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Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Stumbling Onto the Untamed on Oregon's Coast
(Oregon Coast) - Strange and beautiful are the active words for some spots on Oregon's coast, where the idea of simple natural splendor just doesn't do justice in describing them. Some beaches are hidden ones, and thus intriguing more than the known strands by default. Others are more obvious to the eye and memory, but have unique qualities that make them stand out.
Just south of the county lines between Lane and Lincoln counties, a ways south of Yachats, sits a beach spot with no name. The parking lot gives way to a path down to this beach with two personalities: one is a sandy, slightly stony crescent; the other a labyrinth of basalt structures. Where the two parts meet, a small basalt arch stretches over and into the sand. Black, giant, jagged rocky slabs contain numerous fissures or cracks, where the tide can do especially spectacular things (you don't want to be around them at these times, however). Huge logs lie all about, testifying to the dangerous power of the waters here. Or, wander up the secret path overlooking the beach and watch it all from above. You may even catch sight of ancient Indian shell middens here.
Another spot to keep an eye out for is a hidden spot known as Depoe View Park, lurking behind the northern part of Depoe Bay. Look for Vista St. along the northern part of Depoe Bay, and this will lead you into a neighborhood and a sign that reads "to the rocks." Take that lead, and you'll find an amazing span of puffy, bubble-like basalt cliffs where the ocean below crashes with enough power to sometimes make this area shake. Walk around a ways and you'll encounter various strange forms and craggy structures - including a natural oddity that looks like a mini Stonehenge, and an area that looks like a small, sunken basement with the basalt forming natural steps going down into it.
A ways further north, between Lincoln City and Tillamook, sit the tall, ragged and golden cliffs of Cape Kiwanda. On top, there are numerous secrets and incredible views. Hidden coves beckon, often completely unreachable. From some angles, some structures resemble human fists, giant faces or maybe the surface of another world. Peek over the fences on the ledges to witness enormous, wind-carved cliffs getting battered by monstrous waves.
One of the state's most enthralling hidden spots lies right next to Oceanside, just west of Tillamook. Look for Radar Rd. along the back road between Oceanside and Cape Meares, and you'll find the refurbished entrance to this stunning beach. Until recently, the way down here was precarious and slippery, causing many injuries. But locals got together and created this "stairway of 1000 steps." First, you'll find the bulbous blob at the tide line, resembling the sea stack at Neskowin to the south. Wander here a bit longer, and you may see the waterfall coming from the side of the cliff which hosts the lighthouse.
Legends abound here. It's said that at extreme low tides, there is yet another tunnel visible (like the one through the cliff in Oceanside). One version of the legend says there may be two tunnels here.
Even further north, between Seaside and Astoria, sits Fort Stevens State Park and its numerous manmade - but abandoned - wonders. There's the wreck of the Peter Iredale, a schooner that smashed here in 1912 and is now known as the world's most photographed shipwreck. And then there are the numerous concrete battlements, once used to guard the mouth of the Columbia, which housed huge guns and now look a little bit like an American version of an old castle.
Between Cannon Beach and the Nehalem Bay area, you'll find the Arch Cape Tunnel and tiny, unincorporated community of Arch Cape. It seems like all these beaches here are hidden ones, with hardly any souls wandering most of them.
Just south of the tunnel, you'll find the very clandestine Falcon Cove, nicknamed "Magic Rocks Beach" by some locals because this landscape of mostly ocean-polished cobblestones makes a funny, rattling noise as the tide disturbs them. This area is only acceptable to wander during calmer conditions and highly dangerous during storms. However, the cliff above it makes a good, safe vantage point to watch the show.
Arch Cape itself is an oft-deserted wonder, with a pair of sea stacks hugging a slightly hidden cove, only accessible at low tides.
Further north, you'll find the varied treasures of Hug Point, with its sea caves, waterfall, the remnants of a road going around the headland and the evidence of an ancient traffic light still embedded in the cliff face. Most of this, however, is only accessible at moderate to lower tides.
Just north of there, Aracadia Beach provides a great vantage point to watch storms hit this beach and its rocky structures. Or at lower tides, venture around the point to see tide pools, a huge sea cave, and glimpse the vast stretch of sand between you and Cannon Beach's rocky landmarks in the distance.