Clandestine Cliffs Near Depoe Bay, Secret Trail
Virtual Tour of Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach, Lincoln Beach, Otter Rock, Oregon Coast
One of the more intriguing spots of the entire Oregon coast sits completely tucked away from civilization, maybe even reality itself, not far from Depoe Bay. Beneath the looming gaze of Cape Foulweather, and far beneath the roar of Highway 101, a certain set of cliffs sit quietly - yet paradoxically dramatically - remaining a strange bit of Pacific Wonderland in both the tourism and the fantasy genre sense.
It begins down the rather mysterious Otter Crest Loop, which for many years was a two-way road between Cape Foulweather and 101 near Depoe Bay - a kind of secret road beneath the part of Highway 101 that heads up the steep hill and southward towards Newport. This quickly becomes a one-way road now, thanks to a disaster in the 1990s, allowing you scenic access from Depoe Bay to the cape, but not the other direction.
Just as that road changes from two-way to one-way, there’s a small patch of gravel at the bend. Park there, and if you’re really observant, you’ll notice a hidden trai wandering down a fairly steep slope. It meanders into the grass, through poison oak leafs (so be careful and keep to long pants), and through a dense, mystical kind of forest. Weird, freakish mushrooms of unusual size and bizarre color schemes lurk here at times. It’s like an off-kilter fairy tale at times.
Then, abruptly, you emerge from the dark forest onto a wildly beautiful landscape of rocky basalt and grass-covered cliffs (and more poison oak). It’s breathtaking, stunning, and perhaps out of Narnia or Middle Earth or something. There’s little, maybe even nothing, like it on the coast.
You’ve stepped out onto a set of completely hidden cliffs, where fascinating basalt structures have sometimes left flat seat-like structures for you to sit and watch the waves smack the cliffs - a sort of front row seat to the drama, thanks to nature.
Another cliff lies not far away, more difficult to get to because of the thick brush, but even more clandestine and more full of surprises.
Whales often saunter near here, and you can hear them blowing their spouts and see them doing other awe-inspiring things.