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.
Glimpses of Oregon Coast Geological Mysteries
(Oregon Coast) - Sometimes Mother Nature seems as if she's dropped a hit of acid and then done some of her work. A few places on the Oregon coast have been carved out by time, tide and other factors and become so surreal in appearance that it causes you to believe the only explanation is that some mighty being was tripping on something when they created this portion of the world.
But in the end, it's simple Earth science. Geology does the darnedest things. Many of these spots lay tucked firmly away from sight by people too, making them all that much stranger, as you stumble onto them in a state of complete desolation, devoid of other souls.
Surrealism takes over here. Strange shapes that fire the imagination and remind you of something else typify these places. Beautiful but freaky. Engaging but perhaps even a little disturbing at times.
Post-Apocalyptic Cliffs of Neahkahnie
It is the forbidden part of Neahkahnie Mountain.
A secret place near Manzanita - and for good reason (it's dangerous as hell) - it is one of the stranger and more startlingly beautiful places on all of Oregon's coast. Wild and untamed barely describe what’s happening here. In fact, it’s so secret you can’t even get to it anymore.
Once, you could wander down a slope via a trail that was rather secretive all by itself, walking through a placid grassy plain that was at times reminiscent of Ireland. Now that path is overgrown with some sort of large bush – a massive invasion that has cut off access to this bizarre but precarious place.
You eventually come to a sudden drop into the ocean, where the cliffs have an abrupt end, looking straight down some 50 feet into boiling, tempestuous surf. There are no barriers here to keep you from falling.
But look around and you’ll take in something truly extraordinary. Craggy, ragged basalt structures rise on either side of you, covered in greens, foliage and trees at their tops, but hosting strange shapes that resemble the post-apocalyptic cathedrals in the original “Planet of the Apes” flicks. To the south, the basalt resembles crumbling, aged columns, as if now their contours no longer even vaguely held the lines carved into them by those who constructed this mythical cathedral. Instead, they plunged into a swirling mass of angry sea in a half circle of a writhing, deadly bay that is hungry to further destroy the columns’ aesthetics. It’s creepy and beautiful all at the same time.
To the north, it’s as if this cathedral had been mostly eroded away at this end, with one rather surreal arm of rock stretching down to form a tall sea cave – complete with mesmerizing openings in back. You naturally strain to see what’s inside or to see through the gaps.
Bubble Cliffs of Depoe Bay
At the north end of town, a couple of unremarkable roads lead to the west to the headland you see jutting out into the ocean, if you’re looking to the north from the main seawall of downtown. These take you into a cozy neighborhood that caps this headland, with several fairly obvious trails heading beyond them to a vast maze of bubble basalt and freaky cliffs that spark the imagination. In one area, the rocky forms make a single line, looking a bit like the remnant of railroad tracks in the rock. In other places, the rocks form natural seats near the raging waters below, allowing you to sit and watch the show in relative comfort.
On more intense days, you can sometimes feel the waves resonate through the rocks here.
In one spot, there’s almost a “sunken room” area, formed by a large indentation in the rock. Some parts of the rock even look like steps going and in and out of this place, about five feet deep. It’s trippy, as if some ancient culture lived here once and had created buildings with basements.
Nearby, the rocks form a roundish area that somewhat resembles a miniature Stonehenge structure (laughably bringing to mind that scene from the "Spinal Tap" movie with the accidentally small Stonehenge stage set).
At its southern end, a long, rounded leg-like shape meanders and juts out into the sea, half the time allowing you the opportunity to wander out beyond the main body of this headland. Here, strange plants cling to the smooth surfaces closer to the water, and a large crevice or two results in the sea squirting surprises at you. The other half of the time, the waves are too high to tread this section, and a constant mist sprays across the rocky blobs that allow you entrance.
A Tale of Two Chasms
Cook’s Chasm lies just immediately north of the Lane County/Lincoln County line, with its enormous crevice stretching back underneath the bridge, and creating a spectacle of wave action during stormier moments. A brand new bridge and stone viewpoints at either end let you glimpse all the action from above - or take a small trail down to the rocky slabs.
Just a stone’s throw north of Cook’s Chasm lays another state access and viewpoint to yet another large crevice – this one is handicapped accessible and requires a state pass for parking. Take the quarter-mile wooden path and it’ll lead you over the chasm and down some brushy areas, ending up at a viewpoint where an array of green sea goo covers a stark, striking landscape of rocky basalt and waves that shoot up in the air. These marine garden areas are also accessible by foot, but the taking of sea creatures is not allowed here.
Beginning or End of the Trail?
Just beyond the city limits of Yachats, at the end of a nondescript dirt road, lays a beach that is the gateway to the long stretch of basalt slabs and labyrinths that occupy Yachats’ beachfront.
It’s here where the 804 Trail ends, having
begun a little less than a mile away at Smelt Sands State Park. At this
spot, it’s the dividing line between the two different types of
beaches, with huge, encrusted boulders and odd basalt shapes meandering
in dozens of different directions at once. It almost creates a maze of
an alien landscape – one that is startling and stunning at the same
time. Clamber up these wild forms and encounter more oddities in the rocks,
including a puzzling section of this millions-of-years-old lava field
that looks as if it were cut into a zigzag, as if two square sections
were sawed from the rock by human hands. Green pools of sea goo left high
and dry, massive crevices and dramatic waves as far as you can see occupy
this unusual and unforgettable place.
Watching Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping sights
Staggeringly Cool Ideas for Oregon Coast Romance Be it the season of Valentine's or be it any time of the year, Oregon's coastline has essentially cornered the market for cuddle-inducing possibilities and gushy activities for the hand-holding set