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N. Oregon Coast's Hug Point Has Its Ancient, Millions-of-Years-Old Secrets

Published 2/21/24 at 2:55 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) - Just a few short miles south of Cannon Beach you'll bump into Hug Point, one of the Oregon coast's more outstanding state parks. There's a waterfall here, a sea cave or two, and sometimes a headscratching tidepool that's slightly raised above the ground inside a large indent. All of this is just the beginning of a fascinating spot that, it turns out, has ancient secrets.

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Really ancient.

The rock structures comprising much of this north Oregon coast hotspot are around 18 million years old – chunks of rock with wowing stories to tell. See more about the Astoria Formation

The highlight is, of course, that old road going around the point. It's not always accessible, but when it is it's intriguing and a hoot. (Road Carved Out of Rock)

One of its main attractions are the old ruts you can see, dug into the rock by years of horse 'n buggies and rickety Model T's crossing over the manmade pass.

As you first enter this Oregon coast favorite, you'll spot the waterfall immediately to the south of you and a large sea cave. Inside that crusty indent it's mostly debris and cobblestones, but there are strangely shaped cracks and shapes meandering into its far end. You can wander a little ways inside, and if you look closely you may spot one of the creepy, alien-looking insects that inhabit the large cracks.

The bigger sea cave is a wilder one, with alll sorts of extraordinary colors frozen in time in its walls. Then, there's gigantic objects crammed into this ancient “room” - a show of strength by the ocean when it's in a tempestuous mood. Hug Point Walk Tour

Getting around the first point isn't always possible as tidal conditions have a mind of their own, so Hug Point itself may be cut off during your visit. Shoot for calmer days and lower tides when you visit.

N. Oregon Coast's Hug Point Has Its Ancient, Millions-of-Years-Old Secrets

On the southern end of this beach there's a point that's normally not crossable unless the tide is sufficiently low enough. In such a case, you'll find another cove and another sea cave. There are more rock slabs to play around on, many of which are surrounded by rich tidepools.

If winter sands get scoured out enough by storms, you may spot the ancient ghost forests here: stumps some 4,000 years old. Hug Point Geologic Oddities, Layers, Walk Tour

That not old enough for you? It turns out there are small bits of petrified wood embedded in Hug Point in a few spots (we're not telling where because it's illegal to dig any fossil out). As this sandstone structure was created ages ago (likely this area was under water then), some bits of wood were lying around that had holes bored into it by various creatures. Those holes filled with sand, and as the greater structure hardened into sandstone this little object was hardened as well. New Oregon Coast Mysteries, Discoveries at Hug Point Go Back Millions of Years

Even freakier are the red towers: bizarre little structures a foot or two high, which only appear briefly is sand conditions allow in winter. These are like twisted, surreal chunks of wood or rock: but they're not made of that.

Indeed, they are simple concretions of sand, iron and other stuff, which have been down there this whole time.

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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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