Central Oregon Coast's Otter Loop Cajoles with Chaos and Calm
Published 12/27/2015 at 5:13 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – You could call them the Clandestine Cliffs of Lincoln County. If you're driving south on 101 just after Depoe Bay, you may notice a tiny, nondescript road called Otter Crest Loop - one that may not pique your interest.
This lulling but lively bit of land is one of the more stunning along the Oregon coast, and yet it's not as full of folks as many hotspots nearby. You can't get the full effect coming from Newport, from the south. You have to start at the northern edge, where you get a preview of the coming wonders at the pullout called Rodea Point (photo below). There, the breakers go bonkers on even fairly calm days.
As it meanders below Highway 101, Otter Crest Loop quickly becomes a single lane going south, starting at a spot just before where a big landslide tore the road away in the early 2000's. It's never been the same since - thankfully - as officials have turned it into a pleasant, canopied one-way road that hovers above beautiful, rather unknown cliffs.
The road ends up at Cape Foulweather, where you can also park to bike this small but mesmerizing journey.
You can wander down to some jaw-dropping secret cliffs just below the Otter Crest Loop’s one-way section and take in an incredible vibe, via a secret path.
The trail downward is where the one-way road starts, at a little gravel turn-off. Hop the traffic barrier and you’ll find a steep trail meandering as you abruptly enter a dark forest area (which sometimes boasts really huge, wildly-colored mushrooms). The scenery explodes in front of you with a sense of the dramatic as you step out of the forest to big ocean vistas.
It’s an amazing labyrinth of rocky cliffs, pointy things and smooth stuff - all a bit alien. Parts of these basalt slabs actually form flat seats overlooking often insane wave action.
A trail running along side of the hill let’s you access a second cliff just south of it.
So many more such views are available from Otter Crest Loop before you get to Cape Foulweather, albeit from the roadway (and less of a strenous jaunt). Plunging cliffs disappear into raging surf. Dramatic ocean vistas pop out between the thick walls of soothing forest. Dazzling oceanic pyrotechnics are in abundance. Grassy greens cover the blackened basalt towers. Plus, you can see Cape Foulweather and the little gift shop atop it from new angles.
Other must-stops along the way include the Ben Jones Bridge viewpoint, just before the road becomes a one-way. Here, a small cove is curiously both calm and raucous at the same time. A small stone-encircled parking lot is an added architectural pleasantry. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour
There's only one rule: have your camera ready. OK, two rules: watch for bike traffic and be cautious when pulling over constantly to take in the views and vistas. Because you will indeed pull over constantly. More about the area below and at the Depoe Bay Virtual Tour, Map.
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