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Ocean Beach Picnic Area: Serene Overlooked Wonder on Central Oregon Coast

Published 04/23/2020 at 6:54 PM PDT - Published 04/23/2020 at 6:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Ocean Beach Picnic Area an Overlooked Wonder on Central Oregon Coast

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(Florence, Oregon) - During this unusual and painful period that the beaches are closed, Oregon Coast Beach Connection is still providing information about the coast and artcles / images that serve as distraction or useful in the future. That sort of overlooked netherworld between Florence and Yachats winds up some of the least occupied of stretches of Oregon coast, with seemingly little going on at first glance as you zip down the highway and around various bends. Beach accesses appear to be few and far between, there’s a few ocean vistas that pop out and there’s little traffic. Otherwise, it seems as if it’s simply a pleasant drive along some 20 miles or so between those two towns. It’s almost desolate.

Yet this part of upper Lane County is actually some of the richest in diversions and attractions, but they’re little known. Among them are the varied wonders of Ocean Beach Picnic Area, about halfway between Yachats and Florence.

It’s a quaint hidden spot hiding in plain sight, actually. Often overlooked because of its size and because there’s a small sign pointing to a rather indistinct road, it’s well worth inspection. Take this tiny but steep little driveway down to the grassy area (which you mostly can’t see from the highway), and you’ll discover a decent sized parking lot with restroom facilities and a couple of picnic tables. Perhaps picnicking isn’t the big pastime here.

All of it sits above a lovely view of the sandy beach, with the most salient feature that giant, bubble-shaped headland with a big dent in it. This almost looks like a cave (it sits right about MP 174). However, the whole area is a kind of a tease when it comes to that: there are numerous little cave-like structures up and down this stretch but they never really qualify. Sadly, no hidden treasure.

Entrance to Ocean Beach Picnic Area is via a concrete stairway that these days now appears quite sturdy. That wasn’t always the case. For awhile in the early 2000s there was no actual walkway down: it had been shredded by some winter storm. At some point, someone strung a rope from the fence to allow access from the sheer dropoff, letting you rappel down. That wasn’t useful for everyone, however. By the late 2000s it was repaired and this one looks as it may last.

That southern tip has its moods and anger issues. Depending on the tides, you simply can’t get down around the point. Other more raucous conditions cause ocean water to fire up in the air at the tip, and during storms it’s undoubtedly a good show. Many times, especially during summer’s higher sand levels, you can walk easily around the tip, while year-round there are interesting colonies of sea life. Deep tidepools develop here as well, showing off intriguing colors.

Heading south you enter Roosevelt Beach and the creek access that leads to Rock Creek Campground. You’ll notice the other side of this headland is a kind of mirror image: it too has a similar dent as the side facing north.

Head northward along the cliffs of Ocean Beach Picnic Area and you run into interesting shapes and colors these soft chunks of ground / rock present. Then basalt blobs start to appear about an eighth of a mile down, including some that host more sea life colonies.

One them looks like a big ramp going nowhere, stuck right at the tideline.

This entire section of Ocean Beach Picnic Area dead-ends as the shoreline juts westward into the ocean, and cliffs and rock structures block walking any further north.

This US Forest Service-run spot has a bit of cult following on the Oregon coast: it’s not very well known. It’s the only beach access northward until you get to Tokatee Klootchman State Natural Site about a mile up the road (and even Tokatee is not an easy access point). Another mile north of that is Stonefield Beach, which is a wondrous spot all its own.

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