Yakona Nature Preserve – 02/05/2022

After several hectic weeks at work for both Heather and I we celebrated the start of a new month (and a favorable forecast) by heading out on our second hike of the year. Our destination for this outing was the Yakona Nature Preserve, an area brought to our attention by our friends Susan and John. The preserve encompasses over 300 acres of a peninsula located at the south end of Newport in Yaquina Bay which as been acquired through various purchases since 2013. Several trails have been built in recent years with construction ongoing as the Yakona Nature Preserve works to fulfill its vision “to preserve and restore native forest land on the bay, with day use access for families, hikers and people of all abilities.”

I reached out to the folks at the preserve to check on any permit or reservation requirements to visit. They were quick to answer and provided me with the information we needed. As of our hike (and this report) there are two ways to visit the preserve, on a group hike led by the Yakona Nature Preserve or by obtaining a permit to hike 1.75 miles through private timber land to reach the preserve. We were informed that a group hike was tentatively planned for later in the month but we really needed to spend a day on the trails sooner rather than later and we couldn’t pass up a partly sunny day so we opted to go the permit route. If you’re interested in visiting the preserve please reach out via their contact page or message them on Facebook for more information.

With our permit obtained we headed to Newport and parked near the Wilder Dog Park and disc golf course just beyond the Wolf Tree Brewery and Taproom on SE Harborton Street. SE Harborton is gated at the start of the private land (do not block the gate) and becomes Road 200.
Emery Investment permit information at Road 200Permit info at the gate.

Road 200 gate at the Wilder Trails areaLooking back to the gate from Road 200.

From the gate we took Road 200 (the middle of three roads) and followed it for three quarters of a mile to King Slough where the road passes through the estuary.
Road 200

Big trees on an even bigger nursery stumpIt’s hard to get an idea of size here but the two trees growing over the large nursery stump were good sized.

Road 200

Kings Slough

Kings Slough

Hooded mergansersHooded Mergansers

After a brief stretch amid some trees, where we stayed left at another 3-way fork, we crossed another arm of King Slough.
Road 200 to the leftRoad 200 to the left.

King Slough

On the far end of the slough on the right side of the road was a trail signed “3rd World”
3rd World Trail at Road 200

This wasn’t the first trail we’d seen leading off to the right, we had passed at least three earlier some of which appeared to be part of the disc golf course, but this was the first that we would pass both ends of. A half mile further up Road 200 we passed the upper end of the 3rd World Trail and decided that we would take that trail on our way back. The various trails which are open to mountain bikes, trail runners and hikers can be viewed here. (Don’t forget your permit.)
3rd World TrailUpper end of the 3rd World Trail.

We had stayed on Road 200 through which climbed uphill via a wide curve. As we gained elevation we spotted a couple of elk in the brush on the hillside above.

It turned out that there were quite a few elk in the area and for the next third of a mile or so we occasionally spotted them in the road or heard them crashing through the brush.
Elk with breakfast

Road 200

Two tenths of a mile beyond the upper end of the 3rd World Trail we came to a split in the road on a ridge top. Road 200 turned left while Road 250 continued straight.
Road 200Approaching the ridge top.

We turned left on Road 200 passing a sign for the Yakona Nature Preserve.
Road 200

Sign for the Yakona Nature Preserve

In another 0.2 miles we came to a gate which we passed around per the directions received from the preserve.
Gate at the Yakona Nature Preserve boundary

As of yet there are no maps available of the nearly 4 miles of trails here so we were operating on the directions we’d received via email: “There is a good road all the way to the edge of the forest and you’ll pass, on your right, the clear cut we’ve replanted. Most of the trails take off into the forest from there, and the road continues for another 3/4 mile, traverses forest, and ends at a wetland. There are multiple trails off that forest road. We’re still developing a trails map, but as a general rule, when you’re ready to exit Yakona and not sure where you are, head UPHILL to return to the road you hiked in on. Uphill is your way out. All of our trails connect to one another or to the road. Keep in mind that we are still in the build out stage.” We also had found a map for a 30k race that went through the preserve to give us a bit of an idea where some of the trails were located. We turned left off the main road where the race had with the plan being to work our way clockwise around the peninsula sticking as close to the edge as the trails allowed. We had one specific goal in mind which was to find the Yakona Bridge, a replica of the Yaquina Bridge spanning Yaquina Bay. We knew that the bridge had been part of the race course but were unsure where along the route it was located.
Yakona Nature PreserveHeading off the main road.

Yakona Nature Preserve

It was clear that there had been a lot of work done to establish the trails and that that work was still continuing. The trails dipped and climbed bringing us to the bay at times and to views above at others.
Kings Slough

Female common goldeneyeCommon goldeneye

Great blue heron and buffleheadsGreat blue heron and buffleheads

Rough skinned newtRough skinned newt

Coral fungusCoral fungus

Kings Slough

Northern pintail, heron, seagulls and possible some green winged tealsNorthern pintail, heron, seagulls and some green winged teals.

American wigeons?American wigeons

Bench at the Yakona Nature PreserveOne of a number of unique benches located along the trails.

Yakona Nature PreserveStone steps

Bridges in the Yakona Nature PreserveA pair of footbridges.

Rough skinned newtAnother rough skinned newt, there were many.


Bench at the Yakona Nature PreserveAnother bench at a viewpoint.

Yakona Nature Preserve

Bench at the Yakona Nature Preserve

Bench at the Yakona Nature PreserveSeveral benches were inlaid with rocks such as this which was a really neat feature.

Yakona Nature PreserveSmall footbridge ahead.

Beyond the little footbridge the trail climbed to a ridge top on the NE side of the peninsula where looking down the other side we spotted the Yakona Bridge.
Yakona Nature Preserve

Footbridge at the Yakona Nature Preserve

Footbridge at the Yakona Nature PreserveYakona Bridge.

After spending some time admiring the bridge we climbed up the other side where we came to Maryann’s Wind Phone, an unexpected surprise.
Footbridge at the Yakona Nature Preserve

Maryann's Wind Telephone at Yakona Nature Preserve

Sign for Maryann's Wind Telephone at Yakona Nature PreserveInformational sign for the wind phone.

We continued with our “stay as far to the outside as possible” plan which resulted in us passing a pair of wells before winding up at the end of the entrance road.
Yakona Nature Preserve

Four trunks from oneThis trunk had split into four.

Well at the Yakona Nature Preserve

Well at the Yakona Nature Preserve

Yakona Nature PreserveDropping down to another estuary.

Yakona Nature Preserve

Bench at the Yakona Nature Preserve

Bench at the Yakona Nature Preserve

Yakona Nature PreserveBack up we go!

Yakona Nature PreserveFound the road.

We had covered approximately 3 miles on the trails and now we hiked back along the road which passed several trails leading off the road and another interesting bench overlooking the replanted clear cut.
Yakona Nature Preserve

Yakona Nature PreserveBench on the far hillside above the clear cut.

Yakona Nature Preserve

Yakona Nature PreserveShort path to the bench.

Banches at the Yakona Nature Preserve

Yakona Nature Preserve benches

Yakona Nature PreserveOne of the trails.

We spotted our first wildflowers of the year on our way out. A lone violet and some blooming evergreen huckleberry.

Evergreen huckleberry blossom

Woolly bear caterpillarA rather damp woolly bear caterpillar.

When we reached the 3rd World Trail we turned off Road 200 and followed it downhill through the forest.
3rd World Trail


This took at least two tenths of a mile off our return trip by cutting out the wide curve in the road walk.
3rd World Trail at Road 200 near Kings SloughBack to Road 200 near Kings Slough.

Kings Slough

Once we were back on Road 200 we followed it back to the Wilder Area. We finally saw some other people when a group of trail runners popped onto the road from the unsigned Drop Zone Trail. By the time we were back at the car we had hiked 8.8 miles with a surprising amount of ups and downs providing a decent amount of elevation gain (1000-1500′). It will be interesting to keep an eye on the progress the Yakona Nature Preserve makes in restoring and developing the area. While it was free to visit we did make a donation via their website to help them fulfill their vision. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Yakona Nature Preserve

Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

South Beach and Depoe Bay

On the way to our annual family reunion near Gleneden Beach we made several stops to check out short trails in the Newport and Depoe Bay areas. For our first stop we parked next to the Hatfield Marine Science Center and took the paved Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail from the east end of the parking lot.

We were hoping to see some wildlife along the half mile trail and we weren’t disappointed. Just from the parking lot there were many birds visible.



There was also a snake sunning itself at the beginning of the path.


We followed the path along the estuary to its other end near the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

The final stretch of trail was across a boardwalk.

IMG_9736View from the boardwalk

We were impressed by the number of herons and egrets in the bay.




In addition to the the herons, egrets, and numerous seagulls there were many other birds in the area, most of which didn’t want to stop for pictures.


After returning to our car we drove to Highway 101 and headed south to the signed entrance of South Beach State Park. Here we parked at the Day Use Area and hiked past the restrooms over the foredune to the ocean.



We turned right and headed north along the beach toward the south jetty about a mile away.


From the jetty we could see a pair of lighthouses, the Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head Lighthouses. They had been the stops on our way to the reunion in 2017 (post).


We turned inland at the jetty continuing for just over a quarter of a mile to the South Jetty parking area.

IMG_9758Part of the Oregon Coast Trail


An osprey was busy eating its catch on a nearby tower.


From the South Jetty parking area we took the paved South Beach Jetty Trail back to the South Beach State Park Day Use Area for a two and a quarter mile loop.


Our next stop was the Mike Miller Trail which is located on the east side of Highway 101 along SE 50th Street which was just two tenths of a mile north of the South Beach State Park entrance. We parked along the shoulder of 50th St. near the start of the trail.

They were out of trail guides at the trailhead so we weren’t able to follow along with the numbered stops along the 1-mile loop but we did get to see some nice coastal old-growth trees along the way. We followed signs for the Mike Miller Trail which crossed a marshy pond twice on footbridges.



IMG_9786One of several benches along the trail.


From the Mike Miller Trail we returned to Highway 101 and drove north through Newport toward Depot Bay. We turned inland on Schoolhouse Street just south of Depoe Bay at a Shell Station. We immediately forked left and drove downhill toward the bay following City Park signs. After parking we headed into the park where we followed signs for the South Depoe Bay Creek Nature Trail.


The forested path followed South Depoe Bay Creek for a quarter of a mile to a footbridge where a .3 mile loop began.



We crossed the creek and stayed left on the main trail at junctions. The trail passed a huge, hollow old stump with two trees growing off of it.

A second nearby stump was covered in green foliage.

The trail recrossed the still creek and passed a rather large picnic table before completing the loop.


A short distance prior to the start of the loop we had passed a fork where the right hand path led uphill.

On our way back we turned uphill on that trail and climbed through the trees to Indian Trail Avenue.


We followed this road down to the Shell Station along Highway 101 passing a little whale statue/slide.

We then followed the highway north into Depoe Bay.



We could have crossed the highway and visited the Whale Watching Center or browsed the local shops, but we didn’t want to be late for the reunion so we simply turned right onto Bay St. after crossing over the highway bridge following it around the bay to the Coast Guard boathouse.
IMG_9816Whale Watching Center



We continued along the bay until we reached a wide footbridge across South Depoe Bay Creek back to the city park.


This wound up being a 1.7 mile round trip bringing our total mileage for day to a grand total of 6 miles. It was a nice variety of trails and a good way to work up an appetite before the reunion. Happy Trails!

Flickr: South Beach and Depot Bay Trails

Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head

It’s become tradition to take a shortish hike on the Oregon Coast the morning of our annual family reunion in Gleneden Beach, OR. This year we decided to visit a pair of lighthouses near Newport.

A 5am start got us to our first stop at Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site a little before 7.

Home to the 1871 Yaquina Bay Lighthouse the 32 acre park also offers access to an approximately 4 mile stretch of beach between the Yaquina River and Yaquina Head.

We parked below the lighthouse, which operated only three years before being replaced by the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

From a viewpoint in the parking lot we could see the Yaquina Bay Bridge and watch boats heading out to sea.
Yaquina Bay Bridge

Yaquina Bay Jetty

A paved path led down the bluff to a sandy path in the deflation zone behind a small foredune.
Trail from Yaquina Bay Lightouse to the ocean

Heading to the Pacific Ocean

We passed over the foredune and turned left toward the Yaquina River.
Yaquina Bay Jetty

The sound of sealions in the bay greeted us as we approached the jetty where we spotted some squatters on a buoy.
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Yaquina Bay Bridge

Seals on a bouy

We turned around and headed north along the beach. It was an interesting beach with many small dune like formations.
Yaquina Bay Recreation Site

It was a typical summer morning on the coast with patches of marine layer clouds along the way.
Seagulls at Yaquina Bay Recreation Site

Yaquina Head in the fog

Yaquina Head

Wildlife along the way consisted of seagulls and shore birds as well as a couple of small tide pools where we spotted anemones and some sand crabs.

Shore birds



Sand crab

Of particular interest were a couple of jellyfish with some sort of colorful lines.

Another peculiar sight along the way were some sand formations that reminded us of clay sculptures.
Interesting sand formations

Interesting sand formations

Interesting sand formation

Interesting sand formation

The beach began to narrow as we neared Yaquina Head and we soon came to Little Creek which was running parallel to the ocean.
Yaquina Head

Little Creek at Agate Beach

Yaquina Head forced the creek to finally turn toward the ocean and we followed it along the cliffs as it emptied into the Pacific.
Little Creek at Agate Beach

Little Creek at Agate Beach

Little Creek emptying into the Pacific

Pacific Ocean

We passed various birds along the creek including a pigeon guillemot which was a bird we were unfamiliar with.


Bird near Little Creek

Pigeon guillemot
Pigeon guillemot

We headed back south along the beach staying closer to the ocean which brought us to a crossing of some tide water. In our infinite wisdom we waded through the water soaking our shoes and socks before realizing that this was not one of our typical stream crossings. The rocks in mountain creeks and rivers make crossing barefoot a bad idea but on the beach we could have easily taken them off before wading through.
Looking south from Agate Beach

We were back at our car by 9:45 so we had plenty of time to make a second stop at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse (even after stopping at the Newport Safeway to pick up some cilantro). Located on Yaquina Head 4.5 miles north of Newport the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area has a lot to offer. Oregon’s tallest lighthouse, tide pools, several trails, and an interpretive center (which wasn’t there the last time we visited) make the $7/car pass seem reasonable, especially given the pass is valid for three days.

We didn’t have a lot of time so we drove past the interpretive center and parked at the end of the road near the lighthouse.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

We walked to the lighthouse first stopping at viewpoints along the way. Several grey whales could be seen surfacing and blowing water into the air.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Looking north to Cape Foulweather


Whale spout

Grey back whale seen from Yaquina Head

Grey back whale seen from Yaquina Head

After watching the whales for a bit we continued around the lighthouse and then headed for nearby Cobble Beach.
Tide pools at Yaquina Head

The beach is home to some very good tide pools and the tide was out far enough for some of them to be revealed.
Tide pools at Yaquina Head

We took the wooden staircase down toward the beach and after some last minute rules and instructions from rangers at the bottom of the stairs we began exploring the pools. Touching anything but the starfish (the rangers informed us that they were dealing with some sort of illness) was allowed but no picking up.
Tide pool at Cobble Beach - Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Sea urchins, snails and mussles


Tide pool at Cobble Beach - Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Tide pool at Cobble Beach - Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Sea urchins

Sea urchins

Star fish

Large sea rocks just beyond the tide pools are part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, one of only tow wilderness areas in Oregon closed to humans.
Signboard for the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Not all the wildlife stuck to the islands though as a section of Cobble Beach was closed off due to a resting seal.
Seal on Cobble Beach

After making our way around the pools we headed back up the stairs. It was still a bit early to head for the reunion so we decided to check out the short trail up Salal Hill which began at the lot where we had parked.
Salal Hill Trailhead

The .4 mile path switchbacked up the small hill at a nice gradual grade.
Salal Hill

Some lingering flowers showed that there was more to the hill than just salal bushes.
Pearly everlasting


Salal Hill Trail

Wildflowers along the Salal Hill Trail

The trail passed above the interpretive center before arriving at the small, flat summit.
The interpretive center below the Salal Hill Trail

Salal Hill Trail

From the summit we had a nice view north to Cape Foulweather.
Looking north from the Salal Hill Trail

To the west was the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and the Pacific Ocean.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse from the Salal Hill Trail

We headed down after a short stay since it was now time to make our way to the reunion. We could have spent a lot more time exploring the area so we’ll have to go back again sometime. As we were coming down the hill we spotted another whale which we watched for a moment. It seemed to be giving us a goodbye wave, what a polite way to end our hike. Happy Trails!
Grey back whale

Flickr: Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head