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Symons State Scenic Viewpoint, N. Oregon Coast: Oceanside's Secret in Plain Sight

Published 01/11/21 at 7:56 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Symons State Scenic Viewpoint on N. Oregon Coast: Oceanside's Secret in Plain Sight

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(Oceanside, Oregon) – Like the “little engine that could,” there's one little viewpoint tucked away on the north Oregon coast that can and does – and keeps on doing so. Minuscule Symons State Scenic Viewpoint at Oceanside just keeps on giving – giving out incredible views. And yet most driving through the tiny town in Tillamook County essentially whiz past it and head straight for the beach accesses.

So by default, Symons State Scenic Viewpoint becomes a kind of secret hiding in plain sight. People are just too busy to bother.

It doesn't help that it's simply a gravel pullout at one of those white-knuckled twists in the road coming from Netarts, so everyone is truly paying attention to their driving. Then, it's right across the street from some sort of town water facility, which makes it a bit easier to overlook.

Yet it's a small place of big beauty, with gorgeous views of Oceanside, Maxwell Point, the sands below and the attractions to the south. From here, Cape Lookout juts out into the ocean and interrupts the seascape, sometimes with dazzling qualities like a giant cloud enveloping it (see why “headlands wear a hat”).


In fact, somewhat weirdly, it's a small state park – perhaps the smallest in all of Oregon, but certainly along the coast.

Symons is also a place of big Oregon coast skies. Photographing the Three Arch Rocks in the distance from here gives you a unique angle, especially if the sun is kind of winding down the day. The Great Orb is often well to the south, keeping sand, sea and rock structures well and evenly illuminated. It's not hard to get a good photo here. Also, this slightly elevated viewpoint lets you take in the beach and whatever the sky is doing with compositional ease. For more amateur photogs it's good for the ego.

Shooting to the south, however, is a bit more difficult. The sun tends to get in the way there.

Symons State Scenic Viewpoint is really supposed to be just that: an overlook. There's a chunk of the cliff that fell away here years ago; the resulting debris at the bottom was rather interesting before it was washed out. This leaves a massive dent, and some are able to amble down it onto the beach. Yet this is not advisable, as that chunk is definitely too steep and the risk of injury is increased. If you're tempted – don't. Just don't. Besides, doing so adds to the geologic instability of the weak spot and you could loosen things up enough that the next person gets injured here.

Instead, take in the scenery and take the selfies. It's a good, safe place to watch Oregon coast storms kick the beaches around. Those magnificent Three Arch Rocks (see the Oceanside connection to President Roosevelt) dominate the scenery with grandness, and they seem more a part of Maxwell Point than ever.

In the end, Symons State Scenic Viewpoint is really a place where the scenery makes a scene: a loud, boisterous visual outburst of wildly diverse layers.

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