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Humbug Mountain and State Park on South Oregon Coast: Varied, Intricate Attractions

Published 12/26/21 at 6:02 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Humbug Mountain and State Park on South Oregon Coast: Varied, Intricate Attractions

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(Port Orford, Oregon) – Near Port Orford, and not too exceptionally far from Gold Beach, there's a massive south coast wonder that looms big but provides even more than meets eye. Humbug Mountain and its surrounding Humbug Mountain State Park are a treasure trove of wilderness, trails, and cloistered beaches. Just one spot creates days' worth of exploration. (Above photo and those below courtesy  Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

A towering figure above the southern Oregon coast, it's a 5.5-mile trek to the top and back of this heap of ancient material, millions and millions of years old. It's covered in thick, old-growth forest that provides magnificent atmosphere and striking sights at every turn, where moss-covered trunks and limbs can be bent into wild shapes, or large ferns along the trail make for a hefty Jurassic Park feel at times.

Along the way, catch openings in the trees which make for soaring viewpoints, and you're snagging aerial glimpses of a snaking shoreline, and at times even Port Orford itself.

Manuela Durson Fine Arts

Yet the real attractions are the beaches here: long, wide, flat stretches of sand in various degrees of roughness, from soft to agate-laden gravel beds and beyond. All part of Humbug Mountain State Park, the farther north you go the more varied the landscape, where small promontories and outcroppings jut into the sea, creating more curves to this expansive yet intricate place. Stony spots begin to appear, and you're walking over boulder-like material, which is difficult to tread. There's plenty of dramatic rocky blobs just offshore to gawk at. The cliffs are vibrant and full of color in spots, along with fascinating geologic textures and lines.

Above this crescent-like curve, there are viewing areas and pullouts, perfect for checking the crazed winter storm action on this part of the south Oregon coast. Those plops and spires a ways away take a beating, but the wave action is spectacular. It's the same with the double-headed point of Humbug, where monsters of the ocean can put on a show even closer.

Manuela Durson Fine Arts

Humbug Mountain State Park features dozens of campsites, and firewood is even for sale. With that area protected by hills surrounding them closely, you're apt to encounter some of the warmest weather in the region, augmented by the Chetco Effect that brings in California-like temps at times. There's nearly 2,000 acres to this beauty, making it one of the largest parks in the region, but at over 1700 feet high it's the highest point directly over the Oregon coast's waters as well.

For a time, Humbug Mountain was called Sugarloaf Mountain, and before that the First Peoples called it Me-tus. In the 1850s, Captain William Tichenor (founder of Port Orford) got lost in this stretch, and it was briefly called Tichenor's Humbug Mountain in a bit of mockery. It was soon changed to Humbug.

To the south, along Highway 101, the shoreline disappears as you round the backside, and you don't see it again for almost three miles. Instead, you're again zooming along through thick forest that feels primeval: it's untouched, raw and soaring. However, you will find at least one turnoff to restrooms about halfway through. Then, suddenly the world opens up again and a nifty gravel pullout appears, allowing expansive views. As Lewis & Clark once said: Ocean in View. O, the Joy.

From here for a few more miles, it's all plunging cliffs and no beach accesses, until you reach Arizona State Recreation Site and the Prehistoric Gardens. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Photos below courtesy Oregon State Parks

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