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Cape Kiwanda's Killer Views and Hues to Strange Sounds Atop Oregon Coast Landmark

Published 01/08/23 at 5:39 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cape Kiwanda's Killer Views and Hues to Strange Sounds Atop Oregon Coast Landmark

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(Pacific City, Oregon) – As you round one bend of Highway 101, not long after the central coast became the north Oregon coast, and signs are starting to point to Pacific City and / or continuing along Highway 101 to Tillamook, things suddenly feel different. In fact, at one point you seem to see a giant rock of some sort looking as if it's floating in the air, just beyond a line of trees. Whoops, be careful: it makes you want to stare too long but you're driving and the road gets a little tricky here. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

That thing floating in the air is Haystack Rock – the second of three along the Oregon coast. This one hangs out next to Cape Kiwanda, and that brief glimpse across the marshland and trees is your sort of preview to a rugged, craggly attraction, full of as many nooks and crannies to explore as Haystack has crinkles even at this distance. Kiwanda is complex.

Jutting out from the beach in front of Pacific City, this comparatively small headland is a land loaded with secrets. Its golden, wind chiseled features are downright alien in many spots. Perhaps Star Trek: Discovery needs to actually film out here, on the coastline it mentioned in last season's finale. The place gives way to one wild real discovery after another.

You initially tread up a fairly steep incline of about thirty feet of loose sand that makes that climb harder. It's a grind and leg cramp-inducer, but at its top lay an abundance of treasures. It starts with the viewpoints on the southern side you've just entered, with the beachfront spreading out forever to the south. Various browns, yellows and shades of gold dot the landscape in increasingly stranger forms up here, including some of the wild delights and otherworldly places that are hidden and take some exploring to find.

Kiwanda is eroding, however. This sight, taken some 22 years ago, no longer exists

Just below this main part of the headland there's a small cove with some odd surprises, including a small but long crack that occasionally spurts up ocean water out of nowhere.

Meander further to the north and you'll find a host of viewpoints where you can see the irregular shapes and colors of the features where you've just been. There are other, numerous coves in view here, where enormous waves slam against the gargantuan, golden structures with dramatic intensity no matter what the weather. This is a preview to something insane.

Take a look farther up and there's always the top of the enormous dune that hovers of the eastern portion of Cape Kiwanda, where kids of all ages enjoy running up to the top and then sliding down on boards, sleds or even tumbling down with just their bodies. That's rather amusing to watch.

There's also odd sounds that can happen up here - likely coming from the fencing with its hollow tubes and holes. The wind causes a great whirring / whistling noise: apparently the holes act like a flute. Yet the sound is strangely akin to the singing sands phenomenon, so Oregon Coast Beach Connection is not ruling that out either.

For a truly memorable treat, head down the road a mile to an unmarked little road that darts off into the forest above the beach. This is McPhillips Beach – named for the man who sold the land to the state in the '70s, and then gave away the rest to them. He's largely responsible for this Oregon coast treasure being in the public domain (believe it or not he nearly sold it to a group wanting to put a nuclear power plant here).

From here, it's almost a mile southward back to Cape Kiwanda, and this is where it gets amazing. There's a kind of oceanic canyon here. Those rocky islands separated from the larger Cape Kiwanda are seen closer at this spot, and you can watch the ocean batter and rage against them, slowly eating away.

Indeed, another chunk of rock fell off this structure a couple of years ago, creating more boulders that in term make a kind of impromptu dam, allowing you to get closer and check out the tidal craziness that happens here.

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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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