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Myriad WTH Moments Lurking at N. Oregon Coast's Manzanita

Published 03/02/22 at 6:42 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Myriad WTH Moments Lurking at N. Oregon Coast's Manzanita

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – A gargantuan bay full of water sports possibilities, a towering mountain steeped in mysteries, miles and miles of immaculate sands, and a bundle of other natural attractions that defy categorization. Manzanita has a unique set of finds for the visitor, and multiple layers to explore – besides simply being a comely, cozy, out-of-the-way little burgh. It's one non-stop tour of natural beauty. Not to mention, the tiny town itself manages to boast a large helping of culinary, lodging and shopping opportunities. All of these attractive amenities are just a short walk from the beach, should the weather turn on you. (Above: Cube Rock)

This tiny town on the north Oregon coast is an especially engaging one, with loads of surprises lurking in its various corners. With a little wandering, it's a place that will have you muttering "what the hell?" on a regular basis.

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Ancient legends of crashed sailing ships and rumors of hidden treasure mix with murky fir trees and a rugged kind of hipness. Manzanita's architecture is almost urban in moments yet definitely woodsy and beachy overall, creating an incomparable atmosphere among coastal towns. In the end, it's simply really laid back but full of nooks and crannies to explore, both geographically and culturally.

The beach begins at the end of Laneda Ave., but another road runs along side the shore from that elbow until it dead-ends in the tree-smothered neighborhoods beneath Highway 101 and looming Neahkahnie Mountain. Yet the place is not as canopied as it once was. The freak tornado that came ashore in 2016 took out about a third of the town's trees.

On the way, access to the sand is easy, with just a few steps down sandy or slightly stairway-implanted passages to this endlessly fascinating beach. It is nothing but sand here, until you reach the bottom of towering Neahkahnie Mountain. During the summer, sand can pile especially high and create distinctive patterns, especially giant gaps between the piles (which in turn can produce somewhat dangerous drops within the tideline).

Above, on the highway, there are incredible viewpoints overlooking the ocean, Manzanita and even glimpses of Nehalem Bay. The Neahkahnie Viewpoints are some of the most legendary on the entire Oregon coast. Just around the corner (just north of these viewpoints), you'll find more lookouts, where from a distance you can watch mighty breakers slam into the rugged, ancient basalt headland of Cape Falcon at Short Sand Beach (photo below).

Here, near the trailhead to Neahkahnie Mountain's hiking trails, the pullout is a gravel one. Wander down these wild, grassy and often overgrown slopes and you'll discover wowingly strange structures like Cube Rock, the basalt monstrosity the juts up from the ocean in a single column-like shape. It looks as if it was built by a race of giants.

Keep going down the Cape Falcon trail here and you'll spot other curiosities like the Devil's Cauldron (pictured above) or Pulpit Rock.

The Nehalem Spit runs for a couple miles to the south of the town itself, with entrances at one hidden end of Manzanita and then a mile away - just outside of the tiny town of Nehalem. Wandering along the spit will send you out of civilization's gaze soon, and eventually all you'll encounter will be truly wild wildlife.

Want to go higher? Take that hike up ol' Neahkahnie and wander some 1600 feet up the trail from 101 to the top of Neahkahnie to catch unforgettable views. Along the way, little viewpoints and benches let you ogle the increasingly aerial angles on the Pacific.

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