Saturday, November 28, 2020
Today we did the hike to Hart’s Cove on the Oregon Coast. Continue reading
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Today we did the hike to Hart’s Cove on the Oregon Coast. Continue reading
Friday, November 27, 2020
While staying at the coast this weekend we decided to take advantage of a gorgeous day to hike up to God’s Thumb in Lincoln City. Continue reading
Monday, May 6, 2019
On the final day of our long coast weekend we decided to visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area which stretches about 50 miles from Florence at the north end to the town of North Bend at the south end. We stopped at the Oregon Dunes Visitor Center (only open weekdays) in Reedsport, which is about at the halfway point between Florence and North Bend:
We intended to do a hike starting from the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area, but we accidentally parked and started hiking from the Tahkenitch Creek Trailhead just south of there. We quickly realized our mistake, but decided to go a short distance and then drive over and do the hike we had intended to do.
After hiking a little bit, Deb said “let’s take a shortcut!” The car was very close by as the crow flies, but it turns out we should have stayed on the trail. Although this “shortcut: started out in sandy dunes, it quickly took us into some thick brush that got more so as we proceeded. Stupidly, we decided to keep going, rather than turn around. The brush was unbelievably dense and the going was slow. At one point Deb grabbed my pack (because it kept getting hung up on the brush) and forged ahead to scout the best route, often doubling back and looking for a better way. I only took a few photos during the ordeal and these were in sections where it wasn’t quite as bad, so imagine something far worse than this:
By the time we got back to the car I was bruised and tired and in no mood to do any more hiking, so we never did the trail we had intended to do. Instead we drove back to Reedsport and stopped in at the Umpqua Discovery Center:
We found a friendly furry greeter named Buckaroo:
Why yes, I’d be happy to stretch out and let you pet my tummy:
The museum’s exhibits covered the natural and cultural history of the region. It wasn’t a comprehensive history, though. The whole white-men-displacing-the-natives story wasn’t told. But the painted panels throughout the museum were quite beautiful:
Afterward we went up to the viewing platform on top of the museum for a nice view of the Umpqua River:
We had a bite to eat in Reedsport and then started heading home on Highway 38. It was such a warm gorgeous afternoon and we weren’t quite ready to end the day. On Google Maps we saw a park called Umpqua Myrtle State Park on Henderer Road west of Elkton, so we drove over to check it out.
It turned out, however, to be non-existent. The Sawyer’s Rapids County Boat Ramp was nearby, though, so we parked there and walked down to the river to check it out:
Because the river was so high there was no shoreline for us to walk on, but it was still pretty standing there at the end of the boat ramp:
As we drove back to Highway 38 on Henderer we saw this flock of wild turkeys in the grass. Their heads sticking up above the grass totally cracked me up! One of them gave a “gobble” which made my day.
So that was our long weekend at the coast! We were EXTREMELY fortunate to have such good weather. It never rained, and while we had a lot of wind, we also had a lot of sunshine. Four straight days of sunny weather at the coast is pretty remarkable! It was a fun and beautiful weekend.
Sunday, May 5, 2019
Our first stop this morning was the New River Nature Center. We could find no information about its hours online and there was no recording at the number that’s listed for it. So we took a gamble. When we arrived around 9:15 the place was locked up with no posted hours. A volunteer was inside and heard us. It turned out the place didn’t open until 10am, but he opened the door and let us in to have a look around. He sure was a chatty fellow!
Do you see the resemblance?
We went down to the boat ramp to see the New River, so-called because an 1890 flood created this miles-long “moat” paralleling the ocean:
Then we drove south down to the Gold Beach area, and drove inland a bit into the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to hike the short Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail, dedicated to Frances Shrader, a long-time employee of the Forest Service who was instrumental in developing plans for this trail:
As the name of this trail implies, there are some huge Douglas Fir and Port Orford Cedar in here:
This is a scar from a very very old trail blaze:
Our next stop was the nearby Myrtle Tree Trail:
This is the largest myrtlewood tree in the world!
We drove into Lobster Creek Campground, right next to where Road 3310 crosses over the Rogue River. There’s a boat ramp here and a huge gravelly beach. It was pretty quiet here today, but I bet it’s very busy in the summer:
After lunch in Gold Beach, our next stop was the Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor. (The name comes from Sebastian Vizcaino, who explored this area in 1602 on behalf of Spain.) This park has the distinction of having the highest overlook reachable by car on the south coast. We parked in the south lot, where we would normally have views, but today it was totally socked in, even though it had been beautiful and sunny just a few miles north in Gold Beach:
We hiked the trail south (described here):
Red lichen on the cliffs:
The trail started descending and in addition to some poison oak we saw lots of these pretty purple flowers (I believe they are Blueblossom ceanothus):
We continued to descend down, down, down:
The rock here is pockmarked, which is known as tafoni:
The trail continued on to Hunters Cove (named for the 19th century hunters who killed sea otters for their pelts):
Now we can see the beach at Hunter’s Cove:
The trail kind of peters out above the beach and you have to scramble down a crumbly slope with the aid of a rope. This is Deb climbing back up when we left:
Hunter’s Cove is big and lonely. We walked a short distance on the beach, which was completely deserted:
Cool tilted rocks in the sand:
The high tide line goes right up to the base of the cliff, so it’s good we didn’t visit during high tide!
Hunter’s Island looked like a hippo:
Looking south toward Cave Rock and Meyers Creek. If we had the time and inclination we could have hiked on the beach all the way down there:
We scrambled back up to the trail and got one last view of Hunter’s Cove before starting our hike back up to the car:
As we reached the top of the headland and the parking area the clouds FINALLY started burning off and revealing views to the north:
We could see north to Gold Beach, and the distant silhouette of Humbug Mountain:
Saturday, May 4, 2019
On the second day of our trip we drove out to Cape Blanco State Park, the westernmost point of Oregon. It was named in 1603 by the Spanish explorer Martin D’Aguilar because of the chalky appearance of the headland. The gate to the lighthouse had not been opened yet, so we parked the car at the gate and walked the road out there.
It was totally overcast and EXTREMELY windy. I imagine it’s very windy here all the time. The lighthouse was built in 1870. Today there is a visitor’s center and for a small fee you can tour the lighthouse.
We walked back to our car admiring all the seastacks to the north of Cape Blanco:
We decided to walk the South Cape Trail that heads towards the campground.
The clouds were starting to burn off:
And then poof, the sky was blue!
There’s Humbug Mountain again. You can see that thing for miles around here:
We found a nice grassy day use area at the campground and it was protected from the wind, so we sat here for awhile and enjoyed the beautiful view:
We headed into the campground to use the bathroom and spotted this rabbit. Cute!
Back at the car the gate was now open, as was the visitor center, so we drove the road out to the lighthouse. I used my kestrel to measure the wind at 19 mph (that may not sound like much, but it is):
A sunny shot of the lighthouse, which was now open for tours:
After taking a spin through the visitor center we drove towards the Hughes House, first stopping at this pioneer cemetery:
The Hughes House is a beautiful historic home. Here is what the Oregon Encyclopedia says
Built in 1898, the Patrick and Jane Hughes House in Curry County is a significant survivor of a large, prosperous ranch and dairy business operated by Patrick Hughes and his family. Located just north of the headland of Cape Blanco, the imposing house was built on an elevated terrace immediately south of the Sixes River, with a view of the ocean. It is considered the best preserved, largely unaltered, late nineteenth-century house in the county.
The house was staffed by two volunteers and open for visitors, so we took a look around:
Afterward we e drove down to a boat ramp area on the Sixes River just below the house and followed the Oregon Coast Trail to the northwest:
We passed through a gate with a sign for the Castle Beach Trail:
The windswept beach was littered with a whole bunch of driftwood. It felt like a lonely and seldom-visited place, but very beautiful:
We had a view of Cape Sebastian and the lighthouse:
To the north was Castle Rock and the mouth of the Sixes River:
There were lots of birds out on Gull Rock:
We found shelter from the wind behind a large log and Deb took a little cat nap with a glove serving as sun protection for her face:
Hiking back to the car we could see the mountains to the east:
The trail passes through some pasture areas and we saw sheep who wanted nothing to do with us:
Back at the boat ramp we checked out the Sixes River:
After stopping for a bite to eat in Port Orford we drove out to Port Orford Heads State Park. The Lifeboat Station museum was about to close, so we stopped in there first. The Port Orford Lifeboat Station (#318) operated from 1934 to 1970. The Coast Guard men who were stationed here responded to distress signals from ships off the coast, and launched their lifeboats from Nellie’s Cove to go rescue the crews. Today the old barracks serves as a museum documenting this history (you can also read more about it here):
They have a self-righting lifeboat on display outside:
After that we set out on the trail to do a short loop hike around the heads (hike described here):
From the trail you can look down on Nellie’s Cove, where the boathouse used to be when this was a lifeboat station. The cove is 300 feet below the barracks and other buildings, so the men had to descend 500+ steps to get down here to their boats. The boathouse burned in 1970 and all that remain are the pilings and the concrete breakwater:
This was a really idyllic spot! We were protected from the wind here, the water was a beautiful blue-green (these photos don’t do it justice, and the sun was shining). We also saw a harbor seal swimming in the water below, which was a treat.
We tore ourselves away and continued on our loop. We got yet another view of Humbug Mountain:
This is where the 37-foot watch tower used to stand. A man would be stationed here watching for distress flares from a floundering ship and when he spotted one he would use his emergency phone to alert the men at the station so they could launch a boat to go rescue the sailors:
View to the west:
We saw a whole bunch of iris on this little hike:
And some larkspur:
We hiked the Headland Trail out to this point where it was VERY windy. That’s Cape Blanco in the distance:
Hiking back on the Headland Trail:
What a beautiful day! Back at camp that evening we had a nice campfire with the seasoned wood we got in town:
Friday, May 3, 2019
My sister and I spent a long weekend at the Oregon Coast. We weren’t brave enough to camp in a tent (or maybe we’re just getting soft as we get older), so Thursday night we rolled into the KOA where we had booked a cabin. We still cooked outside on the Coleman stove, but we had a warm dry place to sleep:
Our first stop this morning was Battle Rock Wayside Park in Port Orford. In 1851 Captain William Tichenor dropped off nine men on the beach here. The local Qua-to-mah tribe wasn’t too happy about that, and according to the sign at the park for two weeks the men were “besieged on the island now called Battle Rock.” They were finally able to slip away in the night and escaped north to Umpqua City. Of course we know how this story ends: white men return in greater numbers and the native people are removed. You can read more here.
We also had a view of the harbor and the “dolly dock” there. The harbor is too shallow so hoists lift the boats in and out of the water every day:
It was a gorgeous day:
We could see Humbug Mountain in the distance. Those rocks in the ocean are part of the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve.:
There is a nice viewing area here at Battle Rock:
And a visitor’s center (which wasn’t open):
Our next stop was Sisters Rocks State Park, an obscure and unsigned park right by Highway 101 south of Humbug Mountain State Park. We parked at this blocked-off road, but we later realized that the gravel parking area just south of here would have worked too:
We walked down the old road, which was in use when Frankport Beach (on the north side of this little peninsula area) was the site of a dock for loading tanoak bark onto ships:
Sisters Rocks was also the site of a rock quarry in the 50s and 60s. Now the road is gated:
View of Sisters Rocks:
We could see into the cave below us. It used to be an enclosed cave, but the roof collapsed so now it is open to the sky:
Looking north to Humbug Mountain:
The old road took us down to the base of the rocks and we went over to look into the sea cave:
We went around to the side of the rock to look into the cave entrance on the side:
We walked north a little bit along the beach. The water was so blue! The sky was so blue! Here’s Humbug Mountain again:
We followed raccoon tracks on the beach for a little ways:
Looking back at the rocks:
We hiked back up the old road to the car and drove north to Humbug Mountain to hike up it. It’s a workout! We climbed up through the forest:
When we reached the junction we went right on the West Trail:
There is one spot with a view to the north. That’s Port Orford Heads State Park to the left, and the town of Port Orford to the right:
And Highway 101 winding its way toward Port Orford:
When we got to the top we discovered a recently opened-up view. As near as I can tell, crews cleared some trees up here just this spring, considerably opening up the views to the south. You can see what the summit “view” looked like in this hiker’s photo from May 2016. Here is what it looked like during our visit:
Also, the crews crafted some nice wooden benches from the trees they cut:
We could see some prominent peaks in the mountains to the east. The prominent one on the left with a patch of snow on it is Saddle Mountain (no, not THAT Saddle Mountain). The point sticking up to its right is Collier Butte. The forested hill in the foreground right of center is Colebrook Butte:
The summit was protected from the relentless wind and the sunshine felt great. After sitting there and enjoying the view for awhile we hiked back down through the trees:
We saw a few trillium:
Back in Port Orford we followed signs to the Wetland Interpretive Walkway, which was a little boardwalk in a wetland right in town:
To wrap up the day we stopped at Paradise Point, a beach access point just outside of Port Orford. These pretty pink flowers were blooming, although they are no doubt non-native:
To the north we could see Cape Blanco, which we would be visiting tomorrow:
To the south we could see Port Orford Heads:
We walked on the beach for a short distance, but it was just too crazy windy to be out there long:
Sunday, April 28, 2019
NOTE: Before you read on, if you are planning to visit God’s Thumb please use good judgement. People come here and make poor decisions and then need rescuing. As of this writing, the trail to the top of God’s Thumb is rough and steep and unofficial.
This was a GORGEOUS day at the coast so I decided to hike to God’s Thumb before driving home. I used the directions from this article, but unfortunately I turned too soon which resulted in me hiking a bunch of extra unnecessary mileage.
I parked at Road’s End State Park:
Then started walking up Sal-La-Sea Drive (where a red-winged blackbird greeted me):
The directions said to walk one mile “to a junction with NW Port Drive, and turn right. There may be signs pointing the way toward “The Knoll.”” I had not gone one mile, but there was a sign for The Knoll and a gate, and Google Maps said this was Port Dr. So I turned right.
That sign had a nice map on it that I photographed, glanced at, but should have looked at closer. I realized too late that I should have kept road-walking to the parking spot directly south of The Knoll, where the red marker is. Instead I turned off at the other marked parking spot, just below and to the right, and started hiking east.
The right-of-way was pretty wide with the path down the middle. It looked like it was intended to be a road at one point:
I popped out at the end of NE Devil’s Lake Blvd (labeled “cul de sac” on that map). Later I did some research online and discovered that this whole area I was hiking through was called The Villages at Cascade Head. Back in 2013 Lincoln City purchased it “from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) at the end of May for $2,500,000. The property is the subject of an environmentally-friendly development that was foreclosed upon. Its 363 acres are almost entirely wooded and provide habitat for a number of protected species of animals and plants.” (article)
At that time, the city planned “to keep some of the property as open space, develop some of it for affordable housing, and then sell off pieces of the property to private investors to develop in an environmentally-friendly fashion. In the meantime, the City will designate the property as an interim park.”
I found this presentation from 2017 that indicates that city would like to develop the area along Devil’s Lake Blvd, but based on the maps it doesn’t look like it would include The Knoll.
I crossed to the other side of the cul de sac, and picked up the trail heading east:
At some point it felt like I left behind what was once intended to be a road, and was now on a true forest trail:
However, maybe I was wrong because I passed the rusting remains of an old car just downhill from the trail. It was too far-gone to tell what it once was.
Also, it appeared that someone had recently (and probably illegally) driven their vehicle on this path, as I saw tread marks for quite a distance:
I was now making a big unnecessary loop over and around:
The Knoll was out of my way, an out-and-back side trip that would not be on the way to God’s Thumb, so I decided to skip that. I passed through a meadow:
I was now out of the parcel owned by the city and was hiking in the Siuslaw National Forest. I hiked through more trees, and emerged into another meadow:
And I could now FINALLY see the ocean:
Just a little further on I got my first view of God’s Thumb:
I hiked down to a saddle below it:
Then scrambled up to the top where I had a great view north to Cascade Head:
And a great view south:
After sitting there for awhile I made my way back down and headed down the path that would dump me out at Logan Road. I took one last look back at God’s Thumb before entering the trees:
Many parts of this section of the trail were horrifically muddy:
The path came out on a gravel road which I followed to Logan Road, passing through a gate. It now looked like a driveway, but were not any “no trespassing” signs:
To get back to Road’s End and my car I walked down to Logan until I reached this beach access point at NW 73rd:
And then I walked the rest of the way back on the beach:
Before getting off the beach at Road’s End I turned back and saw God’s Thumb poking up to the north:
I’ve heard a lot about this hike so it was nice to do it on such a beautiful day. I hope the city can improve the muddy parts of the trail.
Here’s my route:
Saturday, January 19 through Monday, January 21, 2019
Greg and I spent the holiday weekend in Yachats, a cute little town on the Oregon Coast that I have never visited as an adult. On Saturday we stopped at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and were surprised to find the visitor’s center open. This is a national forest and with the government shutdown we didn’t expect any facilities to be open. Turns out volunteers were running things. Hooray for volunteers!
From the visitor’s center we did the short hike upstream along Cape Creek to see a giant Sitka Spruce.
This giant Sitka Spruce is 40 feet in circumference, 185 feet tall, and approximately 550 years old. Until a 1962 windstorm broke off the top, it was 225 feet tall.
After that we returned to the visitor’s center and hiked in the other direction toward the ocean, passing the foundation of a long-gone building from the days when a CCC camp stood here:
We stopped at the viewpoint for the spouting horn, but since it wasn’t high tide we didn’t see any spouting going on:
View of highway bridge over Cook’s Chasm:
We followed the path north:
There was a lot of sea foam:
We continued north to Cape Creek Cove, which we could see from above before descending steps down to it:
This is a nice protected cove where Cape Creek flows into the ocean. I’m sure this little beach is a zoo during nice weather. Today hardly anyone was there.
We headed to our Airbnb, a super cute cabin on the edge of Yachats. It was just perfect for a winter stay at the beach:
We ate dinner that night at the Drift Inn Cafe, which had some cool decor.
On Monday we went back to Cape Perpetua to see the spouting horn at high tide:
We also saw Thor’s Well:
Then we hiked the St. Perpetua Trail:
The trail heads up to a day use area and viewpoint that is reachable by car. We hiked the Whispering Pines trail over to West Shelter which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s:
The view was lovely:
Before heading home we also visited Yachats State Park:
So what did we do on Saturday? The weather wasn’t great so I spent a lot of time in this cozy reading nook reading a book:
We also attended the Yachats Agate Festival where I picked up this pretty agate pendant:
As part of the festival, the nearby Yachats Community Presbyterian Church was open to visitors. They have a panel of agate windows that are pretty cool:
Of course they had a piano and Greg asked if he could play it for a bit:
Great weekend at the coast! Yachats is pretty great.
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Greg and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in the Coos Bay area. We drove down Friday in the POURING rain, and since the weather was so abysmal we did a fun indoor activity: wine-tasting! We visited three tasting rooms in the little town of Elkton, which I visited on a much nicer day back in 2012:
We drove on, stopping at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. Most of the elk were far away, but we saw a few that were close:
We checked into our yurt at Sunset Bay State Park, then backtracked 20 minutes into town for dinner.
The next day we did a hike that started at the Sunset Bay day use area:
Before long we reached a nice viewpoint:
Hiking on we continued to see cool rock formations and great views:
We also had views of the Cape Arago Lighthouse:
Looking back along our route:
Erosion is constant at the coast. We saw this broken fence dangling along the cliff edge:
Loved the clash of water and rock:
Saw several cool mushrooms:
As we approached the main part of Shore Acres State Park we crossed the old tennis courts:
Cool cannonball rocks:
Louis J. Simpson built a mansion here in 1907. It burned down in 1921, was rebuilt in 1928, and then the property was sold to the state in 1942. The second mansion was razed in 1948. This observatory now sits on the site. It has nice views and interpretive signs explaining the history and geology of this place:
Looking north from the Observatory. Starting to get colder and cloudier:
The botanical garden from the Simpson days is still here. We would return in a few hours to see the holiday light show here:
We made a loop by walking back on the old Simpson driveway:
After some hot tea back at the yurt we drove to the third state park in the chain, Cape Arago. We walked down a short trail to see the sea lions. What a racket!
There were a lot of them gathered on that rock out there, which we would see from a roadside viewpoint the next day:
After dinner we went back to the park to see the holiday lights. The backup of cars waiting to get in had been VERY long earlier, but later in the evening we only had to wait at the staging area for about 10 minutes.
An underwater scene:
I’ve been wanting to see the holiday lights at Shore Acres for decades, so I’m glad I finally got to see them!
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Today we did a hike in Cape Arago State Park. We started at a locked gate at the day use area and hiked past a “pack trail” sign.
At first we were on a road:
Then we were on a trail:
After about a mile we reached a signless T-junction. We saw a feature on the map to our right called Arago Peak so we decided to see what we could see. We were now on an old road that was brushy in spots:
We reached a big grassy area, stayed to the right, and kept going:
Now we were in an old clearcut:
We topped out in an open area in the clearcut:
From here there was a limited view of the area surrounding Coos Bay:
And some of the mountains to the east:
We could see a bit of ocean to the west:
According to the map Arago Peak was further along the road, so we kept going. From this point the road is in really great shape. It’s timber company land and they drive up from the Seven Devils Road to the east. We spotted this cute rabbit ahead of us:
It turns out there really isn’t much of a peak. We walked past the spot on the map and realized that was it. Not prominence, no marker, no view. So we turned around and went back to the T-junction and continued straight to finish our loop, still following old road:
The trail was in REALLY bad shape in spots. It appeared as though Friday’s downpour had washed away a lot of soil:
We passed this picnic table which hasn’t had a view in a very long time:
We also passed the concrete remains of this old WWII bunker. We were dismayed to see the all the vandalism and graffiti here:
We continued following the old road down to the Cape Arago Highway which we crossed. The trail took us through the trees and then to some ocean views:
We reached the roadside Sea Lion Viewpoint / Simpson Reef Viewpoint:
We could see and hear the sea lions on the rocks out there. I was glad I had my binoculars. We even saw sea otters frolicking in the ocean! My camera’s zoom lens wasn’t long enough to get a shot of them, but it was cool:
We crossed the highway for the last bit back to the car, and spotted these cool fungi along the way:
Nice hike! 6 miles, 870′ elevation gain.