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Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures on Oregon Coast: Stumble Upon the Rugged, Pristine

Published 04/02/23 at 6:25 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Short Beach near Oceanside: Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures on Oregon Coast: Stumble Upon the Rugged, Pristine

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(Oregon Coast) – Sometimes, the road less traveled is the only way to go. In fact, when it comes to the Oregon coastline and its 362 miles of pristine beaches and dizzying viewpoints, you really should be finding something new every time you're out here. (Above: Short Beach, photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

The best way to do that? Just drive around and randomly hit little beach accesses or roads you've never seen before. Or take these four as an example.

Short Beach, by Oceanside

One of the state's most enthralling and yet unknown spots lies right next to Oceanside, just west of Tillamook. Short Beach is the moniker given to this little oddity along the back road between Oceanside and Cape Meares, where you first descend a rather long set of steps, nicknamed “stairway of 1000 steps” with very little exaggeration. It's a whopper.

Then, you'll find the bulbous blob at the tideline, resembling the sea stack at Neskowin to the south. Wander here a bit longer, and you may see the waterfall coming from the side of the cliff which hosts the lighthouse. Legends abound here. It's said that at extreme low tides, there is yet another tunnel visible (like the one through the cliff in Oceanside). One version of the legend says there may be two tunnels here. Hotels in Three Capes - Where to eat - Three Capes Maps and Virtual Tours

Winema Beach

Between Neskowin and Pacific City is a sort of no-man's land of gargantuan hills that cover the view of the ocean, dotted by large, swanky homes. Keep your eye out for the tiny sign pointing to Winema Road (blink and you'll miss it) and discover one of the Oregon coast's more remarkable hidden spots. A gravel road takes you down to a sandy parking lot with just a few parking places- but usually that's all you need here.

To the south, it's a little more than two miles of a walk to the quaint village and intriguing sands of Neskowin.

To the north, it's almost a mile of wonders, as you stroll past the sizable sea stack at the tideline, which in itself is a complex dollop of rock. It also resembles a mini version of Pacific City's Haystack Rock just to the north.

Along the way, enjoy the small cracks and crags in the cliffs, which seem to scream for exploration. Sea caves and funky crevices are created by boulders or chunks of rock leaning against something else.

At the very northern end, Winema Beach stops at the southern side of the Nestucca Bay, populated by enormous logs, wacky structures that people have made out of them, and a tideline that's a slightly unusual shape at times. Hotels in Lincoln City / Neskowin - Where to eat - Lincoln City Maps and Virtual Tours

Wander the Wonders of Yachats

Imagine walking on a shoreline of black, rocky slabs with waves exploding just a ways away, tidepools full of entire colonies of colorful creatures all around you, and a load of wild, craggy, nearly mind-bending shapes at almost every step.

This is typical of the myriad of surprises you'll find in Yachats and the beaches just south of town. Up against the bay, at the mouth of the Yachats River, lies the paved parking lot and beach access of the Yachats Recreation Area. You'll find a set of steps built upon the black basalt that lead down to the raging surf.


Walk down to the rocky beach from there. Even better: grab a bit of lunch to go and munch while the ocean flails and crashes in front of you. The seagulls here have caught on to that and quickly swarm to beg for food. However, do not feed them – human food is incredibly bad for them.

At the northern end of town, there's the 804 Trail, which is a mile-long paved path running next to this jagged, alien-looking and always spectacular shoreline. Along this route, there's at least one spouting horn (depending on conditions) – an amazing Oregon coast feature where ocean gets squeezed through rock crevices and then shoots up high into the air. Hotels in Yachats - Where to eat - Yachats Maps and Virtual Tours

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

Lone Ranch Beach, photo Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Some 12 miles of south Oregon coast wonders exist under the banner of Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, with dozens of attractions, pocket beaches, coves and soaring viewpoints all crammed into this mammoth attraction. There's no continuous stretch like this on the coastline and none as long. It starts just north of Brookings.

There are names like China Beach, House Rock Viewpoint, Whaleshead Beach, Secret Beach or Natural Bridge – all giving rise to curiosity. And rightly so. Each has a wildly distinctive set of features, like a bridge made of rock, a bundle of scenic blobs at the tideline or large rock structures with gaping holes or other oddball shapes.

Many of these places are hidden from the throngs, largely because there simply isn't as much traffic down south as many other areas. At Lone Ranch Beach, for instance, you'll largely find yourself alone indeed. Lone Ranch is where bright colors meet drab but stark shapes of ancient rocks, and where lush grassland meets the seashore.

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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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