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Finds Near Cannon Beach Include Chattering Creatures, the Whimsical and 18-Million-Year-Old Oregon Coast

Published 08/18/23 at 3:44 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Finds Near Cannon Beach Include Chattering Creatures, the Whimsical and 18-Million-Year-Old Oregon Coast

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – One of the Oregon coast's most famous viewpoints packs a lot more punch than you imagine. Hundreds stop here every day, admiring the view of iconic Haystack Rock – a view from just south of Cannon Beach that fires up cameras of all kinds and lights up the eyes. Yet they don't know what's really here. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection: "hairy" creature-like rocks at Silver Point)

So much more is going on down below it's a huge surprise. Silver Point, as this place is called, is not like other viewpoints on the Oregon coast. For one, it's not just a viewpoint but an accessible beach – albeit with extreme caution. You cannot come down here at high tides or in winter storms. Still, few know you can get to the funky fun below, or the secrets it holds. You have to walk a ways, however, almost half a mile from the southern-most beach access in Cannon Beach. There is no actual way down to the beach at Silver Point from these cliffs.

Photo Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium: this is the viewpoint, but below are the treasures, including Jockey Cap Rock

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Once here, you may get a preview of what's beneath the rest of Cannon Beach: bedrock so ancient it's mind-boggling. There are also unusual “creatures” here and a freaky cave, not to mention tidepools that may “talk” to you.

It's not easy to find that access, however. Just south of the Tolovana area lie a handful of streets that end with oceanfront views, most with a tiny access. From here, the walk south along this lovely beach is also usually quite bereft of people. After about a half mile, you'll come to the large sea stack that dominates the scene, and soaring cliffs that rise above you on the other side. If you look closely up above, you'll notice people milling around.

That is Silver Point, the famed turnout viewpoint that everyone stops at to ogle distant views. The rock just below you is called Jockey Cap Rock.

Once here, you'll notice some fascinating lines etched across the walls: almost as if some behemoth had gouged this chunk of Oregon coast. It's an intriguing bit of geology, however: more or less a series of muddy water runoffs frozen in time from eons ago. The shapes were eventually hardened over millions of years, leaving this odd look you don't see virtually anywhere else on the Oregon coast (although the very edges of Roads End in Lincoln City have a similar design). Cannon Beach's Silver Point: N. Oregon Coast Cliff Speaks Volumes of Geologic History

Sometimes you'll find bundles of rubble down here, as the cliff periodically crumbles a bit. Other times, you may find these curious rocks with seaweed covering them, looking a little like small, hairy, gnomish creatures out of the old film “Labyrinth” - as if Jim Hensen's muppets had found a retirement spot.

Cave inside Jockey Cap Rock / Seaside Aquarium photo

There's a big sea cave inside Jockey Cap, which is occasionally fun to peek through if the tide allows you to even see through the other side.

It's here among the rubble that tidepools may host loads of barnacles. If so, you may hear the “chatting” as you approach them. More on talking barnacles here: Video: Oregon Coast Talking Barnacles - Rare Sound Recording

On rare occasions, winter tides have scoured out sands so much the 18-million-year-old bedrock is showing. This dark gray material is mudstone, part of a massive formation beneath many beaches from Newport up through Astoria, called the Astoria Formation. It's what is underneath all of Cannon Beach's sands – and Seaside's. With Cannon Beach, it's not that deep. With Seaside, it's about 150 feet down.

Oregon Coast Storms Reveal What's Beneath Cannon Beach at Silver Point 18-million-year-old bedrock that's underneath all of Cannon Beach

Courtesy CoastWatch's Jessie Jones: Silver Point's bare, 18-million-year-old bedrock

From here, it's about another mile walk along the beach to Arcadia Beach.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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