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New Years Day First Day Hikes Along Oregon Coast Provide Guides to the Wonders

Published 12/17/23 at 6:15 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

New Years Day First Day Hikes Along Oregon Coast Provide Guides to the Wonders

(Oregon Coast) – Some 31 state parks in Oregon are full of more wonder than usual on New Year's Day, as the state's Guided First Day Hikes happen all around the region, with numerous Oregon coast spots on the calendar. Monday, January 1 is also when state parks that normally charge a $5 parking fee waive that cost for the day. It's free to park at those areas hosting the guided hikes too. (Above: Bullards Beach, Bandon - Photo Courtesy Manuela Durson Fine Arts)

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Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has been participating in this program since 2012, sponsored by the America's State Parks organization.

Lisa Sumption, director of OPRD, said the agency is offering 34 hikes at 31 state parks. Accessibility is a growing priority for OPRD and thus information about such capabilities is being provided on its website, and there are phone numbers at these state parks to call for special accommodations – if they can be made.

Visitors of all abilities are a new focus for OPRD.

Along the coastline, there are quite a few state parks offering the guided hikes, with some requiring pre-registration.

In all cases, you'll want to dress for a variety of possible weather situations, including layers, gloves and sturdy shoes, and you should bring water. Also bring binoculars for the looks at wildlife – and in some cases for whales.

Most hikes begin at 10 a.m. and go until noon, but some are different. You'll need to check the State Parks website for the event to doublecheck on details like accessibility, whether or not dogs are allowed, and contacts.

An overview of the coastal hikes:

Fort Stevens at Coffenbury Lake, Warrenton. Wildlife and birds are part of the agenda at this epic north Oregon coast locale. The trail is mostly flat with some small elevation changes. Leashed dogs that are friendly can be brought along.

Harris Beach State Park, Brookings. Approximately one mile, this famed south Oregon coast state park shows off plenty. The walk is on dirt, gravel and some paved surfaces, and there's a moderate incline in two areas. Dogs are not allowed.

Depoe Bay Whale Center. For this bit of central Oregon coast adventure, you hike three miles roundtrip from the Whale Watch Center to Boiler Bay State Park. There are two whale-watch spots along the way. It's a very easy hike that's mostly on pavement. Dogs aren't allowed.

Nehalem Bay State Park, Manzanita. Park staff arrive at 9:45 a.m. for the 10 a.m. event, departing after a five-minute briefing. It's a hike through easy terrain on a paved path, with hardly a gain in elevation. This event happens no matter what the weather: sun, rain or even a winter storm.

Shore Acres State Park near Coos Bay. A two-mile hike along the Oregon Coast Trail where whale watching is one of the goals. The hike is on uneven ground and there's a moderate elevation gain. Dogs won't be allowed.

South Beach State Park, Newport. This one is two miles around the South Beach Old Jetty Trail, where you may return on the paved path or via beach. That is dependent on the weather. Well-behaved dogs on a leash are allowed. 10 a.m.

William M. Tugman State Park near Florence. Eel Lake has a 1.5-mile hike that heads there and then back, much of it along the shore. They'll be showing you around the local wildlife, which could include chipmunks and aquatic birds. Binoculars or cameras are suggested for viewing.

Honeyman State Park, Florence. About 1.8 miles roundtrip, you'll weave with the trail through forests, up to Cleawox Lake, and then to some amount of historic structures. You'll dig into the beauty and the fauna of the park as well as its history. There is some slight elevation gain and sometimes it can be quite uneven, but otherwise it's an easy one.

Courtesy OPRD

Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, near Winchester Bay. A hike that's a mere one mile starts at 1 p.m. You'll skirt the edges of Lake Marie, possibly seeing mushrooms and newts. Friendly dogs on a leash are welcome.

Sitka Sedge near Pacific City. Take a good gander at the Sandlake Estuary and the varied environment of the dunes. There's history here, as well as plants and wildlife – all of which you'll get to learn about.

Bullards Beach State Park, Bandon. This two-mile hike is a moderate one, taking you through the boardwalk and along the trail through the dunes. Wetlands, a shorepine forest and the beach itself are all on the agenda. Friendly dogs are welcome.

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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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