If you are new to the central Oregon coast, repeat after me:
Happily there is very little road walking on this stretch; you’ll mostly be on the beach. And no boat-hailing drama: you’ll wade one good-sized creek and cross a big river on a big bridge.
From the south jetty at the mouth of Yaquina Bay, walk the beach south 6.2 miles to the mouth of wadeable Beaver Creek. Someday this will be a great place to stop for the night. What used to be called Ona Beach State Park (a day use area and beach access) has been joined with nearby Beaver Creek State Natural Area and additional acreage to create Brian Booth State Park, where a new campground is being planned (but won’t be completed sooner than 2016—could be 2018 or even later). Continue south on the beach another 1.7 miles. Approaching a basalt cliff near Seal Rock State Wayside (note the rocks offshore), look for the little trail climbing up a ravine to the highway.
Follow the highway shoulder south 1.1 miles to Quail Street and follow it west back to the beach (9.1 miles). After about 3 miles of beach walking, approaching the end of the spit at the mouth of Alsea Bay, look for footsteps leading off the beach at any of several beach access trails squeezed between houses here. Follow neighborhood roads south and east to Bayshore Drive, and follow it north and uphill about 0.8 mile to U.S. 101 near the north end of the Alsea Bay Bridge. Cross the bridge; the town of Waldport (and an interpretive center with water/toilets) lies at the south end of the bridge. Follow the highway or side roads south, returning to the beach at the end of town.
Now you’ve got an uninterrupted six-plus miles of beach walking ahead, but consider stopping for the night at Beachside State Park, 2.6 miles south of Waldport (17.1 miles); look carefully for tents or RVs among the trees and footsteps leading off the beach. It’s squeezed into a narrow corridor between highway and shoreline and isn’t the most special of state parks, but it’s a legal place to sleep.
Or continue south 3.9 miles until the beach ends at a headland topped with houses. Look for a trail running up the sandstone slope; it becomes Yachats 804 Trail (Hike 49). Follow it 0.8 mile to Smelt Sands State Recreation Area. The 804 Trail continues south across a grassy field, through a neighborhood and along Ocean View Drive 1.1 miles to reconnect with U.S. 101 at the south end of the town of Yachats (22.9 miles).
There is lodging in Waldport and in Yachats, including several motels right off the Yachats 804 Trail. The next campground is just a few miles south of Yachats; see next blog post.