Unknown But Astounding on Oregon Coast: Tiny Arch Cape
Published 10/02/2015 at 5:22 AM PDT - Updated 10/02/2015 at 5:32 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) - Don't blink along this portion of the north Oregon coast, or you'll miss it. Although it's tiny, you'll be missing big.
A couple of miles south of Hug Point (just south of Cannon Beach), if you're paying attention you'll encounter the lovely little beach interlude known as Arch Cape. It's a teensy, weensy north Oregon coast community that consists of a smattering of homes and one or two businesses right on 101. But mostly it's a couple of beach accesses hidden behind a handful of neighborhood streets - and it's one truly romantic beach walk.
This beach, a mix of cobblestones and sand, reaches north all the way to near Hug Point (which is totally accessible at low tide after a two-mile walk.) But on its south side you'll find a small grouping of rock structures hugging a basalt point. At lower tides, you can walk between these and the cliffs and explore a rocky beach full of boulders, dramatic structures and that glorious standby of great first dates for romancers: poking around tide pools with the object of your affection.
The most obvious beach access is at the southern tip, right up against the Arch Cape Tunnel, as you motor your way towards Oswald West State Park and Manzanita. Here, the big beach access gives you a kind of front row view to Queen Vic: that grand basalt blob not far offshore.
There are other accesses hidden at the northern end of “town” - essentially a few blocks. Some of these little gravel roads don't lead to any beach accesses; some of them do. Sharks Lane, for example, drops you off at a big creek, where interesting objects pile up, and the landscape gets more covered in polished stones. This is heaps harder to walk on, and unless the tide is out a ways, that's often your only path around this placid place.
Near here, there's a beach access next to a section of road not passable by cars, but there is a footbridge. You have to head back onto 101 to continue driving north or south along Pacific Road.
At one point – at the northern tip – the road gets closed off by a gated community. But the beach accesses will allow you to keep walking north until you bump into Hug Point. The beach opens up quite a ways here as well, giving you more space from the tide.
To find a totally hidden spot adjacent to Arch Cape, head to that southernmost access. You may be able to walk past those rock structures to a bit of a secret paradise. This all depends on the tides, however. If there's a low tide event, it's easier. But often – yet not always – summer sand levels rise high enough that it mimics a big minus tide and keeps the ocean at bay. This allows a very a safe walk around that point where you'll bump into the huge arch in the rocks that gave Arch Cape its name.
Or, drive through the Arch Cape tunnel about a mile, 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're 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 it's nicknamed "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. More on this area below and at the Cannon Beach, Arch Cape Virtual Tour, Map.
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