A Tiny Uncrowded Oregon Coast Wonder: Awe-Inspiring Arch Cape
Published 09/09/2016 at 7:21 PM PDT - Updated 09/09/2016 at 7:31 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – Not everything on the north Oregon coast is hustle, bustle and traffic. While that 30-mile stretch between Seaside, Cannon Beach and Manzanita can be truly buzzing with activity, there is one spot that mostly guarantees solitude and serenity from the crowds and craziness. (Above: Castle Rock at Arch Cape, sometimes called Queen Vic).
A couple of miles south of Hug Point (just south of Cannon Beach) you'll encounter the lovely little beach interlude known as Arch Cape. It's a tiny community that consists of a few homes and one or two businesses right on 101. But mostly it's a couple of beach accesses hidden behind some neighborhood streets - and it's one truly romantic beach walk.
The main entrance to this unincorporated village is right next to the Arch Cape Tunnel, but there are a couple lurking to the north, tucked away in those neighborhoods. Parking is at a minimum, so be courteous as you'll be leaving your car in front of someone else's house.
This broad, sandy beach reaches north all the way to near Hug Point (which is totally accessible at low tide after a two-mile walk from the southernmost entrance of Arch Cape.) It varies in terrain along those two miles, but mostly is typified by a large tract of polished, rounded stones and varying amounts of sand. Along the way is Shark Creek, where the walkability (depending on the tide) can get difficult, as you're largely left with the stony stuff to tread on. Not easy. But closer to Hug Point, it gets mostly sandy and effortless.
Originally, the unincorporated village had the name of Cannon Beach, named after the two cannon that were found there in the late 1800's. By the early 20th century, the larger, now more famous settlement north of there snagged the name on a permanent basis, and Arch Cape took its name from a series of arches found at the southern edge of the beach. That spiderweb of arches crumbled in the '40s, leaving just one arch now. But up until that time, especially when the beaches along all the Oregon coast were still the roads, ambulances would drive between them on emergency runs.
You can still see that remaining arch if the edge of Cape Falcon (or the southernmost tip of town) is opened by tides, but they don't always allow that. Normally, it's a rather raucous place and too dangerous to go around.
When that structure fell, it left a host of boulders which now house bundles of tide pools.
During the summer, sand levels often get high enough to keep the tide pushed well back, and then it's safe to wander the other side and check what seems a very deserted beach.
This is a bit of a secret paradise.
Or, drive through the Arch Cape tunnel about a mile or two, until you spot a sign signaling "Falcon Cove Road." This is a residential district, so you'll want to be respectful here as you park near a somewhat slippery, muddy beach access.
Once on the beach, you'll find one of the more unusual spots on the Oregon coast. Here, the beach is mostly comprised of large, polished cobblestones. It's a strange place: essentially you are walking on a huge pile of rocks, sometimes carved into odd tiers, making it hard to traverse in places. The water crashes loudly on the steep shore, dissipates quickly, then it makes a weird noise as the waves recede and pull on the rocks.
Because of that noise, the spot is sometimes called Magic Rocks Beach.
On the south side, things are covered in large boulders and you can sometimes make it over these huge stones quite a ways until it all dead-ends at a majestic, soaring cliff. More on Arch Cape below and at the Cannon Beach Virtual Tour, Map. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour
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