Friday, March 26, 2021

Forecast for OCT 2021: Mostly fair (and I'm putting this blog to bed)

Cooks Ridge Trail in Cape Perpetua Scenic Area got hit hard by the windstorm but was cleared and is hikeable. Reports indicate that the OCT over Cape Perpetua is in good shape.

You may recall that the Oregon Coast Trail was officially shut down last year, along with every other long-distance trail. The pandemic was raging, and the best course seemed to be to just keep people off the trails and, in the case of the OCT, out of coastal tourist towns, potentially spreading (and picking up) the virus.

Obviously things are much better this year. No one’s asking hikers to stay home (just to keep their mask handy and slap it on when encountering other people). We are being asked to walk lightly on the land; overcrowding has taken a toll on many recreation sites as people stayed safe and played outside. All the coastal state park hiker-biker camps closed last year, but they are slowly reopening; best guess is that many if not all hiker-biker camps will be back open by around Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, remember that windstorm that started on Labor Day 2020? The one that kicked off all those massive forest fires in the Cascades? That same storm also toppled thousands of trees in the forests along the Oregon Coast. Then there was the Valentines Day ice storm. As a result, a few OCT trail sections on the north coast became impassable and were closed to hikers. Some have already been cleared and are back open (such as the Tillamook Head trail from Seaside to the backpackers camp), but at this writing there are still some closures:

  • In Oswald West State Park, the OCT from Arch Cape north to the US 101 highway crossing.
  • Also in Os West, the OCT from US 101 south to Cape Falcon (just one bad spot, where the trail tops out at Round Mountain, but it may be cleared soon).
  • The trail up the north side of Neahkahnie Mountain (Os West too).
  • Every trail at Cape Lookout State Park.

Coincidentally I’ve just published a new website, hikingtheoct.com, with lots of trail updates, and I’ll continue to update it as I get new information. This blog will continue to be accessible at hikingtheoct.blogspot.com, but I won’t be updating it; all my updates will be on my website.

All this is in anticipation of my new, vastly improved, super comprehensive guidebook, Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, to be published by Mountaineers Books in September 2021. It will be way more comprehensive than Day Hiking: Oregon Coast, which was just that: a guide to coastal day hikes, with me squeezing in tidbits for thru-hikers where I could. It was never quite adequate, it had a few mistakes (sorry!) and now it’s dated in places. But used in conjunction with my website, it will do for 2021.

Meanwhile my dream has always been to write a guidebook focused solely on the OCT. Now I have. And you can pre-order it now!

Thanks for following my blog, and please stay in touch. I'd love to get your OCT updates and share them with other hikers. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

'Closed'? Maybe, but still hikeable in sections

So you know the OCT was officially closed to thru-hikers this year, right? To the extent that Oregon State Parks can close it: the agency closed several state parks (not even toilets and water were available) and closed all 10 (if my count is right) state park hiker-biker camps along the OCT, from Fort Stevens to Harris Beach, which made it difficult to attempt a thru-hike or even a section hike in some cases.

 Difficult, but not impossible.

I have heard from several hikers who managed to hike part or all of the OCT this season.


Cheryl Lund had already hiked the OCT from the Columbia River to Siletz Bay as a four-year participant in CoastWalk Oregon; she decided to celebrate her 60th birthday in August by getting a motel room in Yachats and using public transportation to shuttle to trailheads to the north and south, hiking 60 more miles of the OCT and putting her nearly at the halfway point toward finishing the entire trail.


In July Heather Fischer and a companion hiked the stretch from Paradise Point (north of Port Orford) to Face Rock south of Bandon. "The wind was annoying at points, but the timing of tides was worth going northbound," she wrote. "We had a great hike, saw more seals than people, and got to chat with the snowy plover researchers." She also did some create problem-solving, like arranging to leave a car at a nearby RV park (for a small fee).

Doug "Shaggy Doug" Viner sent me a report about trail conditions in Boardman State Scenic Corridor (much obliged!). I don't know where he started or whether this was part of a short or long hike, but cheers, Doug.


My friends Paula and Mike Ciesielsky reached (closed) Crissy Field and the end of the OCT yesterday. It was their third OCT section hike: first they hiked to Florence, then to Floras Lake, and this year from Floras to California. Sounds like they had a great time (but this is as good a place as any to note that the trail at the south end of Whaleshead Beach has slid and is now quite a treacherous scramble until you get to solid ground). The smoke came in on the second-to-the-last day, so thick that Mike had to use his headlamp to read--at 11:30 am. Wow. Congrats, Paula and Mike!

Last but not least, Brandon Tigner, the north coast stewardship coordinator for Trailkeepers of Oregon, managed to conduct a first-person scout and trail assessment of the entire OCT. Which he needed to do, COVID or no COVID: maintaining and building new sections of the OCT is a central part of his job. His Summer 2020 survey of the entire OCT will benefit future OCT hikers for years to come. He was accompanied by his wife Alix Lee-Tigner. They started hiking immediately after their wedding, which means, yes, it was also their honeymoon. Congratulations, Brandon and Alix!

My new book Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail won't be out before the 2021 hiking season, but I should have my website updated with lots of good info that will help you stay safe, have fun, and stay off the highway as much as possible.