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Deep Dive Into a Stretch of Oregon Coast Surprises: Intricate Northern Lane County

Published 06/08/21 at 7:50 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Deep Dive Into a Stretch of Oregon Coast Surprises: Intricate Northern Lane County

(Yachats, Oregon) – A bevy of beaches and intricate cliffs along 25 miles of Oregon coast: it doesn't get much better than the top part of Lane County (Above: Bob Creek).

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It's all practically smack dab in the middle of the entire Oregon coast (although that's technically Florence). Here, Lincoln County merges imperceptibly into Lane County, along a stretch of Highway 101 filled with spots that are practically hidden and that allow you to really get away from it all when everyone else seems to be doing the same thing around you. Between Yachats and Florence, even on the very busy glory days of summer, you're likely to find yourself far away from the maddening crowds that can really cramp a good time on a day at the beach.

All of this begins at a well-populated enough area as you start to wander south of Yachats. There's that sudden rise as you enter the viewpoints and curves that were used in scenes of the Bates Motel series years ago, and you're motoring towards Cape Perpetua. Crowds still abound often enough here, where the Devil's Churn creates a constant show, as well as high above at the top of the cape, some 600 feet high.

That's all worth it, however. This stunning vantage point never ceases to take your breath away. Walk down the path to the northwest just a tad and you'll encounter the ever-graceful, atmospheric lookout shelter built way back in the ‘30s. Its history includes a lot of watching for enemy aircraft during World War II, but the purpose of the place now is pure scenic wow-inducement.

A mile down the road and you'll quickly encounter the stunning, wacky action of Cook's Chasm and its awe-inspiring spouting horn, where if conditions are right, this geologic oddity treats you to a show of spray and ocean waves firing off at a strange angle and a remarkable hissing noise. It's also the home of Thor's Well, but steer clear of that as it's a lot more dangerous than people think.

Further down Highway 101, bundles of intricate beaches beckon, like Bob Creek and its many tidepools, Neptune Beach and its varied landscapes, and then the always captivating Strawberry Hill, where you're first greeted by a rather playful triad of steps embedded into the cliffs.

This, in turn, allows you access to an entrancing beach that is a multifarious mish-mash of sand, rocks and more sand and rocks, creating a mesmerizing labyrinth of things to explore and get lost in. Some of the stranger shapes along the entire coast lurk here in the back of this mini-cove. Tidepool creatures way outnumber the humans as well.

Keep heading south and you continually rise and fall along this often-twisty road, where nameless pullout after pullout appears, each with its own store of visual treasures. Eventually, you arrive at Ocean Beach Picnic Ground, which is kind of like Lane County's version of Dr Who's TARDIS: it's a lot bigger than it looks.

This wild little beach, run by the National Forest Service rather than the state of Oregon, is instantly recognizable with that bulbous blob jutting out into the sea and a massive indentation (the other side has one as well). It's truly a picnic area here. Wander down these grasses and soon you step out onto a long stretch of sandy wonders and the occasional rocky puzzle, including a mini cave of sorts and the sundry blob. Generally, it's only birds and tidepool creatures in the area and not a single human soul.

Stick close to that entrance and the tidepools abound – usually. It depends on conditions here.

Muriel Ponsler

After that, back on 101 and heading south you quickly come to striking spots like Stonefield Beach and its prehistoric look at times (especially in winter when the sands can disappear). Farther down, you'll encounter the Hobbit Trail and its fantasy-like atmosphere or the vast sands of Muriel Ponsler Wayside. After that, it's the Heceta Head Lighthouse and you're quickly again in civilization and the world of packed parking lots.

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Murial Ponsler

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