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Photos of Oregon Coast Ghost Forest Stumps: Where Else to Find Them

Published 02/25/2016 at 5:41 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

mysterious blob-like stump at Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint is visible year-round

(Oregon Coast) – There are more ghost forest areas along the Oregon coast than just Neskowin, although these are understandably the most famous. Viewable most of the year, and fairly easily accessible, this makes them one of the biggest curiosity attractions on the whole of the coast. (Photo above: the mysterious blob-like stump at Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint is visible year-round).

It all depends on sand levels in winter, of course. If they don't get low enough, you don't see these spooky remnants, thousands of years old.

There are many more such ancient tree stands hidden beneath these beaches, however. And even though they've become much rarer in the last decade – as sand levels don't seem to get as low as before in winter – quite a few are more spectacular. Many are much older than Neskowin too, clocking at 4,000 years old in several spots. You'll find them near Cannon Beach, Pacific City, Oceanside, Seal Rock, Yachats and a lot in the Newport area.

How they got that way is still mysterious and not agreed upon. Somewhere from 1,000 to 5,000 years ago, these stands of (usually) Sitka Spruce were abruptly buried by sand or sediment and cut off from the decaying effects of oxygen. Whether it was a sudden quake and subsequent tsunami that ended their time here or just a quick change in terrain, there are two camps on this in Oregon geology. More on that here.

Whatever the case, here are some of the other ghost forest stumps you can see (or at least keep a look out for), including two others always visible.


Year-round Ghost Forests of Newport, Otter Crest. If you can't make it to Neskowin, and winter doesn't bring the famed stumps of mystery anywhere else on the Oregon coast, head to the Newport area. At Beverly Beach State Park, next to the path that takes you under the bridge and out to the sands, there is one 4,000-year-old stump on display. This one was dislodged in the 90's and made its way here during a massive storm. Oregon State Parks and Recreation turned it into an ongoing exhibit.

Its twin sits just up the road a mile or two, at the base of Otter Crest (see the photo at top). You can see it from above at a viewpoint facing south, or head down the long, long stairway to the famed surfing spot to take a closer look.


Arch Cape and Hug Point Ghost Forests. Oregon researchers have indicated these stumps are about 4,000 years old. If they show, you'll see them directly in front of the access to Hug Point, and immediately south of there at a small promontory (which the tide line sometimes cuts off access to). Just beyond this bend, you've literally entered Arch Cape. Some other ghost stumps are found at the main access to Arch Cape (next to the Arch Cape tunnel), and farther up the beach. These tend to be more stump-like than root systems.


Ghosts Near Cape Kiwanda. The stump base pictured here is from 2008, showing bedrock being revealed just north of Pacific City's Cape Kiwanda. These stumps appear to be about 1,000 years old.


Cape Lookout State Park Ghost Stumps. Again from 2008, these are dated to be around 1400 years old. During that season, sand levels had gotten so low that the stumps were being ripped out of Neskowin to the south, and the shredded remains of nearly 2,000-year-old trees from that spot were scattered all over Cape Lookout.

Ghost Forests of Newport. Mostly, these are found at Moolack Beach, if they appear at all. But some exist at Nye Beach, near Yaquina Bay, and just south of town at Thiel Creek and the Lost Creek beach access area. Most of the ghost forests in the Newport area have been radiocarbon-dated at around 4,000 years old.

At Moolack, it's interesting to note that one of the main reasons you see just roots is that early white settlers in the area chopped off the rest of the stumps for wood over 100 years ago. There are, of course, the two mentioned above that are visible year-round.

There are some archaeological sites on top of and around Yaquina Head with stumps that have clocked in at nearly 6,000 years old. The locations are not publicized, however, as they also include shell middens.


Seal Rock: these Ghost Forests also appear to be close to 4,000 years old. One of the more frequently exposed spots is just north of Seal Rock at Curtis Street.



Ghost Forests at Tillicum Beach. The famed campground just north of Yachats hosts these on rare occasions. Pictured here in 2008, this is apparently the last time they were seen. How old they are is impossible to tell, as there is no radiocarbon dating information available on them. But dating done on one stump embedded in a cliff just north of Yachats – within a few miles - indicated around 1,000 years old for that one. See the Complete Guide Oregon Coast Ghost Forests on all 45 locations. Where to stay for these - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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