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Hiking Northern Coast Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Nehalem Bay State Park, Kilchis Point Reserve, and Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

We didn’t waste any time starting on our 2018 list of hikes as we took advantage of favorable weather on New Year’s Day and headed for the Oregon Coast. Our plan for the day was to make three stops near Tillamook. First at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, then at Kilchis Point Reserve, and finally at Nehalem Bay State Park. As we neared Tillamook though it became apparent that we were a bit ahead of the Sun so we decided to swap the first and final stops to avoid sitting at the Cape Meares Trailhead waiting for light.

We drove north through Tillamook on Highway 101 to mile post 44 (one mile south of Manzanita) where we turned west at a sign for Nehalem Bay State Park. After paying the $5 day use fee we parked at the large day use area. We waited briefly for enough light to take a short path to the ocean.
Nehalem Bay Trailhead

Pacific Ocean

The view from the beach was a good one with some of our previous destinations visible to the north.
Neahkahanie Mountain
Neahaknie Mountain, Angora Peak, and Cape Falcon

To the south our final destination of the day, Cape Meares, jutted out into the Pacific.
Looking south from the Nehalem Spit

We walked south along the quite beach for 2.25 miles to the jetty at the end of the spit. We were joined by a lone jogger, some seagulls, and a curious seal.
Morning glow on the Pacific

Seagull

Seal

Jetty on Nehalem Spit

A mass of driftwood near the jetty forced us to backtrack a bit along the beach to a hiker sign where we turned inland.
Morning light hitting Neahkahanie Mountain

Hiker post on Nehalem Spit

We crossed the spit to the bay and turned north along the water on a worn path.
Swell heading into the bay

We were eventually able to get down onto the sandy Nehalem Beach which we walked along as far as we could before the high water forced us back up into the vegetation.
Neahkahanie Mountain across Nehalem BayNehalem Beach ahead

While we walked along the beach we spotted a bald eagle, more seals, and a varied thrush.
Bald eagle

Seals in Nehalem Bay

Varied thrush

Ideally we would have been able to keep on the sand all the way back along the bay to the park’s boat ramp but since that wasn’t an option we turned inland on what appeared to be a well traveled trail. We were hoping it would lead us to the horse trail that our map showed running down the center of the spit but after a short distance the path we were following became flooded.
More water on Nehalem Spit

We were forced to attempt to follow a maze of game trails.
Off trail travel on Nehalem Spit

We could guess who was responsible for the confusion of trails by the elk sign we continually spotted. We lucked out at one point when we came to another flooded area at a narrow point where we were able to cross on driftwood. Had we tried sticking to the bay we would have run into a spot too wide to cross and wound up where we were anyway.
Inlet along Nehalem Bay

Shortly after crossing the water travel became easier as we were able to reach another sandy beach and then pick up a wider more traveled trail back to the horse trail not far from the day use parking lot.
Nehalem Bay

Horse Trail in Nehalem Bay State Park

Our guidebook and called this a 5.2 mile loop but the time we’d arrived back at the car we had squeezed 5.7 miles out of it due to backtracking because of the flooded trail.

After returning to the highway we headed south to Bay City for our second stop of the morning – Kilchis Point Reserve. We turned towards Tillamook Bay on Warren Street near mile post 61 and followed pointers to the parking area on Spurce Street.
Kilshis Point Reserve Trailhead

Kilchis Point is the site of one of the largest Native American villages along the Northern Oregon Coast. It is also the location where the Morning Star of Tillamook, first ship registered in the Oregon Territory, was built. The small park is very nice with plenty of amenities and a plethora of information posted throughout. It was a little chilly out so we didn’t stop to read all the signs this time but that just gives us a reason to stop again and check it out in the Spring or Summertime.
Path at Kilchis Point Reserve

Interpretive sign at Kilchis Point Reserve

Interpretive sign at Kilchis Point Reserve

Interpretive sign at Kilchis Point Reserve

We followed the brick path from the parking area keeping right at junctions a total of 1.2 miles to a bird watching gazebo at Tillamook Bay.
Brick path at Kilchis Point Reserve

Gazeebo for birdwatching at Kilchis Point Reserve

Tillamook Bay

We didn’t spot many animals (other than dogs) along the way but we did get to listen to a pair of bald eagles for a bit.
Bald eagle

After a short break by the bay we returned to the parking area by following signs and staying right at trail junctions to complete two short loops.
Trail sign at Kilchis Point Reserve

Kilchis Point

We then drove south to Tillamook and followed signs to Oceanside on Highway 131. From Oceanside we followed signs to Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and parked at a trailhead parking area at the park entrance.
Cape Meares Trailhead

A mudslide in January of 2013 closed the Three Capes Scenic Loop beyond the park entrance. That slide continues to slowly shift the area and has affected a trail between the trailhead and the beach to the north of Cape Meares. We decided to head down this trail to see the conditions first hand.
Cape Meares Trail map

Trail at Cape Meares

The upper portion of the trail was in reasonably good shape although there was a small tree that required ducking under.
Trail at Cape Meares

Shortly after passing a fairly nice view of another place we had previously hiked, Bayocean Spit, we came to a jumble of debris.
Bayocean Spit from Cape Meares

Washed out trail at Cape Meares

That was our turn around point,a little over half a mile from the trialhead. We headed back up to the trailhead and took the .2 mile Big Spruce Trail. The tree is estimated to be 750 to 800 years old and is the largest known Sitka spruce in Oregon.
Sign for the Big Spurce

Big Spruce

Big Spruce at Cape Meares

For a bit of perspective if the tree sprouted in 1217 it was there at the start of the fifth crusade.

After visiting the old tree we road walked .6 miles along the entrance road to the crowded parking area for the Cape Meares Lighthouse.
Cape Meares lighthouse parking

We stopped at a viewpoint platform overlooking Tower and Pillar Rocks to the north.
Tower and Pillar Rocks

A .2 mile path led from the parking area past more viewpoints to the lighthouse.
Cape Meares

Waterfall at Cape Meares

Cape Meares Lighthouse

Cape Meares Lighthouse

A second .2 mile path led back to the parking lot allowing for a short loop and providing views south to Cape Lookout and the Three Arch Rocks Wilderness, one of the two off-limits wilderness areas in Oregon.
Looking south from Cape Meares

After returning to the parking area we headed for the Octopus Tree which was just a tenth of a mile away.
Sign for the Octopus Tree

Octopus Tree at Cape Meares

Octopus Tree at Cape Meares

Another Sitka spruce, this unique tree has no central trunk. Instead several limbs have grown vertically. After visiting this tree we walked back up the entrance road to our car and headed home, capping off our first outing of 2018. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Nehalem Bay, Kilchis Point, and Cape Meares

Categories
Hiking Northern Coast Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Angora Peak and Cape Falcon

We are blessed to live in a State where one weekend we can hike amid sagebrush and wildflowers in the High Desert and the next weekend hike along the Pacific Ocean.

For our latest outing we headed to the Oregon Coast to check out one new destination and one familiar one. Our original plan was to break the day up into two hikes, first up Angora Peak from a gated logging road, then to Cape Falcon after driving back south on Highway 101 for 2 miles to the Short Sands Trail South Trailhead.  We had hiked to Cape Falcon from that same trailhead in 2012 which would mean we’d be duplicating that hike (which we try and avoid).

An alternative presented itself while researching the Angora Peak hike. The Oregon Coast Trail passes Cape Falcon and then crosses Cape Falcon Road to the north on it’s way to Arch Cape. Cape Falcon Road is just a tenth of a mile north of the gated logging road for the Angora Peak hike so by parking on the shoulder of Cape Falcon Road at the OCT we could hike up to Angora Peak and back then take the Oregon Coast Trail out to Cape Falcon and back. This would allow us to not have to drive to a second trailhead and we wouldn’t be duplicating our 2012 hike to Cape Falcon.

With the plan settled we dove north of Nehalem on Highway 101 for 8 miles and turned left onto Cape Falcon Road where we parked at a small pullout by a trail sign.
Oregon Coast Trail at Cape Falcon Road

We walked back to the highway which was less than 100 yards away, crossed to the east shoulder, and followed it south for .1 miles to the gated road. The lumber company has a sign posted regarding rules for the area which should always be followed in order to ensure they are not forced to close access.
Logging road to Angora Peak

The road passes through a landscape of clear cuts with Angora Peak in the distance.
Logging road to Angora Peak

We stuck to what was obviously the main road and in about a mile passes a quarry.
Quarry on the way to Angora Peak

Beyond the quarry we forked left after passing a 1 mile marker (blue spray painted 1 on a concrete slab). This road ended in tenth of a mile at a T-shaped junction with Arch Cape Mill Road.
Sign at the junction with Arch Cape Mill Road

We turned right on Arch Cape Mill Road passing another gate.
Gate on Arch Cape Mill Road

As we climbed higher up the road views back to the Pacific Ocean improved.
Pacific Ocean from Arch Cape Mill Road

Looking north past the clearcuts to Tillamook Head Tillamook Head

Tillamook Rock and Tillamook HeadTillamook Rock and Tillamook Head

There weren’t a lot of flowers blooming yet but here a few were in bloom.
Wood violets Violets

TrilliumTrillium

PaintbrushPaintbrush

SalmonberrySalmonberry

ColtsfootColtsfoot

Bleeding heartBleeding heart

Arch Cape Mill Road wound up along a cliff face to a viewpoint in about 3/4 of a mile.
Arch Cape Mill Road

Arch Cape Mill Road

Viewpoint along Arch Cape Mill Road

We followed the road another half a mile before veering right onto a brushy trail at a small rock cairn.
User trail off of Arch Cape Mill Road

User Trail

After a couple of hundred yards we came to a grassy opening a where we headed uphill on another old road bed.
Heading to the stone shelter

A short distance up the old road bed we came to an old stone shelter which showed signs of recent use including a fire pit. Just the kind of activity that could prompt the lumber company to close access.
Stone shelter

A short trail to the right from the shelter led to a viewpoint where we could see Neahkahnie Mountain and Cape Falcon in Oswald West State Park.
Neahkahnie Mountain and Cape Falcon

Up to this point we had been following Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” 4th edition which ended the hike at the viewpoint near the shelter. We decided to press on for Angora Peak following descriptions on Summitpost.org and in trip reports on Oregonhikers.org. We returned to Arch Cape Road and continued on. The road became very overgrown about 150 yards from the rock cairn so we followed another user trail for three tenths of a mile to a saddle where the conditions improved and views opened up.
Arch Cape Mill Road

To the south the green farmland along the Nehalem River stood out in stark contrast to the surrounding hills.
Nehalem to the south

Following the Nehalem River west it emptied into the Pacific beyond Neahkahnie Mountain.
Looking south

To the west was more ocean beyond the western end of Angora Peaks ridge.
West end of Angora Peak

To the east Arch Cape Mill Road could be seen passing between the rock pinnacles of Revenge of Angora and Angora Pinnacle.
Revenge of Angora and Little Angora rock pinnacles

We followed the road to a saddle between the two rock pinnacle where we turned sharply north onto another abandoned logging road. The road here was so overgrown it looked more like a trail now.
Arch Cape Mill Road

Gaps in the trees offered views north to Onion Peak (and Saddle Mountain beyond).
Onion Peak and Saddle Mountain

Onion Peak and Saddle Mountain

To the NE we could just make out Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. The lighting and the clouds did their best to camouflage them but with a little effort they were visible.
Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier in the distance

Mt. St. HelensMt. St. Helens

Slides are common in the coast range which we were reminded of along this stretch. A section of road was all but gone leaving a faint use trail as the only option. It is still passable for now but caution is warranted and a fear of heights would likely end the hike at this point.
Arch Cape Mill Road (what's left of it)

From the northern end of the slide we could see evidence of slide below Angora Pinnacle which may have happened this last winter.
Little Angora and a slide below it

Slide below Little Angora

Beyond the washout, the road made another brief appearance before becoming overgrown with trees.
Arch Cape Mill Road

Arch Cape Mill Road

When the GPS showed we were NW of the summit near the end of the road we turned off the road and headed uphill cross-country through the forest.
Forest on Angora Peak

We gained a ridge line and began to work our way toward the summit. The summit itself is reportedly view less due to trees but just to the west of actual summit is a rock out crop which did have a view and made for a perfect spot to sit and have a snack.
Nehalem River from a viewpoint just below the Angora Peak summit

We could even make out our next destination, Cape Falcon, from the rocks.
Neahkahnie Mountain

Cape Falcon

We returned as we’d come, arriving back at the Oregon Coast Trail and heading toward Cape Falcon.
Oregon Coast Trail

The trail crossed several streams on 5 footbridges before beginning to climb up and over a ridge. Much of the trail was muddy and there were several trees down which required some interesting maneuvers to get past.
Oregon Coast Trail

Oregon Coast Trail

Tree that shattered over the Oregon Coast Trail

Other sections were dry and lined with green sourgrass.
Oregon Coast Trail

Oregon Coast Trail

Sour grass

After approximately 2.5 miles we came to a familiar viewpoint looking north to Tillamook Head.
Tillamook Head from the Oregon Coast Trail

This is where we had turned around in 2012 having followed the OCT north after visiting Cape Falcon. In another 3/4 of a mile we reached a better viewpoint where we could see Cape Falcon and a number of colorful sea caves in the rocks below.
Cape Falcon

Cape Falcon

Seagulls near the sea caves

We continued on to a washed out creek crossing. Heather smartly used a nearby log instead of following my slippy effort to use the trail.
Oregon Coast Trail

Another quarter mile brought us to the spur trail out to Cape Falcon. Up to that point we’d seen one gentleman on the way to Angora Peak with his dogs on the lower portion of the logging road and two girls on the Oregon Coast Trail as we went over the ridge. Cape Falcon was a different story. There were a number of hikers that had come from the south, a large group of which were attempting to navigate an extremely muddy section of the trail.

Beyond the mud pit the trail dried out nicely as it passed through a tall hedge of salal and fern.
Trail out Cape Falcon

As we made our way out this .2 mile trail the brush got lower eventually opening up views to the south of Neahkahnie Mountain.
Cape Falcon

Neahkahnie Mountain

The trail extended out the cape to viewpoints along its rocky end.
Cape Falcon

Seabirds occupied the furthest reaches.
Birds on Cape Falcon

Birds on Cape Falcon

After a short break we headed back. On our way back up the ridge we may have spotted a northern flying squirrel. Something crossed my line of vision through the air from the left to the right appearing to land on a tree near a dark opening. At first I couldn’t see anything but then something moved on the tree so I quickly zoomed in and took a picture. It immediately darted into the opening without my being able to make our what it was but I thought it might have been a woodpecker. I was surprised when I uploaded the picture later to see a squirrel.
Possibly a norther flying squirrel

The picture quality makes an id nearly impossible and it may be that this squirrel came out of the opening in response to whatever I had seen but at this point there is still a possibility that it was a flying squirrel.

The rest of the hike back was uneventful as we passed back through the forest to Cape Falcon Road. We ended the day with 17 miles showing on the GPS, 8.9 during the Angora Peak portion and 8.1 to Cape Falcon and back. As we were changing out of our muddy clothes at the car a light rain started. We’d somehow timed it perfectly. Happy Trails!

Flickr:Angora Peak & Cape Falcon

Categories
Hiking Northern Coast Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Neahkahnie Mountain

Happy New Year! A favorable weather forecast encouraged us to kick off our 2014 hiking year a bit sooner than planned. Just as we had done last year we turned to the Oregon Coast to get things started. While most of the country was dealing with frigid temperatures we were off to Oswald West State Park where a Sun filled day and 50 degree temperatures awaited.

For Heather and I this was our second visit to the park. In June 2012 we hiked out and around Cape Falcon where wild flowers and dramatic views were plentiful. (Pictures from that hike can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157632953462404/ ) For this trip we were set to explore the southern end of the park and follow the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) up to the summit of 1631′ Neahkahnie Mountain.
Neahkahnie Mountain from Cape Falcon in 2012
Smugglers Cove

We parked in the large beach access parking area on the east side of Highway 101 where the Short Sand Beach trail begins. This was the same trail we had started on for our previous visit, but after a couple of hundred yards we turned left onto the Old Growth trail. Two tenths of a mile on that trail brought us to a trail junction with restrooms where we forked left on the .1 mile Cedar Crossing trail. This path ended at Necarney Creek where it intersected the .3 mile Necarney Creek trail. (As you can tell there are a lot of short trails in the area.)

At the Necarney Creek trail we had an option. According to the park brochure/trail map if we turned left we would find the .4 mile Necarney Falls trail. I had read a trip report from 2012 that indicated there was some bushwhacking involved in reaching the waterfall but the trail was still shown on the online map so left we went. Soon the Necarney Creek trail bent away from the creek which was where we had expected to find the falls trail, but there were no trail signs and we quickly reached the end of the creek trail at a small parking area. After re checking the park map and verifying the location of the supposed trail we returned to the bend to see if we could find it. There was a faint unmarked path leading toward the creek into the underbrush at the bend which we decided must have been what was left of the trail. It was less than .5 miles to the falls so we decided to make an attempt at reaching them and headed into the brush.

The former trail was virtually gone save for a few short sections here and there. We kept as close to the creek as possible as we made our way under the highway and up the narrow canyon. There were several slides and plenty of downed trees to pick our way around. After crossing a small side stream the canyon narrowed even more and we were forced down to the creek bed. Luckily the water level was low enough that we were able to stay dry by rock hopping until we reached Necarney Falls. The reward was worth the efforts.
Necarney Falls

We retraced our steps (as best as we could) and returned to the maintained trails where we followed the Necarney Creek trail to a foot bridge which crossed the creek and led to the Elk Flats trail.
Suspension bridge over Necarney Creek
We took a quick trip down to Short Sand Beach before for a photo-op before setting off on the Elk Flats trail.
Smugglers Cove
We then followed the 1.3 mile Elk Flats trail through the park passing several nice ocean views before entering a meadow near the Devils Cauldron overlook.
Meadow along the Elk Flats Trail

After taking in the view from the overlook we climbed east through the meadow to yet another small parking area along Hwy 101. Across the highway was the North Neahkahnie Mountain trail. Both the Neahkahnie Mountain and Elk Flats trail are part of the OCT which extends 360 miles from the Washington border to California. Less than 100 miles of the OCT are actual trail though, with the majority of rest of the miles being on beaches and the remainder on the shoulder of Highway 101.

After crossing the highway we quickly began climbing, needing to gain 1200′ in 2 miles of trail. The first section of the trail led up through an open meadow via a series of switchbacks. We guessed the meadow would be full of flowers in Spring and early Summer, but for this hike we were content with the views which extended from Cape Falcon in the north to Cape Mears and Cape Lookout to the south.
Looking up the meadow:
Meadow along the North Neahkahnie Mountain Trail
Cape Falcon from the meadow:
Cape Falcon from the North Neahkahnie Mountain Trail

At the top of the meadow the trail entered an old growth forest where it remained until we were just below the rocky summit. The view from the summit was excellent and the clear skies and lack of a significant breeze made it a perfect spot for lunch.
Entering the forest:
North Neahkahnie Mountain Trail
Summit view:
Nehalem Bay, The Pacific Ocean, Cape Mears, and Cape Lookout
Lunch:
Lunch on Neahkahnie Mountian

After lunch we returned they way we had come (minus the side trip to Necarney Falls 🙂 ). We decided to make one final stop though before leaving the coast. Dominique had not been with us in October when we hiked at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, so he had not had the experience of dining at the Pelican Pub. This was as close as our hiking schedule would bring us to Pacific City this year so we took a short detour and stopped in for an early dinner. The food was a good as we’d remembered and we were fortunate enough to be there as the Sun set over the Pacific which was a perfect way to end the first hike of the new year. Happy Trails!

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The rest of the photos on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157639463787314/ or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203069673009917.1073741867.1448521051&type=1