Oddities of Manzanita, Oregon: the Mysterious Arch of Neahkahnie

Published 12/03/2012

(Manzanita, Oregon) – That looming presence over the the north Oregon coast town of Manzanta - Neahkahnie Mountain – holds a huge array of secrets. Among them are questions about pirate treasure, whether or not Sir Francis Drake hovered in this area and even if Lewis and Clark made it down this far south. Many of its secrets are less ephemeral in nature and are indeed about nature itself, with a host of features and spots that are extremely difficult to find and perhaps even legendary (like the purported “Pirate Bar” camping spot located in some extremely dangerous section of the mountain's rubble-strewn tip).

One intriguing secret can be seen from a distance every day, however, but few probably notice. In fact, many regulars to the sleepy Oregon coast hotspot-to-be likely don't even see it.

If you look closely at the end of Neahkahnie Mountain's farthest edge you'll see a mysterious arch. But you have to look close. When you do, you'll notice it looks a lot like some ruin of an ancient cathedral, or perhaps a Roman structure from antiquity.

It's a fascinating little chunk of rock; a feature that can send the imagination into overdrive. Yet it does not appear to have a name. Other very secret structures nearby do, such as Pulpit Rock or Cube Rock (which can be seen by wandering up to the bluff that overlooks Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park, just north of Manzanita).

This fascinating feature is quite a ways away from even the closest points to Neahkahnie Mountain, and in order to see it clearly you have to use some zoom optics. It completely disappears behind the tip of Neahkahnie after you get within a certain distance of the mountain.

This shot was taken at night, as was the one below, which makes the ocean look like a surreal mist, giving the arch more of a vibe of a creepy castle.

You can't see the arch from any other angle, either.

The photo above is of the other side of that tip of the headland, and the arch is not visible.

There are trails up on Neahkahnie, near the longer trail going down to Short Sand Beach (otherwise known as Smuggler's Cove), which can give you glimpses of the other side of the tip of Neahkahnie. But these are often not traversable because of thick brush. In fact, it appears they've only been accessible once in the last 15 years – which is a good idea since the area is extremely dangerous.

Before that brush covered the trail, you could see this was not the only arch. There are a few little pocket coves (indentations in the cape, actually) between the tip of Neahkahnie and Short Sand, and the one at the end of this now-covered over trail showed another, smaller basalt arch.

An aerial photo of this area just south of Cape Falcon shows some of the intriguing geology of the place and its numerous features, hidden from view from the average visitor to the Oregon coast. Bundles of large, cavernous sea caves dot the headland here. Just out of view in this photo are the features known as Cube Rock and Pulpit Rock, but more on those here.

Below is the other arch, with the tip of Cape Falcon (the northern border of Short Sand Beach) jutting out just beyond the ragged shape.


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