Tuesday, June 17, 2014

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.)

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