newt

After recrossing the Siltcoos River and before returning to the Stagecoach Trailhead we crossed the main road to take the .7 mile Lagoon Trail.
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On the far side of a boardwalk the Lagoon Trail began a .7 mile loop around a campground in the middle of the Siltcoos Lagoon.
Lagoon Trail map

Siltcoos Lagoon

Siltcoos Lagoon

Interpretive sign along the Siltcoos Lagoon

Siltcoos Lagoon

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Sparrow

After finishing the loop we returned to our car. The hike here had only been 3.3 miles but had offered a nice variety of scenery and wildlife. We drove back to Highway 101 from the trailhead and crossed directly over it to reach the Siltcoos Lake Trailhead.
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The Siltcoos Lake Trail with a .9 mile climb inland through a second growth forest to the start of a loop.
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Siuslaw forest along the Siltcoos Lake Trail

Siltcoos Lake Trail

Siltcoos Lake Trail

A wide variety of mushrooms grew along the forest floor where there were also more newts to watch out for.
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Mushrooms

Mushroom along the Siltcoos Lake Trail

Mushroom along the Siltcoos Lake Trail

Rough skinned newt next to an upturned mushroom

We turned right at the start of the loop and followed the trail a little over three quarters of a mile to another junction.
Sunbeams in the forest along the Siltcoos Lake Trail

Siltcoos Lake Trail

We had lost nearly all the elevation we had gained and the trail to right continued downhill for another quarter mile to South Camp, a tent site along the lake shore.
Siltcoos Lake

Siltcoos Lake

The lake was very pretty and full of birds but the nearly constant sound of gunfire took a little away from the enjoyment.
Birds on Siltcoos Lake

Birds on Siltcoos Lake

We climbed back up to the Sitlcoos Lake Trail and continued a half mile on the loop which dropped to a small creek crossing before arriving at a sign for the tent sites at North Camp where we again turned right and visited the lake shore.
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Siltcoos Lake

American coot

Birds taking flight from Siltcoos Lake

Following paths north along the shore led us past all the sites and back to the Siltcoos Lake Trail.
Sunbeams in the Siuslaw National Forest

Siltcoos Lake Trail

Just under a mile and a quarter from North Camp we finished the loop and then returned the .9 miles to the trailhead to complete the 4.4 mile hike.

Next we drove north on Highway 101 just over 4.5 miles to signs for Jessie M. Honeyman State Park where we turned east on Canary Road. We followed this road for a half mile before turning right into the East Woahink Day Use Area.

After parking in the large parking area we walked back toward the entrance to a large sign for Cleawox Lake Day Use Areas.
Trail from the East Woahink Lake picnic area

This path led briefly through a forest before joining Canary Road to cross a portion of the lake.
Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

Woahink Lake

After passing over the water along the road the trail dipped back into the forest and immediately forked. The right hand fork led directly into the West Woahink Day Use Area while the left fork (which we took) looped around the day use area along the lake shore passing picnic tables and a small beach.
Beach along Woahink Lake

Woahink Lake

On the far side of the West Woahink Day Use Area we once again found ourselves on the shoulder of Canary Road passing over more of the lake. The trail again veered away from the somewhat busy road and we followed pointers for Cleawox Lake to a paved bike path leading over Highway 101.
Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

Path over Highway 101 in Jesse M. Honeyman State Park

Rough skinned newts had become the theme for the day and even the bike path was not free of them.
Rough skinned newt

Shortly after crossing over the highway we turned right off the bike path at a trail sign.
Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

This path led downhill past a small stone structure and across a couple of paved roads before reaching Cleawox Lake.
Stone structer in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Trail between Woahink and Cleawox Lake

Cleawox Lake

On the far side of lake was the day use area complete with a very nice bathhouse. We turned right at the lake and made our way around the water to the bathhouse and swimming area.
Cleawox Lake

Bathhouse at Cleawox Lake

Cleawox Lake

We could imagine that this would be a very busy place at other times of the year but on the second weekend in December there were only a few other people that we could even see and they were all across the water in other areas. We found a dry bench and sat a for a bit listening to a sparrow sing.
Sparrow

As we started to head back an Anna’s hummingbird zoomed by and landed in a nearby tree.
Anna's hummingbird

Anna's hummingbird

We passed by the trail that we had come down to the lake on and continued along the water to a large parking area on the opposite side of the bathhouse.
Cleawox Lake

At the end of the parking lot a path led to a dune along the lake, but before we headed out onto the sand we took a very short side trip on the signed Nature Trail to visit Lily Lake.
Nature Trail

Lily LakeLily Lake

After seeing the small lake we headed up the sand dune overlooking Cleawox Lake.
Dunes Trail

Dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Cleawox Lake

We climbed to the top of the dune and surveyed the surrounding area.
Dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Cleawox Lake

Pacific Ocean from a dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State ParkThe Pacific Ocean from the dune.

To the south we could see our goal, the largest sand dune (at least in that area) in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park.

Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

It was a half mile of sandy up and down walking between the two dunes.
Trail through the dunes at Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Dune Trail

After a nearly 150′ climb we arrived at the top of the dune and its 360 degree view.
View from the tallest dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

View from the tallest dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

View from the tallest dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

View from the tallest dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Although off road vehicles are allowed in much of the park this dune (and our route to and from it) are off limits. After soaking in the view (and watching a couple of motorcycles in the distance) we followed footprints steeply downhill to the east.
Path down the dune

Dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

After a short stint through trees we followed tracks around a sandy bowl reentering the trees just above the park’s campground.
Dune in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

Once in the campground we headed north following the paved roads to Loop “B”.
Campground in Jessie M. Honeyman State Park

We turned east along the northern end of Loop B which brought us to the bike path that we had crossed Highway 101 on earlier.
Trail to East Woahink Lake Day Use Area

We followed path back up and over Highway 101 and returned to the East Woahink Lake Day Use Area. The path was full of birds now, mostly robins but we also spotted a nice spotted towhee.
Robins

Spotted towhee

The only thing we did differently on the way back was that we went through the West Woahink Day Use Area instead of around it which allowed us to use the facilities there before our drive home. This was our longest hike of the day at 5.2 miles bringing the days total to 12.9.

We had been all prepared for wet and rainy weather, but instead we had a nearly perfect day for hiking at the coast. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Siltcoos River, Siltcoos Lake, & Honeyman State Park

Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Amanda’s Trail to Cape Perpetua

As we approached the final hike of our official “hiking season” (May through October) we were playing a game of cat and mouse with the weather forecast. Our original plan had been a visit to Wahtum Lake between the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood but on Wednesday the forecast for Saturday was rain there so we began to look elsewhere. Our November hike (we try and do one a hike month in our “off-season”) was going to be a visit to Cape Perpetua via Amanda’s Trail so we checked the forecast for that area and it simply called for mostly cloudy conditions. We checked again on Thursday and the forecast for these locations had basically swapped and now Wahtum Lake looked better. Another check Friday night called for rain in both areas (more at Wahtum Lake) so we decided to check again in the morning before deciding where we would end up. The forecast the next morning was still calling for rain at both locations but not starting until 11am. With less precipitation expected at Cape Perpetua and views being less of a concern there we headed to Yachats on the Oregon Coast.

At the southern end of Yachats, after crossing over the Yachats River, we turned right on Ocean View Road which leads to the Yachats Ocean Road State Natural Site. The road passes along the natural site where there are several pullouts before looping back to Highway 101. We parked at a small dirt pullout near the southern end of the natural site and took our time getting going because we’d arrived a little before sunrise.
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Luckily there was a decent amount of light being provided by the Moon so it didn’t take long before we headed further south along Ocean View Road to a post marking the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT).
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We followed the posts south which brought us to the shoulder of Highway 101.
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A little under a quarter mile beyond the first OCT post the trail crossed over the highway at Windy Way Street. We then climbed a bit away from the highway before dropping back down to a driveway for a bed and breakfast.
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The first sign that this section of the OCT is Amanda’s Trail came on the far side of the B&B when the trail reentered the forest.
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The trail once again climbed away from the highway as it rounded a hillside with a few ocean views.
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Approximately a half mile from the bed and breakfast we came to a statue of two bears representing an Alsea Indian myth that bears dance when the salmon come. Norman Kittle, whose name is on the statue, along with his wife Joanne were the first private landowners to donate a trail easement in the State of Oregon.
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Beyond the bear statue the trail began a slight decent, crossing a gravel road, before arriving at the small grotto with Amanda’s Statue ( a quarter mile from the bears).
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Interpretive signs here told of the blind woman’s forced march to the reservation.
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The present statue is not the original statue as it and a nearby footbridge were washed away in a 2016 flood. The current statue is one of two others completed by the same artist and was provided by its owners when the original statue was lost. This version was placed a bit higher to avoid any subsequent floods. Other precautions to protect the statue have been taken as well.
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After visiting the statue we continued on across the replaced footbridge.
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Beyond the creek the trail climbed nearly 750′ as it turned inland up a forested ridge.
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A mile from the bridge we had left the ridge and traversed around a marshy area near the head of North Cape Creek.
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After a little additional climbing on the other side of the creek the trail began to descend along this ridge toward the ocean. A mile and a quarter from North Cape Creek we arrived at a signed junction.
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Here we stayed right following pointers for the Stone Shelter on what was now the Whispering Spruce Trail.
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We had visited the shelter in 2013 (post) on what was part of the first outing featured in this blog.

A little less than a quarter mile from the junction we arrived at the shelter.
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It was a surprisingly nice morning considering the forecast and we were happy to have a good view from the shelter.
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After a brief rest we continued on passing another viewpoint before reaching a junction with the St. Perpetua Trail.
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I mentioned that we had visited the stone shelter in 2013 but that had not been our first visit to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. In 2010 we had stopped here to visit the tide pools on the way home from a hike in the Drift Creek Wilderness (post). One thing we had not seen on either of our previous trips was the Giant Spruce, a nearly 600 year old State Heritage Tree.

With that goal in mind we took the St. Perpetua Trail downhill toward the Cape Perpetua Campground.
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Shortly after crossing Overlook Road, which leads to a trailhead along the Whispering Spruce Loop, we arrived at the campground entrance road.
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Behind the restrooms the trail continues across Cape Creek.
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On the far side of the creek we turned left on the Giant Spruce Trail.
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This trail followed the creek upstream for .8 miles to the 185′ high tree with a trunk circumference of 40′.
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We are always awestruck when we visit any of the giant old trees in person. It’s nearly impossible to capture just how huge they really are in photos. In addition to their size their age always forces us to pause and try and picture the timeline of their growth. This tree would have likely been a sapling at the same time Christopher Columbus was lost looking for a route to Asia.

After visiting the tree we returned to the junction near the footbridge at the campground. The weather was holding nicely so we decided to check out the Spouting Horn and Devil’s Churn areas. We followed the Giant Spruce Trail .2 miles to the visitors center where we picked up the Captain Cooks Trails.
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We followed this paved trail under Highway 101 to a viewpoint.
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From the viewpoint the Captain Cook Trail went left making a loop with views of the Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well while the Trail of Restless Waters was to the right leading to Devil’s Churn. We decided to visit them in the opposite order of our 2010 visit and went right first. This trail briefly followed the shoulder of the highway past a small parking area and vista before dropping toward the ocean.
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We crossed over Cape Creek and then followed the trail, keeping left at junctions, to a staircase down to Devil’s Churn.
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There was some decent wave action going on and we watched if for awhile.
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The crashing waves didn’t seem to bother a lone cormorant that was hunting for food in the churn.
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Speaking of food after we climbed back up the stairs we continued on a loop above Devil’s Churn to the Devil’s Churn Day Use Area where we wound up buying a lemon muffin from the concession stand there.
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After splitting the muffin we completed the loop and returned to the Captain Cook Trail.
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We stayed left at a fork in order to complete the loop clockwise.
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The tide had been out far enough on our previous visit that the Spouting Horn had not been spouting but today was different.
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We also hadn’t even noticed Thor’s Well that day but this time we knew what we were looking for and the Ocean was more cooperative.
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It was a bit of a zoo with people in the area though so we didn’t stay long and were soon heading back up the St. Perpetua Trail and past the shelter where the view had become much cloudier.
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The rain mostly held off as we made the two and a quarter mile horseshoe through the forest along the ridges above North Cape Creek between the shelter and Amanda’s Statue.
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By the time we reached the grotto, where we encountered a Boy Scout Troop, a steady light rain was falling. The rain continued to pick up as we made our way back to the Highway 101 crossing south of Yachats.
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Overall it had been an excellent day, the rain had held off long enough for us to get some nice views and stay relatively dry without having to put on our rain gear. We got to finish up the trails in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and had unintentionally timed it better for the Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well. Oh and we also had that delicious lemon muffin mid-hike so yeah it was a pretty good way to end our 2018 hiking season. We do plan on getting a couple more hikes in this year but from November through April we drop down to just one outing (or so) a month. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Amanda’s Trail to Cape Perpetua

Categories
Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Southern Coast

Tahkenitch Creek

After three nights in Bandon it was time to say goodbye and head home. We woke up early on Sunday to find that it had rained overnight. As we headed north on Highway 101 we passed through a number of showers and began to think that it was going to be a wet hike at Tahkenitch Creek. In fact the heaviest shower began in Reedsport just nine miles south of the trailhead.

When we arrived at the small parking area we were happy to find that it wasn’t raining there, at least yet.IMG_2960

In 2015 (post) we visited the area on either side of this trail but had skipped over this particular trail. The Tahkenitch Creek Trail set off through the forest on the north side of Tahkenitch Creek which it quickly crossed on a footbridge.IMG_2961

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The wet morning hadn’t kept the wildlife from making appearances.IMG_2973

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Beyond the footbridge there was a short section of boardwalk then we came to a junction with a trail map.IMG_2967

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This junction was only three tenths of a mile from the trailhead and marked the beginning of a couple of loop options. We stayed to the right passing a couple of views of Tahkenitch Creek including the site of a possible ford. We had checked out the ford from the other side in 2015 and were no more interested in doing it this time around.IMG_2986

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Possible ford site

The trail spent quite a bit of time away from the creek before arriving at another junction a half mile from the start of the loops.IMG_2991

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A left here would have created a 1 mile loop and a 1.6 mile hike overall, but we stayed right opting for a longer option. The trail continued through the forest for another .8 miles to the next junction. We had been having to watch where we stepped all morning due to the presence of numerous slugs but along this section we also saw a rough skinned newt in the trail.IMG_3000

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We faced another choice at this junction. Simply turning left would create a two mile loop, but a right hand turn would lead us to the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail in just under a mile. We had hiked the dunes trail to the beach in 2015 so we decided to go to that junction to link up the two hikes.IMG_3005

This stretch of trail remained in the forest until the junction. A brief right hand turn onto the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail provided a bit of a view of the creek and of the Pacific Ocean in the distance.IMG_3006

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It would have been another .8 miles to reach the beach on the dunes trail, and since we had hiked that stretch before we decided to turn back here and get home earlier.IMG_3012

We kept right at junctions on the way back passing briefly though a sandy landscape.IMG_3015

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As we exited the sandy area we met a gentleman who was looking for a good view of sand dunes to the south. He said he was working on a photography book of the Oregon Coast and had hoped to get some photos of the fog on some of the nearby lakes but due to the rain there was no fog over the water. We suggested he try the Oregon Dunes Overlook just north of where we were. We wished him luck and continued on.

The rain finally started to come down as we completed the loop so we hustled back to the trailhead and got into the car before we got too wet.IMG_3022

Even with the side trip to the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail this was only a 4.3 mile hike, and the shorter loop options make it a great leg stretch stop or hike for the younger kids. For us it was a nice way to end our mini-vacation and one more featured hike checked off from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” guidebook. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Tahkenitch Creek