Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
A Raucous Time In Nature On Oregon's Coast
(Oregon Coast) - Outdoor activities really begin to come to life in Oregon in the spring and summer – especially on the coast. From hiking and unusual walking opportunities, to water sports of different kinds and a variety of other wacky hybrid activities, the coast isn’t your average destination for the outdoorsy types.
Kayakers and boaters hit the lakes around the National Dunes Recreation Area in great numbers, where 40 miles of enormous dunes are interrupted by pristine, spectacular freshwater lakes. There's Devil's Lake in Lincoln City, where water skiing and other marine sports become de rigueur, while kayaks flood the waters of the Nehalem Bay and its hidden waterways and marshes. There are also the opportunities for kayaking along the sea in some areas and checking out sea caves and monumental cliffs up close.
There are some unusual hybrid sports emerging these days. There's surf kayaking, for instance, which is a combination of both those activities. It’s an odd one, where a kayak is used a little bit like a surfboard, just hovering in the waves as it bobs in out of the breakers. The participant faces the incoming waves, consistently paddling into them, and if it’s done right, you’re suspended in the midst of the breakers.
Although still in the infant stages, sand boarding is becoming increasingly popular on sand dune areas like the National Dunes Recreation Area near Florence. It's largely a homemade thing still, where snowboards are waxed a certain way and then rode down the towering dunes for a thrilling ride. The sport has just arrived at the gigantic structure called Cape Kiwanda, in Pacific City, where the towering dune gets turned into a makeshift snowboarding area. At Cape Kiwanda RV Resort and Marketplace, you can rent these boards – made by a firm in Florence.
Surfing remains the most visible activity at various spots, but it only increases in popularity as the kids get out of school. Seaside's cove area, on the south end of town, is hugely popular. Other hotspots include the crescent-shaped beaches at Oswald West State Park, Crescent Beach in Cannon Beach, the south side of the Devil's Punchbowl at Otter Crest, Oceanside and parts of northern Newport around Agate Beach.
Still, winter and late fall surfing is immensely popular and getting more so because of the bigger waves at that time of year. Also, there are less people on the beaches.
Hang gliding is a favorite on the coast, with its many winds zipping around and high places from which to launch. Oceanside, a spot just north of Cape Kiwanda, another just south of Tillamook Bay and some spots around northern Newport are common places to see these great, silent birds of beauty and grace.
Other oddball hybrid outdoor activities are gaining in popularity, such as that unique combo of kiting and biking, where a custom bicycle is fitted for being propelled by a massive kite along the sand.
Kiteboarding is also gaining in popularity on the beaches of Oregon, partially because of its large presence in the Columbia Gorge.
Hiking is something you can't miss around here. At Heceta Head, just north of Florence, the trails meander in back of the lighthouse on their way to "Hobbit Beach" a mile and a half from here. Along the way are some stunning viewpoints.
Cape Perpetua features several trails zigzagging their way around the 900-foot mini-mountain. There's the easy trail from the visitors center down to Cook's Chasm, the one-mile trek to the 400-year-old giant spruce, and the mile-and-a-half trail that wanders up the mountain to the 700-ft level, to the stone shelter and its insane, panoramic views.
In Newport, there's the mesmerizing half-mile trail above Yaquina Head, with several switchbacks taking you up to Salal Hill and some funky finds awaiting the explorer.
On the north Oregon coast, Cape Lookout features three dizzyingly beautiful hikes. One zips to the end of the cape in a five-mile loop, with astounding viewpoints along the way. Another wiggles its way two miles down to the secret cove, with its wild, weird black sands. From there you can hike another four miles along seriously untouched sands to the Sand Lake Recreation Area, where ATV'ers go bonkers in this place nicknamed "the other Sand Dunes of the Oregon Coast."
If things are a little on the cool side and you're looking for some exercise to warm you, the three-mile roundtrip trail to the 1600-ft. top of Neahkahnie Mountain can't be beat for incredible views. From there, you can see the Pacific, Neahkahnie Bay and Manzanita in all their glory. Not quite halfway up, you find the forest opening up and incredible vistas jump out at you. A little ways further up, you'll find a bench or two in front of these viewing points, allowing you to sit back, relax and become overwhelmed by the beauty, with just a hint of the sound of the surf lulling you from a distance.
The Neahkahnie trailhead lies off a gravel road marked on Highway 101 by hiker signs. The road sits about a mile north of Manzanita, and the trailhead is marked by a gray post.