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A Favorite Oregon Coast Landmark: Short Sand Beach, at Oswald West State Park

Published 08/23/2011

A Favorite Oregon Coast Landmark: Short Sand Beach, at Oswald West State Park

(Manzanita, Oregon) – In the middle of Oswald West State Park, lying between Cannon Beach and the sleepy burgh of Manzanita, Short Sand Beach sits tucked away behind a thick canopy of trees and snugly between two massive rocky promontories. It’s a favorite for surfers, but also the hub for a variety of recreational activities and scenic wonders that stretch for miles and miles.

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Short Sand Beach is found by first parking in one of a handful of large lots in the midst of Oswald, then trudging a trail past soaring trees, babbling brooks and crystalline streams, and eventually coming to a suspension bridge that is a bit like a thrill ride: it feels perilously rickety if you’re not used to such things. But it, too, is a favorite attraction here on the north Oregon coast.

Once down on the beach, you’ll find it either devoid of people or packed with throngs – there seems little middle ground many times of the year. But in winter you often can’t even step down here, as the waves are waging war against the beach by slamming it with large logs and other debris.

Short Sand also goes by the name Smuggler’s Cove - because of a history of bootlegging in the area.

Portland resident Kara Stubbs considers the spot her favorite.

“I love how you walk down that path through all that old growth forest,” Stubbs said. “It’s also a great spot for beginner surfers.”

However, Stubbs added, as an avid skateboarder as well she often prefers to hit Lincoln City for its skate park, which is fairly well renowned around the world.

The pathway down to the beach also features some intriguing wonders in the realm of trees with openings – lighting up the imagination to a world of gnomes and fairies and such.

Once down on the beach, you’ll notice the rock walls surrounding it covered in a variety of odd markings, showing various kinds of geologic activity.

The area is full of some magnificent trails, all within the  boundaries of Oswald State Park. Some go darting off into the craggy surfaces of the top of the cape, while others head to beaches or viewpoints.

The shortest trail is about a half mile to Short Sand itself, with only a 100-foot elevation gain.

The Cape Falcon trail is a moderate hike that is five miles roundtrip and is about 300 feet in elevation gain. It takes about two and a half hours and winds you up and around the cape and a myriad of viewpoints – all of which are breathtaking.

For those who really want to get their hike on, there’s an eight-mile trail that takes you all the way to Arch Cape – which includes a suspension bridge when you get to Arch Cape.

At right: Devil's Cauldron.

Just north of the Neahkahnie Overlooks, and just a tad south of the entrance to Oswald West, there’s a gravel parking lot overlooking Smuggler’s Cove. From here, there’s a half-mile trail descending the thick brush going into Short Sand Beach. You can also wander towards some wild and strange cliffs that include a tiny cove enveloped by a rock structure that’s so small in diameter and yet tall it’s almost like a tube (it's called Devil's Cauldron). Just offshore is the curious Cube Rock and then Pulpit Rock – both of which look a little like remnants of some grand ancient civilization. Lodging in Manzanita, Wheeler - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours



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