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On Edge of Central and South Oregon Coast, Florence's Killer Plants, Aerial Views, Horses

Published 06/20/22 at 11:25 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Between Edge of Central and South Oregon Coast, Florence's Killer Plants, Aerial Views, Horses

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(Florence, Oregon) – At one point, near that mysterious boundary between central Oregon coast and south Oregon coast, Highway 101 becomes much more chock full of attractions than you realize. Trails, horses, wilderness lakes, campgrounds, some particularly strange creatures that pose as plants and extensive ocean panoramas occupy this sublime chunk of highway just north of Florence. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection: a ways above the beach, north of Florence)

At the crest of this highway there's a couple of secret spots, mentioned in this piece about the northern Florence area When Views Explode on Oregon Coast: that Bend Above Baker Beach, Florence. A little bit lower than the top of that hill, heading into the central Oregon coast town, this bend in Highway 101 allows you a few brief pullouts and more spots to snap the eye-candy of the dunes and Baker Beach.

Many of your pics will look aerial, as if you're flying above or using a drone. The bends here provide amazing sights on a regular basis as you descend towards town.

The lakes of Alder Dune Campground come into view as well.

Nearby is what has been called the Horse Coast Trail System, but it's actually known as the Cape Mountain Trail system. The point here is traipsing up to Cape Mountain, which lies some three miles up and to the east of Highway 101. Take Herman Peak Rd. and there’s about 17 miles of trails awaiting you – on foot or on your horse. The trailhead lies almost three miles up, then giving way to trails that lead you through lush forests, large meadows, huge ocean vistas, and even a replica of an old Indian shelter.

Horse stables around provide means to grab a beautiful ride. See the Florence Visitor's site for lists.

Broad mountain meadows abound here, often with views of the Oregon coastline. It's sometimes like a mix of Sound of Music with some surfin' flick. The hills are alive with the sound of quickly-strummed guitar chords. Julie Andrews hangs out with Dick Dale.

Silly metaphors aside, the views are achingly gorgeous. Among the easiest of the trails is the Princess Tasha Trail (only a third of a mile). The trails welcome mountain bikers as well, and it's said you'll rarely bump into others up here. Trailheads vary (see the Siuslaw National Forest page).

You can also take Forest Road #58 (about 10 miles north of Florence) eastward to some trailheads, and the Horse Creek Campground resides there.

The most interesting, however, is the weird Oregon coast attraction of the Darlingtonia Wayside. Insect-chomping plants occupy this lovely place of deep greens. The California Pitcher plant lives between here and Cali.

Courtesy Oregon State Parks

If you happen to catch one in action it's slow-motion freakiness. These cobra-shaped plants simply sit around waiting for bugs. With their sticky parts, bugs get stuck, slowly conveyor-belted in and then digested. Insects get lured by the colors and smells that attract them, and they soon find themselves confused by clear areas that look like exits, only to get sucked in further and eventually meet their doom.

It'll have you humming the old Genesis song about killer plants in no time.

Picnic tables abound here, and this rainforest-like park features a wooden walkway which keeps you elevated and away from the protein-hungry plants. The wayside is free and you’ll find it just off 101, near Mercer Rd.

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