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At Seal Rock's NW Curtis St.: Funky Little Oregon Coast Access with No Name

Published 09/21/23 at 6:37 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Funky Little Central Oregon Coast Spot with No Name: Seal Rock's NW Curtis St. Access

(Seal Rock, Oregon) – Not quite a mile north of Seal Rock State Park, in a kind of lost, maybe even confusing section of central Oregon coast, things get forest-like. The beach disappears behind thick trees. You're nearing Seal Rock as you round that bend southward where Ona Beach pops up. You've just crossed that bridge. Yet you're not sure where you are just yet. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection: above, a large ghost forest stump with Seal Rock firing off in the background)

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Then, quite suddenly, the view explodes in front of you: a host of waves and the shoreline returns right after MP 150. Yet if you blink, you'll miss it. In fact, a lot of people are still in passing mode as they zip along here because that's where the passing lanes are.

A tiny beach access is off to the westward side. No sign, and often no people: there's just a street sign saying NW Curtis St. (all of it not far from Newport, Yachats or Waldport).

It's a tiny beach access with officially no name – just the moniker of that street. There's room for less than ten cars in this little parking spot. Even less, if there's a couple trucks or RV's. Yet the Curtis St. access has a lot more to it, depending on the season.

Summertime brings the high sands and a larger beach, bringing lots to play on. From here, if hiking is your thang, it's about a half mile to the rocky labyrinth and gigantic shapes of Seal Rock (or Seal Rocks as they're known collectively), and perhaps another half mile to the north to Ona Beach and the rather sizable Beaver Creek.

In this season, fall or most of spring, the beach is wide enough to make it easily to these other Oregon coast landmarks. In winter, it may not be. All of the beach surrounding the access has soft, sandstone cliffs towering above it, which leaves no wiggle room if the tides are unruly. There's no escaping sneaker waves or such, and in winter this beach shortens considerably. One section to the north isn't always traversable.

Still, when sand levels drop, that's when this beach really shines. Beneath the sands, hiding all the time, are some of the older ghost forests of the Oregon coast. These are 4,000 years old, like those that emerge just south of here at Tillicum Beach and around the Newport area.

These rarely come out, too. It's not every year they show themselves, so if you spot this especially ragged, even spooky-looking set of ancient stumps know that you're looking at something special.

And no, ghost forests on Oregon coast beaches did not come from the 1700 mega-quake. Explanations of Ghost Forests Wrong, Say Oregon Coast Geologists

The NW Curtis St. access also shines when it comes to agate hunting. In winter, gravel beds and / or bedrock like to show themselves, and when they do that's when the colorful little nuggets are plentiful. To avid agate hunters along the Oregon coast, the place is no secret. If those beds pop up, there are people here hunting and picking.

One of the other interesting aspects of this lovely beach is that you can see the other side of Seal Rock State Park from here – a side and set of shapes not normally seen by the usual Oregon coast fanboys and fangirls. Even more special is when you can raucous waves firing off in the distance, making for wild displays that you can't always see from the park itself.

Seal Rock and the NW Curtis St. access is about six miles south of Newport and ten miles north of Waldport. There are no restroom facilities: the closest are at Seal Rock or Ona Beach.

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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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