Central Oregon Coast
Beach after beach, state park after state park, the central Oregon coast is filled with opportunities for relaxation and inspiration. Leave summer's heat and forest fires behind and escape to the cool embrace of Pacific breezes!
While I have been out hiking the trails of our great northwest, I hope you have also been re-creating. At least, I hope you got a chance to pick up one of the coast bicycle route maps I wrote about last time. Remember, it is not just for cyclists! You can get pdf versions of coast and state routes here.
The places I want to share with you this week are not highlighted on those maps. The first place is Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. This is part of the Suislaw National Forest. It is not an Oregon state park.
Cape Perpetua is a very family-friendly place with tidepools, trails, vistas, "surf explosions", and even a giant spruce. Take the family here for a weekend and never run out of things to do!
Upon arriving, the first place to go is to the visitors center to get a map with numbered trails and places. This will be your planner. Depending on time of day and weather, you can join a ranger at the tidepools or you can walk inland among the thick greenery that shelters you from the wind. The campsites are also nestled in the trees and back from the exposed coast to almost guarantee you a pleasant stay.
One place you absolutely must visit—by walking or by car—is the West Shelter high up on the Whispering Spruce Trail (#6 on the map). The 80 year old stone shelter is a great place from which to view miles of coastline.
Another place that must be visited, and is easily accessible via a short trail, is the Devil's Churn. A deep inlet cutting into the coast, this place can be almost mesmerizing as the surf goes in and out. If tide and wind and other factors come together right, you will be able to see the water explode upward in giant plumes.
When the surf is too loud or windy, head back to the parking lot at the end of the campground and walk a short quarter mile or so to the Giant Spruce. Though it is not as big as a redwood, it is truly giant for a spruce. It even has a hole in its base that will make for a nice play area for the kids!
Finally, be sure to take a look at Thor's Well. It is a rare geological feature of the area and you can preview a video of it here.
From Cape Perpetua, I headed north to Yaquina Head Lighthouse. (see map below) When I turned off Highway 101 to head west on Lighthouse Drive, I realized I had made a big mistake. The line of vehicles waiting to enter stretched almost to the highway and included several tour buses. When I saw there was an entrance fee, I decided I did not want to pay to be suffocated in a swirling crowd. I left to search for alternatives.
I found one! Notice the red dot at the top of the map below. The beach is at the end of 68th Street which is north of Agate Beach which is north of Newport. Because the broken pavement/gravel street is not obvious, it is probably easier to go well north, turn around, then slowly head south. Watch for a little street sign on the right. The parking lot at the end of the street is not well laid out, so you may want to back in to a spot. That way, if it fills up, you will not need to turn around with lots of cars around. Either way, enjoy the beach and the view!
Why go to the ocean? To satisfy your "blue mind" according to two articles that are based on the book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. You can ignore the evolutionary references because that is never needed to understand current data.
In this article, it is explained that water gives our brains a rest, encourages meditation, can be romantic (duh!), and promotes creativity and exercise. If you want more details, facts, and figures, then you might enjoy this article more.
In the end, for whatever scientific reasons you may or may not understand, going to the ocean relaxes and inspires you. Enjoy!
by Ed Lyon, 8/18/17