Oregon Dunes Misadventure

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:

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Visitor Center

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.

Tahkenitch Creek:

Tahkenitch Creek

Tahkenitch Creek

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:

Thick brush

Thick brush

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:

Umpqua Discovery Center

We found a friendly furry greeter named Buckaroo:

Buckaroo

Why yes, I’d be happy to stretch out and let you pet my tummy:

Buckaroo

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:

Umpqua Discovery Center

Umpqua Discovery Center

Afterward we went up to the viewing platform on top of the museum for a nice view of the Umpqua River:

Umpqua River

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:

Boat ramp

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:

Umpqua River

Umpqua River

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.

Wild turkeys!

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.

Cape Sebastian

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!

New River Nature Center

New River Nature Center

Do you see the resemblance?

New River Nature Center

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:

New River

New River

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:

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

As the name of this trail implies, there are some huge Douglas Fir and Port Orford Cedar in here:

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

This is a scar from a very very old trail blaze:

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail

Our next stop was the nearby Myrtle Tree Trail:

Myrtle Trail

This is the largest myrtlewood tree in the world!

Myrtle Tree

Myrtle Tree

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:

Rogue River

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:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

We hiked the trail south (described here):

Cape Sebastian Hike

Red lichen on the cliffs:

Cape Sebastian Hike

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):

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

We continued to descend down, down, down:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

The rock here is pockmarked, which is known as tafoni:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

The trail continued on to Hunters Cove (named for the 19th century hunters who killed sea otters for their pelts):

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

Now we can see the beach at Hunter’s Cove:

Cape Sebastian Hike

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:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Hunter’s Cove is big and lonely. We walked a short distance on the beach, which was completely deserted:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cool tilted rocks in the sand:

Cape Sebastian Hike

The high tide line goes right up to the base of the cliff, so it’s good we didn’t visit during high tide!

Cape Sebastian Hike

Hunter’s Island looked like a hippo:

Cape Sebastian Hike

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:

Cape Sebastian Hike

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:

Cape Sebastian Hike

As we reached the top of the headland and the parking area the clouds FINALLY started burning off and revealing views to the north:

Cape Sebastian Hike

We could see north to Gold Beach, and the distant silhouette of Humbug Mountain:

Cape Sebastian Hike

Cape Blanco and Port Orford Heads

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.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

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.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

We walked back to our car admiring all the seastacks to the north of Cape Blanco:

Cape Blanco State Park

We decided to walk the South Cape Trail that heads towards the campground.

Cape Blanco State Park

The clouds were starting to burn off:

Cape Blanco State Park

Cape Blanco State Park

And then poof, the sky was blue!

Cape Blanco State Park

There’s Humbug Mountain again. You can see that thing for miles around here:

Cape Blanco State Park

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:

Cape Blanco State Park

Cape Blanco State Park

We headed into the campground to use the bathroom and spotted this rabbit. Cute!

Cape Blanco State Park

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):

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

A sunny shot of the lighthouse, which was now open for tours:

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

After taking a spin through the visitor center we drove towards the Hughes House, first stopping at this pioneer cemetery:

Cape Blanco Cemetery

Cape Blanco Cemetery

Cape Blanco 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.

Hughes House

The house was staffed by two volunteers and open for visitors, so we took a look around:

Hughes House

Hughes House

Hughes House

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:

Oregon Coast Trail

We passed through a gate with a sign for the Castle Beach Trail:

Oregon Coast Trail

Oregon Coast Trail

The windswept beach was littered with a whole bunch of driftwood. It felt like a lonely and seldom-visited place, but very beautiful:

Cape Blanco State Park

We had a view of Cape Sebastian and the lighthouse:

Cape Blanco State Park

To the north was Castle Rock and the mouth of the Sixes River:

Sixes River

There were lots of birds out on Gull Rock:

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:

IMG_6424

Hiking back to the car we could see the mountains to the east:

Oregon Coast Trail

The trail passes through some pasture areas and we saw sheep who wanted nothing to do with us:

Oregon Coast Trail

Back at the boat ramp we checked out the Sixes River:

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):

Port Orford Heads

They have a self-righting lifeboat on display outside:

Port Orford Heads

After that we set out on the trail to do a short loop hike around the heads (hike described here):

Port Orford Heads

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:

Port Orford Heads

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.

Port Orford Heads

We tore ourselves away and continued on our loop. We got yet another view of Humbug Mountain:

Port Orford Heads

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:

Port Orford Heads

View to the west:

Port Orford Heads

We saw a whole bunch of iris on this little hike:

Port Orford Heads

And some larkspur:

Port Orford Heads

We hiked the Headland Trail out to this point where it was VERY windy. That’s Cape Blanco in the distance:

Port Orford Heads

Port Orford Heads

Hiking back on the Headland Trail:

Port Orford Heads

What a beautiful day! Back at camp that evening we had a nice campfire with the seasoned wood we got in town:

Campfire

Sisters Rocks and Humbug Mountain

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:

KOA cabin

KOA cabin

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.

Battle Rock Wayside

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:

Battle Rock Wayside

It was a gorgeous day:

Battle Rock Wayside

We could see Humbug Mountain in the distance. Those rocks in the ocean are part of the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve.:

Battle Rock Wayside

There is a nice viewing area here at Battle Rock:

Battle Rock Wayside

And a visitor’s center (which wasn’t open):

Battle Rock Wayside

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:

Sisters Rocks State Park

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 State Park

Sisters Rocks was also the site of a rock quarry in the 50s and 60s. Now the road is gated:

Sisters Rocks State Park

View of Sisters Rocks:

Sisters Rocks State Park

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:

Sisters Rocks State Park

Looking north to Humbug Mountain:

Sisters Rocks State Park

The old road took us down to the base of the rocks and we went over to look into the sea cave:

Sisters Rocks State Park

Sisters Rocks State Park

We went around to the side of the rock to look into the cave entrance on the side:

Sisters Rocks State Park

We walked north a little bit along the beach. The water was so blue! The sky was so blue! Here’s Humbug Mountain again:

Sisters Rocks State Park

We followed raccoon tracks on the beach for a little ways:

Raccoon tracks

Looking back at the rocks:

Sisters Rocks State Park

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:

Humbug Mountain Hike

When we reached the junction we went right on the West Trail:

Humbug Mountain Hike

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:

Humbug Mountain Hike

And Highway 101 winding its way toward Port Orford:

Humbug Mountain Hike

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:

Humbug Mountain Hike

Humbug Mountain Hike

Also, the crews crafted some nice wooden benches from the trees they cut:

Humbug Mountain Hike

Humbug Mountain Hike

Funny:

Humbug Mountain Hike

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:

Humbug Mountain Hike

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:

Humbug Mountain Hike

We saw a few trillium:

Humbug Mountain Hike

Back in Port Orford we followed signs to the Wetland Interpretive Walkway, which was a little boardwalk in a wetland right in town:

Port Orford

Port Orford

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:

Paradise Point State Recreation Site

To the north we could see Cape Blanco, which we would be visiting tomorrow:

Paradise Point State Recreation Site

To the south we could see Port Orford Heads:

Paradise Point State Recreation Site

We walked on the beach for a short distance, but it was just too crazy windy to be out there long:

Paradise Point

God’s Thumb

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:

God's Thumb Hike

Then started walking up Sal-La-Sea Drive (where a red-winged blackbird greeted me):

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

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.

God's Thumb Hike

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 Knoll map

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:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God's Thumb Hike

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.

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

I was now making a big unnecessary loop over and around:

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God's Thumb Hike

And I could now FINALLY see the ocean:

God's Thumb Hike

Just a little further on I got my first view of God’s Thumb:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

I hiked down to a saddle below it:

God's Thumb Hike

Then scrambled up to the top where I had a great view north to Cascade Head:

God's Thumb Hike

And a great view south:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God's Thumb Hike

Many parts of this section of the trail were horrifically muddy:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God's Thumb Hike

And then I walked the rest of the way back on the beach:

God's Thumb Hike

Before getting off the beach at Road’s End I turned back and saw God’s Thumb poking up to the north:

God's Thumb Hike

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:

God'sThumbTrack

Cape Perpetua

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!

Cape Perpetua Visitor's Center

From the visitor’s center we did the short hike upstream along Cape Creek to see a giant Sitka Spruce.

Hiking to the giant spruce

Hiking to the giant spruce

Hiking to the giant spruce

Hiking to the giant spruce

Hiking to the giant 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.

Giant Spruce

Giant Spruce

Giant Spruce

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:

Foundation from old CCC camp

We stopped at the viewpoint for the spouting horn, but since it wasn’t high tide we didn’t see any spouting going on:

Cape Perpetua

View of highway bridge over Cook’s Chasm:

Cape Perpetua

We followed the path north:

Cape Perpetua

There was a lot of sea foam:

Sea foam

Tidepools

We continued north to Cape Creek Cove, which we could see from above before descending steps down to it:

Cape Creek Cove

Descending to the beach

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.

Cape Creek

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:

Coast cabin

Coast cabin

We ate dinner that night at the Drift Inn Cafe, which had some cool decor.

Drift Inn Cafe

On Monday we went back to Cape Perpetua to see the spouting horn at high tide:

Spouting horn

Spouting horn

We also saw Thor’s Well:

Thor's Well

Then we hiked the St. Perpetua Trail:

Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua

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:

West Shelter

West Shelter

The view was lovely:

View from West Shelter

Looking south:

View from West Shelter

Before heading home we also visited Yachats State Park:

Yachats State Park

Yachats State Park

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:

Reading nook

We also attended the Yachats Agate Festival where I picked up this pretty agate pendant:

IMG_4715

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:

Agate windows

Agate windows

Of course they had a piano and Greg asked if he could play it for a bit:

IMG_4713

Great weekend at the coast! Yachats is pretty great.

Hiking Shore Acres

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:

Welcome to Elkton

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:

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

We checked into our yurt at Sunset Bay State Park, then backtracked 20 minutes into town for dinner.

Shore Acres State Park

The next day we did a hike that started at the Sunset Bay day use area:

Sunset Bay State Park

Before long we reached a nice viewpoint:

Sunset Bay State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Sunset Bay State Park

Sunset Bay State Park

Sunset Bay:

Sunset Bay State Park

Hiking on we continued to see cool rock formations and great views:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

We also had views of the Cape Arago Lighthouse:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Looking back along our route:

Shore Acres State Park

Erosion is constant at the coast. We saw this broken fence dangling along the cliff edge:

Shore Acres State Park

Loved the clash of water and rock:

Shore Acres State Park

Saw several cool mushrooms:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

As we approached the main part of Shore Acres State Park we crossed the old tennis courts:

Shore Acres State Park

Cool cannonball rocks:

Shore Acres State Park

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:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Looking north from the Observatory. Starting to get colder and cloudier:

Shore Acres State Park

Looking south:

Shore Acres State Park

The botanical garden from the Simpson days is still here. We would return in a few hours to see the holiday light show here:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

We made a loop by walking back on the old Simpson driveway:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

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!

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

There were a lot of them gathered on that rock out there, which we would see from a roadside viewpoint the next day:

Cape Arago State Park

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.

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

An underwater scene:

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

I’ve been wanting to see the holiday lights at Shore Acres for decades, so I’m glad I finally got to see them!

Cape Arago Hike

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.

Cape Arago State Park

At first we were on a road:

Cape Arago State Park

Then we were on a trail:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

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:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We reached a big grassy area, stayed to the right, and kept going:

Cape Arago State Park

Now we were in an old clearcut:

Cape Arago State Park

We topped out in an open area in the clearcut:

Cape Arago State Park

From here there was a limited view of the area surrounding Coos Bay:

Cape Arago State Park

And some of the mountains to the east:

Cape Arago State Park

We could see a bit of ocean to the west:

Cape Arago State Park

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:

Cape Arago State Park

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:

Cape Arago State Park

The trail was in REALLY bad shape in spots. It appeared as though Friday’s downpour had washed away a lot of soil:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We passed this picnic table which hasn’t had a view in a very long time:

Cape Arago State Park

We also passed the concrete remains of this old WWII bunker. We were dismayed to see the all the vandalism and graffiti here:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

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:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We reached the roadside Sea Lion Viewpoint / Simpson Reef Viewpoint:

Cape Arago State Park

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:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We crossed the highway for the last bit back to the car, and spotted these cool fungi along the way:

Cape Arago State Park

Nice hike! 6 miles, 870′ elevation gain.

Cape Arago Map