Monday, May 5, 2014

Mile 296 to Mile 316.8: Floras Lake to Humbug Mountain State Park

Notations such as “(Hike 97)” refer to hikes in my book Day Hiking: Oregon Coast.

Cumulative mileage figures in parentheses refer to mileage in this section only.
The route from Floras Lake onto Blacklock Point can be a bit confusing. Re-scouting this stretch is on my summer 2014 list of things to do. Until then, these directions ought to get you where you’re going, with or without a little backtracking.

Whether you’re on the beach continuing south or you’ve detoured to Boice Cope County Park, get on the trail from the beach to the park, then veer north onto a trail that heads through the dunes around the west side of Floras Lake. Follow it for 1 mile, following little trail stakes, to where the trail starts to rise onto the bluff. You'll quickly reach a trail junction marked by large boulders. I believe if you bear right here, then left, you will be on the official OCT route that passes a beach spur, drops into a creek valley, and then follows the cliffs to meet the Blacklock Point Trail in 3 miles (bear right at all junctions. However, this trail is prone to chronic erosion and may or may not be open. Instead, I suggest going straight, which should put you onto the Airport-Floras Lake Trail—a lot less scenic, but a reliable through-route (Hike 97).

Boardwalks keep feet dry
on many trails
at Blacklock Point.
Follow that trail 2.25 miles through the woods to the end of the huge Cape Blanco State Airport runway (3.5 miles), built during WWII and now used by the occasional private pilot and, I'm told, July 4 weekend car races. Cross the end of the runway and pick up Blacklock Point Trail heading west. Continue for 1 mile, bearing left at all (four) junctions, to reach the beach on the south side of Blacklock Point. (At the third of those junctions there is a well-established informal campsite under the trees at the end of Blacklock Point.) Follow the beach south (in 2009 I had to clamber over a huge log pile first) about 1.25 mile to the Sixes River (5.75). 

More than one account I read said the Sixes River is nothing but a dry sandbar in late summer/fall. Not so when I crossed in mid-July; it wasn't difficult, but I couldn't have crossed at high tide. Definitely aim for low tide. If you get there and water is too high to safely cross, you could (1) backtrack to Blacklock Point and follow the trail inland to Cape Blanco State Airport, then follow airport road out to the highway and go south, or (2) follow the river's north bank 1 mile, pick up a farm road leading east 2 miles, then walk south on a road along Summers Creek to U.S. 101; follow it to the first road leading west, toward the Cape.

Crossing the Sixes River
From the river's mouth, it's about 1.5 miles to Cape Blanco; walk the beach almost to the end and look for a marked 0.25-mile trail leading up to the road at the top of the cape. The OCT resumes across the road as a mowed path that turns into a forest trail leading about 0.5 mile to the state park campground (with hiker-biker camp). Continue south on the beach access road another 0.5 mile to reach the beach on the south side of the cape (8.5 miles).

In 1.3 miles you will reach Elk River, easy to cross at low tide. Continue another 3.3 miles, passing a steep bluff along the beach, to where a sand path leads up to a parking area at Paradise Point State Recreation Site. (If you need groceries, leave the beach here and follow Paradise Point Road about 1 mile east to US 101, and start walking south; you should hit a grocery store on the right at the outskirts of Port Orford.) Otherwise, continue down the beach another mile nearly to the base of rocky Port Orford Heads and go east where footsteps lead off the beach just north of a low dune (14.1). A trail leads a short distance to the parking area at Tseriadun State Recreation Site; locals apparently call it Agate Beach. (In 2009 there was a portable toilet but no water.) Follow Agate Beach Road east out of the park (becomes Ninth Street) 0.75 mile to U.S. 101, just north of the center of Port Orford. Follow the highway south 0.5 mile and return to beach at the Battle Rock wayside, which has restrooms with flush toilets/water (15.4 miles).
On the way to Paradise Point

There is lodging in Port Orford, but it’s likely you’ll want to get to the next hiker-biker camp, at Humbug Mountain State Park, 5.4 miles farther, perhaps after filling up at a the Crazy Norwegian or the pizzeria on the highway or another restaurant at Port Orford. From Battle Rock, walk south on the beach—how far depends upon your evaluation of the tide:  

If the tide is quite low, you could follow the beach 2.25 miles to Rocky Point, distinguished by the boulders at its base. Scramble around the point, continue down the beach another 0.25 mile, and watch for a path heading up the brushy hillside that leads to gravel road up to U.S. 101. Follow the highway shoulder another 0.2 mile.

If the tide is high enough to rule out a scramble around Rocky Point, walk south just 0.9 mile from Battle Rock and look for a path leading off the beach and up to U.S. 101. From here, follow the highway shoulder south 1.8 miles (18.2 miles).

In either case, turn east off the highway on a road just past the sign for Humbug Mountain State Park and follow it as it curves right for 0.1 mile, then bear right and walk past the gate at the OCT trailhead sign (Hike 102). Here the OCT follows the old coast highway route a total of 2.6 miles to Humbug Mountain State Park. The trail rises for the first mile, then descends another 0.8 mile to a 0.4-mile, steep spur trail into the campground; instead, continue another 0.8 mile on an old asphalt roadbed to the end of the trail, near the park entrance and the hiker-biker campground (20.8). The hiker-biker campground here is serviceable but a little odd; it is arrayed on a hillside near the park entrance (not the usual more communal arrangement).