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Rock Creek to Heceta: Two Miles of Deliriously Clandestine Oregon Coast

Published 05/05/2020 at 6:54 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rock Creek to Heceta: Two Miles of Deliriously Clandestine 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. In that rather secretive region of Lane County that stretches from near Yachats down to Florence, some of the Oregon coast’s more intriguing sands lie. A tract of strands that run about two miles, from Rock Creek Campground and its diminutive layout to the northern, rather blank face of Heceta Head. Here you have Roosevelt Beach, Muriel Ponsler Memorial State Wayside, Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park and the fabled Hobbit Beach all crammed into one area. (Above: Muriel Ponsler Wayside).

It all starts on the other side of the point at Ocean Beach Picnic Area, where a bulbous blob sticking out into the sea has a giant indentation in it, and the side facing southward has it as well. They’re like a mirror image of each other – a little unusual for headlands or promontories on the Oregon coast.

Right about here you’ll find the 14 campsites of Rock Creek Campground, run by the National Forest Service. Down the creek is a beach hiding in plain sight called Roosevelt Beach. It is pretty unique along the Oregon coast in that it’s sprawling and yet a secret. No one knows about this spot, mostly because there’s only one decent of getting down there: via the campground, down the creek and under the bridge.

However, there are some hidden walkways to it through the dune grass – look for a couple of dusty patches by the side of the road (see the Upper Lane County Virtual Tour for full details on finding these). However, these paths lead to knotted, golden cliffs that are a little too high to jump off of and onto the sand – perhaps five feet or more.

The strange thing about Roosevelt Beach is that it often doesn’t exist on maps. Even on Google Maps it inexplicably comes and goes: sometimes it’s listed; sometimes not.

Like its brother immediately north, Ocean Beach Picnic Area, there’s great tidepooling here and you’re almost always completely alone. Stay clear of it during stormy weather however: it doesn’t take tides to get too high for this place to become really dangerous.

From here it’s about a mile to the next official beach access, although Big Creek may present some rather roughshod means of getting to the sands – if you can find a legal place to park. You then come to Muriel O. Ponsler and its expansive sands, which definitely have different moods depending on the time of year. Sometimes they’re piled high in wispy drifts, and in winter it can be short and gravelly. All the while, golden cliffs present a colorful walk.

Keep hiking the beach and it’s about a quarter mile before you come to sprawling Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, with its full facilities and lush forest land. There’s dozens of campsites here as well, along with two yurts. Along the highway it’s a little longer but full of gorgeous trees.

Then you come to Hobbit Beach and its weird ways (it has in the past been known for Eugene counterculture types making use of it for a nudist aesthetic). Mostly, that freaky Hobbit Trail and its crinkly, overhanging and entwined trees give you a true otherworldly sense of walking through some magical section of Middle Earth.

It’s not an easy walk – the trudge back up this sometimes tunnel-like path is harsh on the legs. On the beach, creative folk use the landscape for some creative artwork, including rocks piled in admirable ways and fascinating carvings in the cliffs.

At this point, you’ve dead-ended up against Heceta Head, but the lighthouse is not visible here. Intriguing tidepools are found and there’s a sort of cave-like structure that lurks just beyond reach in the cliff face.

For full info on these areas see the Florence Virtual Tour and the Upper Lane County Virtual Tour.

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