Thursday, August 11, 2016

Your 2016 OCT Update (for those who have not yet started or finished their trek)

I have not posted for awhile. I have many excuses:
  • I have been busy hiking. Yay.
  • I have been busy with my day job(s). It happens.
  • I have been trying to wrap my mind around a post giving suggestions for section hikes, but I just can't do it. There are too many variables. (For instance, I recently corresponded with some folks planning a section hike, but it needed to be two nights, on the north coast, with a particular range of miles per day, and each campsite had to be accessible by road...) You'll have to figure out your section hike on your own, with help from my book Day Hiking: Oregon Coast and my May 18 post on DIY section-hike planning.

But I also owe followers (or discoverers) of this blog a  2016 summary update on the OCT. Here is the intel I have on trail conditions, tips, changes, etc., from my own observations and those of hikers who have emailed me thus far. (This includes info from 2015--basically, anything since my update guidebook was published). If you haven't yet set out on your 2016 OCT trek (or even if you go early in summer 2017), you may find these helpful. I also expect to get some beta from thru-hiker Dogwood, who recently finished; I'll post it if/when I get it.


No toilets at the west end of Avenue U (sorry about that). Fortunately Seltzer Park (flush toilets and water) is just a short walk ahead.

A chunk of the trail over Tillamook Head slid away over the winter (1.4 miles from the north trailhead at Seaside) but hikers have blazed a scramble route around it—totally passable with care. Note that there is no water at the trail’s end at Indian Point (toilets only) but there is water (and toilets) in 1.5 miles at Ecola Point.


If, after Cape Lookout, you find yourself on track to hit the mouth of Sand Lake at high tide, and you want to keep moving, and you decide to leave the beach at the OHV area, you’ll follow Galloway Road north and east to Sandlake Road, which you’ll take south to Cape Kiwanda. On the way you’ll pass the short road to Whalen Island and Whalen Island County Park, which, it turns out, has hiker-biker campsites (with toilets and water). It’s a lovely and much-quieter alternative to hiker-biker sites at Webb County Park at Cape Kiwanda. (Or just wait for low tide, cross, and continue south.)

Crossing the Nestucca River, south of Pacific City: I had it on good authority (and my own observations) that there was no safe way to make a boat ferry across the mouth of the Nestucca (thus requiring a road walk or bus ride from Pacific City to return to the beach north of Neskowin). Au contraire: a pair of 2016 thru-hikers let me know that fishing guide Jesse Zalois is willing to give it a shot, at a reasonable price, if conditions are right. He would pick up hikers at the end of Nestucca Spit (Bob Straub State Park) and drop them off on the beach south of the mouth of the river.  (Unfortunately it didn’t work out; Zalonis had a family emergency and had to cancel.) If you want to try it yourself, contact him through his website,, or 503-392-5808.


If you’re heading south on the beach from Florence and looking for the mouth of Threemile Creek (to locate the end of Sparrow Park Road), note that the creek mouth may have migrated slightly and be south of the end of the road.

My book mentions that camping is not allowed at the mouth of Tenmile Creek, south of Winchester Bay in the Oregon Dunes. Turns out that restriction (protecting snow plover nesting habitat) applies for 1.5 miles south of Tenmile Creek as well.

Horsfall Beach, north of Coos Bay/North Bend, has portable toilets but no water. Walk to 0.75 mile to Bluebill Campground for decent vault toilets and potable water (lots of mosquitoes early in summer, but not now). If you are unable to arrange a boat shuttle across the mouth of Coos Bay to Charleston, I’m told that the cab from here to Charleston was only $20 (way cheaper than my boat shuttle was).


Nesika Beach, north of Gold Beach: My book says to leave the beach at the south end of town, but in fact that’s all private property. Instead, about 1.3 miles south of Ophir Rest Area, look for a ravine with a trail post and sand path leading off the beach (if you start seeing houses on the bluff, you’ve gone too far). It leads to Nesika Road. Follow it south through town until it curves east, toward US 101, and look to your right for where the OCT resumes as a footpath.

I’m told that the trail up the north side of Cape Sebastian (south of Gold Beach) is much better signed than when I walked it.


Regarding the mouth of Pistol River: I don’t know if it can be safely waded even in summer, even at low tide. (The beach is very steep and the sand soft.) Here’s what I suggest instead. Leave the beach 1 mile south of the mouth of Myers Creek (look for footsteps heading into the dunes just north of a house-size boulder in the dunes). Follow this short path to US 101 and walk south on the highway shoulder 1 mile to the bridge over Pistol River. Cross the bridge, then go right into the parking area at Pistol River Viewpoint. From here, scramble down the dune, across the river floodplain (dry in summer), back up over a dune, and down to the beach.

Report from a hiker in September 2015 indicated that the North Boardman OCT Connection trail (#85 in my book) was totally unmaintained, rough, and overgrown with blackberry briars. You might consider staying on the highway shoulder for another 2 miles or so, to Arch Rock Picnic Area, where the well-maintained OCT resumes.

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