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Roughing It on a Busy Oregon Coast: Seaside's Multiple Layers, Part III

Published 01/14/21 at 12:06 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Roughing It on a Busy Oregon Coast: Seaside's Multiple Layers, Part III

(Seaside, Oregon) - It’s no secret that Seaside is likely one of the most crowded towns during peak seasons on this vast Oregon coast – even on not-so-busy days. So finding an empty spot is a bit of an art. But they exist – and they host loads of natural wonders. The strange secret about this frenetic beach town is that its hidden beaches are really more so, because so much attention is concentrated in the main area around the Turnaround and downtown.

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There are ways to get away from it all here.

This is part 3 of the series. Multiple Layers to Seaside, Oregon Coast Go Deep, Beyond Obvious: Part I -- Seaside's Different Sides Part II: Where Oregon Coast History Meets Kooky

At the Prom’s northern edges, at 12th Ave., things become markedly more deserted. This final access gives way to a host of chunky, wispy dunes, and eventually an estuary and the mouth of the Necanicum and its slightly weird mudflats. For some reason, people tend to migrate south of this rather popular entrance, but leave the northern section alone – which is where the river mouth sits.

Walk this stretch of perhaps a quarter mile or a little more, and you’ll discover one of the more unusual spots on Oregon’s coast, albeit deceptively so. At any regular glance, it looks completely average, perhaps even slightly boring and featureless. However, it cloisters a treasure trove of unbroken sand dollars – likely the most you’ll ever find on any beach on these shores.

Reasons for this are not entirely certain, though it’s known there’s simply less people here so the goodies don’t get picked. Also there are major streams of nutrients funneled in here that feed the little critters enough so there’s bundles of them. Exactly what causes so many to wash up isn’t known, however. Why This N. Oregon Coast Spot Has So Many Sand Dollars, Brown Waves, Clams

All this depends on conditions, but it is easy to find way more of these sand dollars freshly washed up than the average beach.

Like Cannon Beach and many other beach towns, often the extreme southern and northern ends tend to be the least populated, usually because they’re farther from beach accesses or the center of activity. With Seaside, the southern end – known as the “cove” - is also a bit more unpopulated. It is, however, often a hotspot with surfers. Beachcombers don’t find it to easy to stroll on as the large stones are bulky and a little ankle-twisting, and in turn the sandy stretches there are hidden by the tide half the time.

More alone time can be found just north of the Cove, however. About Ave. U the Prom comes to its end. From here back towards downtown, that walkway is a simple concrete path that runs alongside the beach. Between Ave. E and Ave. U - the beach slowly changes from the softer sands to rocky and stone-covered, which is a little more like the entire beach of Seaside was back in the early part of the century, before the building of the jetties in Astoria. These several blocks or so tend to be even more deserted than the southern end, as nothing but summer homes and suburban neighborhoods occupy this part of the beachfront. Tourists tend not to gather here in any great numbers.

Jet down these sandy paths to the beach and you’ll almost always find less people.

Looming above it all is Tillamook Head, where a strenuous hiking trail takes you past amazing viewpoints. It’s six miles between here and Cannon Beach: all of it rugged and sometimes formidable hiking bliss. Along the way, there’s the eye-popping remnant of an old military installation, where radar once scanned the skies for invaders during World War II. There was even an entire base here, including barracks and other buildings, but almost all trace is gone.

There’s also a primitive campground along the way, and a marker for the spot Lewis & Clark stood one day in 1806 as they sauntered down to Cannon Beach to look into a beached whale.

If you know where to look, it turns out Seaside is not just the kitschy, commercialized place it’s often slapped with for a label. People often forget it’s on the beach, and then they don’t know what those beaches hold. It is possible to get away from it all, even in this nutty, frenzied beach town.

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Southern, more deserted end of Seaside

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