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Otter Crest Loop, Oregon Coast - Complete Guide, Hiking, History, Sights

Published 01/13/2019 at 6:23 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Otter Crest Loop, Oregon Coast - Complete Guide, Hiking, History, Sights

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(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – Two miles of hidden viewpoints and secret spots, a roadway full of nothing but eye-popping sights and an exceptionally pleasant and resplendent central Oregon coast forest: this is Otter Crest Loop Road. Perhaps the most dramatic drive along the entire coastline, there is much packed into this tiny stretch, which in itself is a bit on the clandestine side.

One of the more mysterious roadways of the Oregon coast, Otter Crest Loop Road sits tucked away behind and beneath the soaring section of Highway 101 between Depoe Bay and Newport. Besides being a consistent giver of scenic eye candy, this striking place has a fun and interesting history.

Hence this complete guide to Otter Crest Loop Road, a stop-by-stop look that also includes some hiking and biking information.

The fun really begins almost immediately after Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint – really just a few hundred feet away. 101 twists around tight corners between Depoe Bay and Newport. Here, the highway rises suddenly as you head south, but off to the right there’s a mysterious little road junction. If you don’t take it, you’re missing out.

This is Roadea Point, one of the area’s great pleasures. And the start to Otter Crest Loop. This is yet another remarkable chunk of rocky shoreline in the Depoe Bay area where things explode more often than not. Not well marked, Rodea Point is basically an informal viewpoint where a gravel pullout allows the traveler more incredible views.

And sounds. Large waves crash with quite the boom in this spot.

Ben Jones Bridge (Rocky Creek Bridge). A mere 100 feet after Rodea Point you’ll bump into the Rocky Creek Bridge – also known as the Ben Jones Bridge. It was built in 1927 and stands at MP 130.03. There’s a mini-turnout here to watch the surf go bonkers – and it does.

There are no facilities here, but there’s a rounded stone wall that boasts plenty of atmosphere, but there is only parking for a handful of cars. It’s tiny but it’s wondrous.

No small irony that Ben Jones Bridge is named after the man many consider the “father of the Roosevelt Highway,” as Jones – back in the early part of the century – was one of the primary forces behind creating Highway 101.

Some History of Otter Crest Loop. The twisting, winding road was part of the first version of the highway, back in the ‘20s. But in the 1950s, the upper part of Highway 101 was built, and this was shelved. State officials actually cordoned off the road and abandoned it.

In 1956, locals protested enough that it was reopened as a scenic drive. This was, of course, when it was still a two-way road. You’ll notice quickly after the Ben Jones Bridge this becomes a one-way.

In the ‘90s, two major landslides here finally took their toll on the road, and it started to shrink considerably. The western, seaward side had retreated several feet. The second landslide caused a van to slide down the muddy sludge, and a the man and his son inside had to crawl their way back up to the road.

After that, for many years this stretch was a foot-path only, blocked off by a concrete barrier. Work was delayed on it for a long time and then proceeded slowly once it did. This was a surreal chapter in the Otter Crest Loop Road history. It didn’t take long for nature to start reclaiming that spot. By the late ‘90s, this hiking-only road became more and more covered by fir needles and drifting soil.

Finally, in the early 2000s it was reopened again, this time only big enough for one lane – and some space for bikers and hikers.

Secrets Where the One-Way Begins

A short distance after the bridge, the road begins a mystery-filled one-way. At this point, there’s a gravel pullout. Here, there’s an intense and very secret little pathway trudging down to a stunning set of cliffs. No sign or break in the guardrail announces this: you simply have to stop and look.

This takes you down through a rather mystical forest (expect to find weirdly-shaped, giant mushrooms), and then a massive ocean view explodes in front of you. It’s really quite astounding. Another cliff sits nearby, accessible by a small trail.

Do not ever take kids down here and watch the poison oak in the high grasses. Then keep far from the ledges. It’s probably secret for a reason, as it’s too dangerous for the average, careless traveler. Someone did die here in 2018.

One Magical Ride

So many more such views are available from Otter Crest Loop before you get to Cape Foulweather, albeit from the roadway (and less of a strenuous jaunt). Plunging cliffs disappear into raging surf. Dramatic ocean vistas pop out between the thick walls of soothing forest. Dazzling oceanic pyrotechnics are in abundance. Grassy greens cover the blackened basalt towers.

Every 100 to 300 feet there’s some new, amazing sight to check out. See more of Otter Crest Loop's cliffs.

Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail South of Depoe Bay

If you’re hiking the Oregon Coast Trail around Depoe Bay, all of it from about Boiler Bay through the southern edge of town is on the town’s sidewalks. After that, for the two miles between city limits and Otter Crest Loop Road, hiking means walking the dangerous highway. Here, however, the trail picks up again as a bike lane allows you a little more safety than the raging highway: at least cars are forced to move slowly here.

At the end you reach spectacular Cape Foulweather and its 500-foot vistas.

See the Depoe Bay Virtual Tour for full information, and the links included here. Even more details on the Loop and its history will be in the upcoming book, Ultimate Oregon Coast Travel: Depoe Bay. Lodgings in Depoe Bay - Where to eat

Inn at Arch Rock, Depoe Bay,   Located on bluff above the Pacific. Charming, cozy rooms for two, to spacious two-bedroom suites up to seven. 70 NW Sunset Street. Depoe Bay, Oregon. 541-765-2560 or 800-767-1835

An Ocean Paradise Whales Rendezvous, Depoe Bay.  50 feet above the waves. Private deck, private outdoor entrance. Large outdoor deck / garden area, wood fire pit, Adirondack chairs. Binoculars to watch the whales. 147 N. Highway 101. Depoe Bay 541-765-3455. Website here.

Oregon Beach Vacations in Depoe Bay.  Available in Yachats, Waldport, Newport, Nye Beach, Otter Rock, Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach, Lincoln Beach, Lincoln City, Neskowin. North coast 1-800-723-2383. see their special.html.


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