Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mile 151.5 to Mile 174.4: Yaquina Bay to Yachats

Notations such as “(Hike 49)” refer to hikes in my book Day Hiking: Oregon Coast. Cumulative mileage figures in parentheses refer to mileage in this section only.

If you are new to the central Oregon coast, repeat after me:

Yah-QUIN-uh. YAH-hots.

Happily there is very little road walking on this stretch; you’ll mostly be on the beach. And no boat-hailing drama: you’ll wade one good-sized creek and cross a big river on a big bridge.

From the south jetty at the mouth of Yaquina Bay, walk the beach south 6.2 miles to the mouth of wadeable Beaver Creek. Someday this will be a great place to stop for the night. What used to be called Ona Beach State Park (a day use area and beach access) has been joined with nearby Beaver Creek State Natural Area and additional acreage to create Brian Booth State Park, where a new campground is being planned (but won’t be completed sooner than 2016—could be 2018 or even later). Continue south on the beach another 1.7 miles. Approaching a basalt cliff near Seal Rock State Wayside (note the rocks offshore), look for the little trail climbing up a ravine to the highway.

Follow the highway shoulder south 1.1 miles to Quail Street and follow it west back to the beach (9.1 miles). After about 3 miles of beach walking, approaching the end of the spit at the mouth of Alsea Bay, look for footsteps leading off the beach at any of several beach access trails squeezed between houses here. Follow neighborhood roads south and east to Bayshore Drive, and follow it north and uphill about 0.8 mile to U.S. 101 near the north end of the Alsea Bay Bridge. Cross the bridge; the town of Waldport (and an interpretive center with water/toilets) lies at the south end of the bridge. Follow the highway or side roads south, returning to the beach at the end of town.

Now you’ve got an uninterrupted six-plus miles of beach walking ahead, but consider stopping for the night at Beachside State Park, 2.6 miles south of Waldport (17.1 miles); look carefully for tents or RVs among the trees and footsteps leading off the beach. It’s squeezed into a narrow corridor between highway and shoreline and isn’t the most special of state parks, but it’s a legal place to sleep.

Or continue south 3.9 miles until the beach ends at a headland topped with houses. Look for a trail running up the sandstone slope; it becomes Yachats 804 Trail (Hike 49). Follow it 0.8 mile to Smelt Sands State Recreation Area. The 804 Trail continues south across a grassy field, through a neighborhood and along Ocean View Drive 1.1 miles to reconnect with U.S. 101 at the south end of the town of Yachats (22.9 miles).   

There is lodging in Waldport and in Yachats, including several motels right off the Yachats 804 Trail. The next campground is just a few miles south of Yachats; see next blog post.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mile 142.8 to Mile 151.5: Beverly Beach State Park (north of Newport) to Yaquina Bay South Jetty (south of Newport)

Notations such as “(Hike 45)” refer to hikes in my book “Day Hiking: Oregon Coast.”
Cumulative mileage figures in parentheses refer to mileage in this section only.
This is a short stretch; hike it as a short day or tack it on to the start or end of a longer day. Newport is a fine place for a layover day; it’s an interesting, vibrant coastal town with lots of good places to eat (particularly meaningful when you're walking many miles a day).  

From Beverly Beach State Park, return to the beach and head south for 2 miles. As you approach Yaquina Head, look for a trail leading off the beach near Moolack Shores Motel. Walk along the highway for 1.5 miles to the traffic light at Lighthouse Drive (heading toward Yaquina Lighthouse); Lucky Gap Trail to the beach begins at the bottom of the parking area south of Lighthouse Road and just off the highway (where you should also find a portable toilet).

From Lucky Gap, follow the beach about 3.5 miles to the mouth of Yaquina Bay (passing beach access and water/toilets at Nye Beach). There are cafes and hotels/motels close to the beach at Nye Beach; the charming Sylvia Beach Hotel has (in additional to private hotel rooms that often must be reserved months in advance) dorm rooms where you can get an inexpensive bunk for the night. (I did, but I didn’t find it particularly restful. Might have just been the mix of women who were there that night.)

Approaching the north jetty at Yaquina Bay, look for concrete stairs leading up to the old lighthouse (toilets/water); walk up and out to the highway and over the Yaquina Bay Bridge (7.7 miles). Alternatively, apparently there is now a short trail now (I haven’t walked it yet) that leads under the north end of the bridge from the beach to the bayfront, if you want to get a bite to eat or whatever.) At the south end of the bay bridge, head down the stairs and walk a short distance north to 2nd Avenue; follow it west about 1 mile along the south jetty to return to the beach. Or, about 0.25 before reaching the beach, head south on Old Jetty Trail at South Beach State Park (Hike 45) to walk through the dunes 0.5 mile or so before taking one of three intersecting trails west, to return to the beach, or east to reach the park campground (the hiker-biker camp is at the south end of the campground, near the registration booth).

I’ll end this section description here (at about 9.2 miles); until the campground at Brian Booth State Park is completed and opens in 2016 or later (see next blog post), you won’t reach another state park campground for 17.1 miles.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mile 127.4 to Mile 142.8: Siletz Bay to Beverly Beach State Park

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

There are some small rivers and creeks that can be crossed only by wading at low tide. Then there are bay mouths, such as the mouth of the Siletz, that can only be crossed at high tide. That’s because Siletz Bay is so shallow, there are no boats anywhere on it except for a couple of hours either side of high tide.

From the end of the beach at Lincoln City, you have two options:

Hail a recreational crabber or fisherman in the bay (this fellow at right, for example) to get a quick trip across the bay mouth to the end of Salishan Spit. Again, your timing needs to be right; this can only happen within a couple of hours of high tide. There is no marina on Siletz Bay, so no one to prearrange a ride with. From the tip of Salishan Spit, walk the beach until it ends at Fishing Rock (5.8 miles).
 Alternately, if the tide is low or you are otherwise unable or unwilling to hitch a ride, just follow the edge of the bay inland 0.6 mile to U.S. 101, by the gazebo at Siletz Bay Park. Following the highway south, across Schooner Creek, then Drift Creek, then the Siletz River to the traffic light at Salishan Spa and Golf Resort (mile 3.8). The resort’s nature trail heads west 0.5 mile between the bay and the golf course to the beach, but it’s private resort property, so continue along the highway another 0.8 mile head west 0.25 mile at the sign to Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site, where there are toilets and water. Follow the beach south 2.1 miles south to Fishing Rock. (Highway shoulder route adds about 1.2 miles to the distance between the end of the beach at Siletz Bay and Gleneden Beach).

There are scramble trails leading up onto Fishing Rock; follow one out to the parking area (portable potty in the summertime, last time I checked) and walk east on Fishing Rock Street to the highway. Cross it and drop down into Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area (toilets/water); follow park roads and trails south across Fogarty Creek and back up to the highway.

Cross the highway and pick up the OCT heading south parallel to the highway. This new section was completed in 2013; it takes OCT hikers off a particularly dangerous stretch of highway. I haven’t hiked it yet myself; I believe it extends about 0.9 mile to Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint, though it may continue further, to the edge of the town of Depoe Bay. There are toilets and water at the Whale Watch Center on the Depoe Bay seawall (8.3 miles).

As I understand it, this newly constructed OCT stretch picks up again at the south end of Depoe Bay (exactly where, I’m not sure) and runs through the woods in the right-of-way on the west side of the highway, I believe all the way to where Otter Crest Loop Road meets the highway (2.3 miles from the Whale Watch Center). Pick up Otter Crest Loop (which has little traffic and great views) and follow it south 3 miles to the sign to Devils Punchbowl. at First Street. Walk west on First Street 0.4 mile to the top of the stairs at Devil’s Punchbowl and follow them down the southern cliff face to the beach. Walk the beach about 1.4 miles to Spencer Creek; here, follow footsteps under the highway and into Beverly Beach State Park (15.4 miles).

Beverly Beach is a large and busy state park with a nice hiker-biker camp tucked into the forested hillside above the creekside camping loops.