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Many Twists, Turns and Oregon Coast Surprises Just South of Cannon Beach

Published 09/13/21 at 5:26 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Many Twists, Turns and Oregon Coast Surprises Just South of Cannon Beach

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – For a simple four-mile stretch of Highway 101 and strands, there are heaps crammed into the area just south of Cannon Beach. It's an absorbing, sometimes head-scratching sampling of Oregon coast that can almost make for a kind of archetype for the rest of the region: showing off rugged cliffs, long tracts of soft sands, and more than a few mysteries in history and science. Scenic wonders and panoramas are mixed with eye-popping details, with two major state parks, a village and more than a few striking viewpoints.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all in this stretch of north Oregon coast is what's going on just immediately south of town. The Silver Point viewpoints are probably among the highest volume spots in the state in terms of visitors – the place where just about everyone stops as they leave Cannon Beach's city limits. Silver Point Interpretive Overlook hosts vast horizons of sea and sky, with the famed Haystack Rock and its Needles clear in the distance and even a glimpse of far away, mysterious Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

Look just below and you'll see a blob of a rock structure directly in front of one section of the paved pullouts. Then, you start to get an idea there's more happening here than meets the eye. Indeed, the beach below – accessible by walking a ways from the last streets of south Cannon Beach – is one of the more intriguing on the whole of the Oregon coast.

The Silver Point blob has a sea cave, which is engaging on its own, however it's never accessible. Using zoom features on a camera or binoculars will let you get inside virtually, however.

Courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Walking here is the real treat. In winter, occasionally sand levels get so low you can see the bedrock that Cannon Beach sits on – some 18 million years old.

The cliffs here tell their own odd geologic tale, with what looks like gigantic scrapes and gashes. This chunk was once underwater and heavier currents cut those grooves. A variety of boulders dot the landscape as well, and they often are covered in green sea goo, making them look like hairy little gremlins hanging out on the beach.

Either keep hiking half a mile south or wander 101 down to Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site, which is relatively busy and well known. There, you get to hang near Lion Rock, which is normally at the tideline getting smacked by waves. Insider's tip: summer sand levels can get high enough that they push the tides back considerably and sometimes you can walk a ways out westward and look back at this majestic formation.

Tidepools abound here and there's the odd small cave or two.

Almost a mile south of that sits the famed Hug Point State Recreation Site and the little headland known as Hug Point itself, where a small road was blasted out of the rock early last century. It still remains, and it's trippy.

Hug Point is crammed full of wild finds, such as a waterfall, a sizable sea cave with funky colors all over, bits of fossilized wood embedded in the rocks, and a host of curious details worth searching for. It's like a treasure hunt (see the Hug Point virtual tour stops beginning here for a good preview).

At the southern end of this unique Oregon coast drive sits Arch Cape, which technically begins about where Hug Point ends. The main access is down a mile or so by the tunnel, and there sit a host of surprises if you know where to look.

During summer's high sand levels (and only then, when it's safe), you may be able to get around the southern point and see the arch that gave the village its name. There used to be more arches here but they fell apart in the ‘40s, and all that rocky debris that now hosts tidepool life here is from that.

Further north, there's another access or two by Shanks Lane, all featuring that thin stretch of sand typified by rubbly, rounded stones that make Arch Cape not the best place to be at higher tides.

Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours

Cannon Beach Vacation Rentals.  About 60 vacation homes to choose from: ocean view, oceanfront and very close to the beach, all in Cannon Beach or in Arch Cape. All are either oceanfront or very close. Homes sleep as many as 12. 164 Sunset. Cannon Beach, Oregon. 503-436-0940. 866-436-0940. 

Beachcomber Vacation Homes.  Numerous vacation rentals in the Cannon Beach area, including Falcon Cove and Arch Cape. Depending on the home, you may find amenities and luxuries such as a barbecue, claw foot tub, a ship's ladder. 115 Sunset Blvd. Cannon Beach, Oregon. 855-219-4758. 503-436-4500. Website.

Inn at Haystack Rock.  3 blocks from downtown, only a block from beach. Garden courtyard with a Spanish-style fountain. Private patios, barbecue area, free wi-fi, flatscreen TV with DVD player, large, complimentary DVD library. Some host sleep two or three, one hosts six. 487 S. Hemlock. Cannon Beach . 800-559-0893. Inn at Haystack Rock website here.

The Inn at Arch Cape  Historic gem, 100 years old. Updated rooms w/ flat panel TV, WiFi, fireplace made of beach rock (firewood provided). 31950 W. Ocean Lane. Arch Cape, Oregon. (less than 10 min drive from Manzanita) (503) 436-2082. Website here.- Book now


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