Cavalcade of Unearthly Geologic Delights S. of Yachats
(Yachats, Oregon) – Almost smack dab in the very middle of the Oregon coast, where Lincoln County merges imperceptibly into Lane County, there are 25 miles of practically hidden spots that allow you to really get away from it all when everyone else seems to be doing the same thing around you. Between Yachats and Florence, even on the very busy glory days of summer, you're likely to find yourself away from the maddening crowds that can really cramp a good time on a day at the beach.
It starts off well-populated enough as you head south of Yachats, with the sudden rise towards Cape Perpetua along a tight, twisting road. You soon come to the pounding drama of the Devil's Churn, a massive wave-cut groove in the basalt that causes the ocean to do some spectacular things.
High above it sits the top of Cape Perpetua, where you rise some 600 feet in the air to a high vantage point that will always take your breath away. While this spot is often buzzing with some activity, head down the path heading almost directly NW and you'll quickly encounter that intriguing lookout shelter, which was built in the 30's but still sits to allow soaking in the views during nasty weather.
A mile down the road and you'll quickly encounter the stunning, wacky action of Cook's Chasm and its awe-inspiring spouting horn, where if conditions are right, this geologic oddity treats you to a show of spray and ocean waves firing off at a strange angle with a remarkable hissing noise.
Further down Highway 101, bundles of intricate beaches beckon, like Bob Creek and its many tide pools, Neptune and its varied landscapes, and then the always captivating Strawberry Hill, where you're first greeted by this rather playful triad of steps embedded into the cliffs.
This, in turn, allows you access to an entrancing beach that is a multifarious mish-mash of sand, rocks and more sand and rocks, creating a mesmerizing labyrinth of things to explore and get lost in. Tide pool creatures way outnumber the humans here.
Wandering south, you'll rise and fall along this sometimes twisting road, coming across pullout after pullout with stunning views below. Eventually, you'll arrive at Ocean Beach Picnic Ground, which is a heck of a lot bigger than it looks.
It's very recognizable by that bulbous mound jutting out into the sea, with its dimple-like indentation being echoed on the other side as well. Wander down from the grassy – well, picnic area – and you'll encounter a long, flat beach full of little surprises and delights, like most of the beaches on this part of the central Oregon coast. A sizable crack in the cliff face that gives way to a small cave here, a rocky blob there. Tide pool critters and birds are usually your only company as wander northward.
Near the beach entrance, however, sit a ton of tide pool opportunities and climable rock surfaces – if tidal conditions permit.
Continue south to more hidden gems like the prehistoric world of Stonefield Beach and its wowing, densely packed treasure trove of odd basalt structures. From there, a few more hidden gems appear, like the Hobbit Trail or Muriel Ponsler, until you reach the Heceta Head Lighthouse and the re-emergence of civilization and packed parking lots.
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