The official OCT route from Neskowin to Lincoln City is, shall we say, troubled. I keep hearing that discussions are under way or plans are being made to improve the route over Cascade Head and, thence, over the Salmon River and back to the beach at Lincoln City. Right now the official route involves many miles (8 or 10, depending) of walking on the highway shoulder. I keep hoping someone (USFS) gets it together to actually do what needs to be done to reduce the highway walking here to a minimal 1 mile stretch needed to cross the Salmon River estuary:
1) Negotiate an easement with the private neighborhood at the south end of Neskowin allowing legal foot traffic up to the top of South Beach Drive.
2) Brush out the existing rough trail from there through Siuslaw National Forest land that hooks up to the Hart's Cove trail (see Day Hiking: Oregon Coast for details of how you would walk that trail to Road 1861 and options from there to the intersection of US 101 and Three Rocks Road.
3) Let go of the moratorium on walking Road 1861 from July 15 to Jan. 1. C'mon, the peregrine falcon that nests on the cliffs here was delisted in 1999.
4) From the south side of the Salmon River bridge, either negotiate with Westwind Stewardship Group to allow hikers to walk their road and to cut a short connector trail around Camp Westwind OR build a connector trail through Siuslaw National Forest land. In either case, that connector trail would hook up with existing trails to take you to Road's End State Recreation Site, where you can return to the beach.
This should be easy, but apparently it isn't. Maybe because of the protectiveness of the agencies managing Cascade Head Scenic Research Area? I get that. But people, we're talking about 1) a major trail (the OCT) that the Oregon Legislative has decided is a priority and needs to effectively be completed, and 2) accommodating thru-hikers, who are the user group that arguably has the LEAST impact on the forest.
My book makes suggestions for how to, unofficially, get over Cascade Head to get the best views, the least highway walking, and the best overall experience. But then you still have 4.1 miles of highway shoulder walking to return to the beach. Here is a way to cut out more than half of that. I don't know why I didn't figure this out sooner: most of the route appears in a map in my book. But that land (and those trails) had just come into public ownership when I was wrapping up the new edition of the book and things were sort of unclear. Also I didn’t understand what the road access would be off US 101. Now I get it.
There is almost no signage on this route, but the trails are all on public land managed by either City of Lincoln City or Siuslaw National Forest, and it's not confusing. This route is 0.5 miles longer than just hiking the highway shoulder.
|Looking back from the start of the trail (driveway?) at top of N. Clancy Road|
The only sketchy part of this route is the 15-20 footsteps you take at the top of N. Clancy Road on what appears to be a driveway. My maps indicate that this is all on Siuslaw National Forest Land. It’s possible that the very start of this trail is actually on a private driveway, however (hence the “No Trespassing” sign you will see on the gate you must go through). I have tried to clarify this issue with the appropriate land managers but have not had a response. Yet. In any case, literally not more than 20 yards are sketchy ownership-wise. Go forth, hiker.
|Where driveway curves left, you go right on a trail (an old road).|