Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mile 269 to Mile 279: Seven Devils to Bandon

Cumulative mileage figures in parentheses refer to mileage in this section only.

This post gets you to Bandon—a fairly short OCT stretch. I took a layover day here, and it’s a good place to regroup and resupply, as the distances between towns are farther here on Oregon’s South Coast. Plus Bandon is a nice town and easily within walking distance of the hiker-biker camp at Bullards Beach State Park.

From Seven Devils State Recreation Site, head south on the beach 1 mile to Fivemile Point, which must be rounded at low tide or possibly mid-tide, depending on tide height. (There is a roughly 2-mile OCT trail section over Fivemile Point, but it’s not particularly scenic—a no-man’s-land of prickly gorse shrubbery with no ocean views—and I’m told the trailhead is hard to locate. If you are stuck by the tide, look for a trailhead about 0.25 mile south of Twomile Creek, or about 0.25 north of Fivemile Point; the trail winds east and south, hits Whiskey Run Road, and leads back west to the beach at Whiskey Run creek.)

Backpackers rounding Fivemile Point

From Fivemile Point, continue south on the beach 5 miles (or less; see below) to the day use area at Bullards Beach State Park; look for people and footsteps heading off the beach to the day use parking area. If you are continuing on, follow park roads east 1.4 miles out to US 101 (7.4 miles). If you plan to camp at the hiker-biker camp here, back up; there’s a shortcut off the beach that will save you more than a mile of walking. Rather than hiking all the way down the beach to the day use area, watch for a “No Motor Vehicles Allowed” sign on the beach about 4.5 miles south of Fivemile Point and continue another 0.25 mile to where footsteps lead up the dune and off the beach; they lead to a 0.75-mile sand trail that leads to Campground Loop B. Turn left to walk to the end of the loop, then left again on the main campground road to find the hiker-biker camp in the middle of Loop C.

Looking south from Fivemile Point toward Bandon
It would be nice to walk down the beach to Bandon, but you can’t wade the Coquille River, and there’s no practical way to arrange a boat across it. You could try your luck at the end of the spit or at the boat ramp in the park; otherwise, you’ll need to cross on the highway bridge. Hence, continuing south from the park entrance on US 101, head south along the highway shoulder, crossing the Coquille River bridge with care (no sidewalk). Just 0.4 mile past the bridge, bear right onto Riverside Drive NW and follow it south 1.6 miles to First Street. Turn right onto First and follow it a couple of blocks into Bandon's Old Town (10 miles). There is a wide variety of lodging in Bandon and plenty of restaurants. For groceries, follow the highway 0.5 mile west from Old Town to Mother's Natural Grocery and, a short distance north, Ray's Food Place. Or follow the highway south from Old Town for more stores (food, hardware, etc.). That’s the direction you need to go anyway to return to the beach at Coquille Point.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mile 253.5 to Mile 269: From Charleston, over Cape Arago, to Seven Devils State Recreation Site

Notations such as “(Hike 89)” refer to hikes in my book Day Hiking: Oregon Coast.

Cumulative mileage figures in parentheses refer to mileage in this section only.

Heading south from Charleston, you have three options:

ONE. The most expedient route: Head south on Seven Devils Road and follow it 11.5 miles to return to the beach at Seven Devils State Recreation Site. At about the midpoint of this walk, the paved road you are on becomes Beaver Hill Road; at that point, veer right to continue on Seven Devils Road (now a gravel road). There are no services whatsoever on this road, but the shoulder is wide, there is little traffic, and there is some lovely forest along the road (along streams, where it hasn't been recently logged).

TWO. Officially, the OCT leads hikers 3-ish miles out to Cape Arago and Sunset Bay State Park, a beautiful section of coast (see route description below) … and then back to Charleston and down the road to Seven Devils State Recreation Site to return to the beach. The problem is that there is no official, strictly legal route over Cape Arago and back down to the beach. Sunset Bay and this section of coastline is well worth a detour, however, unless you’re in a hurry.

THREE. Unofficially, some hikers have found their way from Sunset Bay State Park south over Cape Arago and back to the beach following an old trail and logging roads down to Seven Devils Road. This route goes through private timber land. Although I didn’t see any "No Trespassing" signs posted in 2009, this route is on private land, not public land. Keep that in mind as should you choose to cut over this way; certainly don’t camp or build a fire along the way.

Here are the directions for Option Three:

Bastendorff Beach; Yoakam Point in background
From the marina at Charleston, the simplest route is to follow Cape Arago Highway 3 miles to Sunset Bay State Park. For a slightly longer and much more scenic route, find your way from the marina to Boat Basin Road and follow it a short distance to the gray shingled buildings of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. In the middle of that tiny campus, turn left up gravel Coos Head Road and follow it 0.7 mile (bearing left at one junction). When it meets a paved road, turn right and follow it 0.4 mile, bear left, and continue 0.3 mile more a parking area with vault toilets at Bastendorff Beach.

End of Bastendorff Bog Trail at Sunset Bay hiker-biker camp
Follow the beach south 1 mile, wading a small creek. Where the beach ends at a rocky point (just north of larger Yoakam Point) you will see trails leading to an RV park; don't take these but, rather, look for a couple of wooden steps leading a rough trail that heads steeply up the hillside to the south. (Thanks to Connie Soper for scouting this trail last week and sharing what she found!) Keep bearing left up this approximately 0.25-mile trail and you'll end up at a turn-out along Cape Arago Highway; cross the highway and walk a short distance (or up to 0.2 mile, depending on which informal trail spit you out on the road) to where a footpath resumes across the road. This is the new Bastendorff Bog Trail (currently unsigned, but signs may be posted by the end of 2014). The 1.25-mile trail begins as a level path for about 0.3 mile, starts to ascend, tops out at about 0.6 mile, then descends, ending with a steep drop down stairs to end at a footbridge leading into the hiker-biker camp in Sunset Bay State Park (4.2 miles).

Should you decide to cut across the mountains at this point rather than return to Charleston and follow the road, here are rough directions. From the entrance to Sunset Bay State Park, walk south on Cape Arago Highway about 1.25 mile to the start of the Pack Trail (Hike 89), on the left. Follow it 1 mile to where it crests and turns sharply west; instead, continue straight (south). The trail is not maintained and may be overgrown and have fallen logs that you need to negotiate. The trail tops out and then descends to a landing. One road veers to the right, but the main (gravel) road continues straight. From here you will encounter many road junctions, but the route of the main road is pretty clear. The road roller-coasters through recently cut and replanted forest before finally descending to a gate; go around it. Continue to a junction with a road and powerline; turn left. You will meet the main road (and second gate) in about 10 minutes (total distance from Cape Arago Highway to this point is about 5 miles).

At this junction, paved Seven Devils Road meets paved Beaver Hill Road; instead, veer right onto the continuation of now-gravel Seven Devils Road. It's good walking (just lots of ascending and descending) along this road about 5 miles more to the short entrance road to Seven Devils State Recreation Area, which has toilets and potable water (15.5 miles). An OCT hiker recently suggested that you could shorten the road walking by turning west down a street called Pacific Surf, about a mile past the junction with Seven Devils and Beaver Hill roads, and follow it about another mile down to Sacchi Beach, then south on the beach about 0.5 mile to the next headland, where a trail leads over the headland and back to Seven Devils Road. I have not confirmed this route.

You may want to continue a few more miles to the hiker-biker camp at Bullard Beach State Park to spend the night—but I’ll get to that in the next blog post.