|Camping at the mouth of Tenmile Creek, in the Oregon Dunes, after a stormy night.|
The basic rule of thumb for overnighting on the OCT is as follows: stay at state park hiker-biker camps or Forest Service or county campgrounds whenever possible. Not only is it more comfortable, but it puts your human waste in a toilet, which is a major benefit to everyone else vacationing on the Oregon Coast. There are about 19 of these right on the coast, depending on how you count them (I don’t count campsites in the dunes designed for ATV riders, for instance). Otherwise, wing it. On a month-long hike (12 miles a day average), if these developed campsites were evenly distributed along the coast, you would need to wing it about 1/3 of the time—less often if you hike longer days. But they aren't equally distributed; sometimes you'll find two in one day's hike, and on the southernmost coast it's 65 miles between the hiker-bikers camps at Humbug Mountain and Harris Beach state park.
Which brings us to winging it. This can mean:
- Camp on the beach or dunes, legally (outside of city and state park limits)
- Camp on the beach or dunes, illegally (some places no one cares; other places they do)
- Bivouac in a state park, illegally (in some sites, if you’re discreet and leave no trace, no one will care. I'm not tell you to break the law—I’m just staying that people do)
- Stay in a hostel (Seaside, for instance) or private campground (as in Pacific City)
- Stay in a motel (I was able to get a room at a cheap motel twice, in summer, with no reservation)
That’s the basic idea. In my next post I will get specific about where I personally overnighted (23 nights) on the Oregon Coast Trail along with other options in each vicinity.