Sunday, June 22, 2014

The End! Mile 363 to Mile 386.4: Secret Beach (Sam Boardman State Scenic Corridor) to the California border

Cumulative mileage figures in parentheses refer to mileage in this section only.
Notations such as “(Hike 109)” refer to hikes in my book Day Hiking: Oregon Coast.
Let me know about your OCT journey, especially anything that contradicts or adds to the information in this blog. I will happily share it with other hikers.

For details of the trail south from Secret Beach, see Hikes 109, 111, 112, 114, 115, and 116, approximately 12 miles (but it might be a little longer; I need to recheck those mileage figures). The route is not always clear, due to spur trails, etc., but you won't get lost. A southern trail extension has been added to what I wrote in Day Hiking: Oregon Coast. At Lone Ranch Beach, continue down the beach 0.5 mile, crossing first one creek and then a second at the base of the headland where the beach ends. Here look for a trail up the headland and then east, where it tunnels into the trees. It emerges for a distance, then dives back into forest to wind to the highway (0.7 mile from the beach). Walk the highway shoulder 2.3 miles to Harris Beach State Park (15.5 miles).

To continue to the California border from Harris Beach, follow a paved bike path out of the park for 0.4 mile, then continue on highway shoulder and sidewalk along U.S. 101 for 2.1 miles, crossing the Chetco River Bridge. At the south end of the bridge, turn right onto Lower Harbor Road and follow it 1 mile, to where it rises and turns left; here, make a sharp right onto Oceanview Drive (19 miles).

Follow Oceanview Drive 2.2 miles to the entrance to McVay Rock State Recreation Site, which has toilets (I don't recall if it has potable water). Walk west 0.2 mile to the beach. Ideally get here at low-ish tide, both to get around the rocks on the shore (I did some scrambling) and to wade the Winchuck River, 1.5 miles to the south. I arrived at high tide, so I followed the north shore to a little trail to a parking area near the highway, crossed on the highway bridge, and returned to the beach.
The California state line is about 0.5 mile south of the Winchuck River by road or beach (23.4 miles). Nothing marks it on the beach, but it's just south of Crissey Field State Recreation Site, a "welcome center" that opened in December 2008. It represents the official end of the Oregon Coast Trail—though, oddly, there was absolutely no information about the OCT there when I arrived in July 2009; the volunteers on duty didn’t seem to know much about it.  I didn’t expect a brass band, but after 390.5 miles, a little lapel pin or commemorative fabric patch—even a trail register for successful OCT completers to sign their names—would be nice!

WHERE TO SLEEP: There's no lodging in the vicinity of Pistol River; the first accommodations south of Gold Beach are the cottages at Whaleshead Beach Resort (, which is basically a large RV park (tent campers not allowed). It's not strictly legal, but OCT hikers have pitched tents at Miner Creek Beach and China Beach in Boardman park. Harris Beach Sate Park at the north end of Brookings has a hiker-biker camp, and it's a fairly short walk from the park to the nearest grocery (1 mile?). There's lots of lodging in Brookings (


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mile 341.4 to Mile 363: Gold Beach to Secret Beach (Sam Boardman State Scenic Corridor)

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

Notations such as “(Hike 106)” refer to hikes in my book Day Hiking: Oregon Coast.       

Updated 9/25/14 with new details about the trail south of Crook Point: From the Rogue River’s south jetty, head south on the beach. At 2 miles wade the outlet of Hunter Creek. Continue another 3 miles to the base of Cape Sebastian and look for a trailhead post and trail angling up off the beach 0.3 mile before the beach ends. This trail (north side of Cape Sebastian) is little used, poorly marked when last I hiked it, and hard to follow in places, but it beats the highway shoulder.

Here's my best shot at trail directions to the top of Cape Sebastian (in general, if you bear right at trail junctions you will stay on the trail and stay off US 101).
Start up the trail and, after 1 mile, turn right at what should be a signed trail junction, then go right again immediately. The trail descends for 0.7 mile, then ascends about 0.2 mile to an unmarked junction. Go right (down). The trail levels out, passing two OCT posts in a row; through this section basically stay on the main double-track trail/old road. It may be extremely overgrown (a crew came through and wacked back the salal two days after I hacked my way through in mid-July). At 3.2 miles (from the beach), the trail emerges into a grassy viewpoint (nice bivouac spot if you have water?); re-enter the forest by the trail post and go up a very, very steep, narrow trail through a lovely, airy forest for 0.8 mile to the north parking lot at the top of the cape (9.3 miles). From here it's easy; follow the park road north 0.5 mile to the south parking area. From here, follow the asphalt trail west, then pick up the forest path leading down the south side 2.5 miles to the beach (Hike 106); watch for poison oak toward the end of the trail (12.3 miles).

Continue down the beach 4.6 miles, wading the Pistol River, all the way to the beach's end at Crook Point. Here, scramble across the driftwood pile marking the end of Sand Creek, below an OCT post in the dunes. Follow it up and across the dunes. Beach grass overhangs the trail through here, obscuring the route; just follow your feet and occasional white-topped trail posts painted with black Us, or horseshoes (the trail is also used by horseback riders). At 0.4 enter an open bowl of sand; cross it and rejoin the trail at the wooden “Coast Trail” sign. From here the trail climbs and contours around hillside ravines, in and out of cool spruce forest and open piney dunes, mostly on soft sand. At 0.75 you’ll reach a junction with Lola Lake Loop; continue straight to reach the trail’s end at US 101 in 0.25 mile, a total of 1 mile from the beach (or detour around the Lola Lake Look for a view of what is, in summer, a grassy depression and adding about 0.4 mile to your walk).  
Now it’s back to the highway shoulder southbound for 2.1 miles until the OCT resumes at Sam Boardman State Scenic Corridor (details below). The OCT winds a total of about 20 scenic miles on trail and beach between the highway and this dramatic coastline along a 12-mile (highway miles) corridor. It's extremely scenic, but be aware that it is constantly going up or down (so not an easy 20 miles). There is NO potable water available along the trail, and the only (vault) toilets are at Arch Rock Point Picnic Area, Whaleshead Day Use Area, and Lone Ranch Beach at the very end. No camping is allowed in the park or on the beach (though some hikers seem to have managed an unobtrusive bivouac).

To find the north end of the OCT through Boardman, look for a blue OCT-signed trail post a few steps north of highway milepost 343. Trail drops down and up and returns to highway in about 0.4 miles at a highway sign for Arch Rock Butte. It resumes and drops down the hillside toward the beach (you'll see Whiskey Creek in a concrete flume on your right); the trail is very steep and slumping downhill in places. It crosses a couple of creeks on footbridges before heading back uphill to another trail post just downhill from another highway turnout just south of the Sam Boardman Corridor entrance sign. Stay on the trail heading south, just below the highway, until it leads to the parking area at Arch Rock Point picnic area (about 2.2 mile from resumption of OCT in the park). Follow the OCT trail 0.3 mile to the Spruce Island Viewpoint trailhead (Hike 108), then another 0.75 to where it meets the trail from the highway down to Secret Beach (Hike 109). Secret Beach is a lovely spot (it looks as though through-hikers sometimes bivouac just above the beach here. At any rate, it's a good place to end this penultimate OCT post (21.6).

Mile 316.8 to Mile 341.4: Humbug Mountain State Park to Gold Beach

Hiking season is upon us! I would love to hear about your experience on the OCT this summer, especially if you have updates or corrections to share. Please post comments about your experience on the trail or with this blog, or use the contact tab above to send me an e-mail (even a photo; it could go into the next edition of my Oregon Coast hiking book, with your permission).

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

Notations such as “(Hike 103)” refer to hikes in my book Day Hiking: Oregon Coast.       

The summit of Humbug Mountain is a great day hike (Hike 103), but you may be ready to keep moving south. Pick up the OCT off the campground entrance road near the registration booth. You have 1.2 miles of trail walking (Hike 102) to where it ducks under US 101 and ends at state park picnic area. (When I hiked it in 2009 this trails stretch was closed due to landslide; I don’t know if that was a temporary or permanent closure. If it is closed, just hike the highway shoulder to the picnic area.) Keep your eyes open for poison oak; this is the first time I saw it trailside on the OCT, and there is more as you go south (but not horribly more).

From here, follow the (wide) highway shoulder for about 5 miles until it drops down and passes Arizona Beach State Recreation Site. If the tide is low (I've heard varying reports about how low it needs to be), get off the highway here and onto the beach, first wading Mussel Creek. Walk south on Arizona Beach, around rocky Pigeon Point (may have to scramble on rocks here) to the stunningly beautiful beach at the base of Sisters Rock. 

 You'll see what looks like the remains of quarrying operations; scramble up to the rocky jeep road leading up the rock's neck. At a flat area, bear southeast onto a footpath (the jeep road veers southwest a short distance to U.S. 101) and follow it a short distance to U.S. 101 (at an unsigned wide gravel turnout 0.7 mile south of highway milepost 314)—a total of about 2 miles from Arizona Beach (8.2 miles). Continue along the highway another 3 miles (crossing Euchre Creek at 2.5 miles). Once you pass the last of the roadside fencing, look for a little path leading off the highway 0.2 mile through the dunes to the beach. After 3.9 mile, leave the beach at the north end of Nesika Beach and follow Nesika Beach Road south 0.5 mile from the beach to where the OCT resumes on the right (15.8 miles). It leads 0.3 mile to Geisel Monument and back out to the road.
Follow it 0.2 mile, cross, and pick up the mostly gravel Old Coast Highway (a more pleasant but slightly longer alternative to US 101) for 2 miles, through forest logged not many years ago, to its junction with US 101. Follow the highway 0.2 mile, turn right onto Otter Point Road and walk 0.2 mile to an OCT trailhead. Head down the trail, take an immediate left at the fork, and continue 0.75 mile down to the beach (19.1 miles).

Continue south on the beach 3 miles to the north jetty at the Rogue River. Walk out to the road and follow Wedderburn Loop 1 mile to the Rogue River bridge, cross it, then take the first right (Harbor Way) and right again on South Jetty Road; follow it out past an RV park to get back to the beach (24.6 miles).

DETAILS: South of the hiker-biker camp at Humbug Mountain State Park, the next hiker-biker camp is at Harris Beach State Park, though there are some RV parks in Gold Beach where you might be able to pitch a tent in a pinch. There is plenty of lodging in Gold Beach, including a Motel 6 right at the end of the Rogue River Bridge (but not in Nesika Beach, as far as I know). You can buy groceries in Nesika Beach and Gold Beach.  If you do go into town in Gold Beach (such as to get camping fuel, as I did, or to treat yourself with a browse and a coffee at Gold Beach Books and Biscuit Coffeehouse), you can get back on the beach by continuing south on U.S. 101 to 5th Place and following it out to the beach. (Try walking west north of Fifth Place and you’ll be stopped by the airport.)