Bizarre Landmarks and Landscapes of the Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – Ah, a day at the beach. Nice, soft sands, perhaps indulging in some seafood, and the lulling sound of the waves. You’re wandering your favorite beach spot – a place you come to regularly.
And then you suddenly realize you’ve bored yourself out of your mind.
Where else to go? What else to explore? What other spots afford a bit of adventure as well as something slightly startling to look at?
The true hidden spots of the coast provide the real fun of discovery. From basalt structures that hearken back to the Planet of the Apes movies and a hint of the mini-Stonehenge gag from “Spinal Tap,” to intriguing mixes of rock and sandy beach, get ready for a lovely “kick in the eye” (as the Eastern philosophers put it).
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 - pictured here. Some parts of the rock even look like steps going and in and out of those 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 seen 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.
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.
First, you wander down a slope via a trail that's rather secretive all by itself, walking through a placid grassy plain that's at times reminiscent of Ireland. 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, so stay well clear of the edge.
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.
This spot is apparently not even accessible anymore, grown over by loads of vegetation so large it does not allow passage.
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 lies 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.
From both spots, you can see spouting horns shooting off into the air.
Beginning or End of the Trail?
Just beyond the city limits of Yachats, at the end of a nondescript dirt road, lies 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 encrusted huge 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 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.
More About Oregon Coast lodging.....
LATEST OREGON COAST NEWS STORIES
Back to Oregon Coast Beach Connection