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.
Permit info at the gate.
Looking 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.
It’s hard to get an idea of size here but the two trees growing over the large nursery stump were good sized.
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 left.
On the far end of the slough on the right side of the road was a trail signed “3rd World”
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.)
Upper 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.
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.
Approaching the ridge top.
We turned left on Road 200 passing a 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.
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.
Heading off the main road.
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.
Great blue heron and buffleheads
Rough skinned newt
Northern pintail, heron, seagulls and some green winged teals.
One of a number of unique benches located along the trails.
A pair of footbridges.
Another rough skinned newt, there were many.
Another bench at a viewpoint.
Several benches were inlaid with rocks such as this which was a really neat feature.
Small 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.
After spending some time admiring the bridge we climbed up the other side where we came to Maryann’s Wind Phone, an unexpected surprise.
Informational 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.
This trunk had split into four.
Dropping down to another estuary.
Back up we go!
Found 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.
Bench on the far hillside above the clear cut.
Short path to the bench.
One of the trails.
We spotted our first wildflowers of the year on our way out. A lone violet and some blooming evergreen huckleberry.
A rather damp woolly bear caterpillar.
When we reached the 3rd World Trail we turned off Road 200 and followed it downhill through the forest.
This took at least two tenths of a mile off our return trip by cutting out the wide curve in the road walk.
Back to Road 200 near 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