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Curiosities of Yachats on Central Oregon Coast: Funky Holes to Hissing Noises

Published 12/30/22 at 5:35 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Curiosities of Yachats on Central Oregon Coast: Funky Holes to Hissing Noises

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(Yachats, Oregon) – They call this little village the “Gem of the Oregon Coast,” and that's certainly not a misnomer. Indeed there's plenty of knockout little surprises lurking in this vast stretch of rocky ledges, starting at the northern edge of town until you almost get to Florence – many miles later. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection: above, the tiny blowhole at Yachats)

Its curiosities are numerous, often in rather head-scratching sights that host an even more fascinating back story.

Here's a few:

Yachats Changes in Front of You. As you walk along the 804 Trail, heading north, you may notice something different as you get closer to that edge where the landscape abruptly turns to sand. The rocks start getting lighter in color and a bit smoother. Then, as you're close to the trail's absolute boundary, you'll see a bunch of pockmarked areas – little holes.

Yachats has a little trick up its sleeves for would-be geologists. Those basalt ledges are basically frozen lava, all of which come from various eruptions some 36 to 40 million years ago. And even as you see those rocks get lighter, you're more apt to think it's still basalt.

Oh but no, according to Eugene geologist / author Marli Miller. This area becomes sandstone rather than ancient basalt, so it's a little younger (some parts of this sandstone formation are 18 million years old). It is softer than basalt, usually the kind of rock you find on the southern Oregon coast, but different beaches there can have vastly different types of sandstone.

Bizarre Details at Yachats. This immediately brings us to the funky shapes in these rocks, like the many pit-like holes. According to Miller, geologist George Mustoe on the south Oregon coast, and geologist Tom Horning out of Seaside, these rocky holes come from – believe it or not – clams.

“The holes have been drilled by rock-boring clams in the softer matrix,” Horning told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. Basically, clams have a way of rooting themselves in smaller holes, and then slowly grinding that space bigger and bigger.

This action is the same down at Shore Acres near Coos Bay, but it's rock-boring worms that did those holes, according to Mustoe.

You'll also find some trippy, straight-edge shapes in there, likely related to the item just below here.

At Strawberry Hill

Natural Steps in the Rocks. They're technically called “cordwood joints,” because they can look like stacked wood. They are kind of freaky to find. Essentially, the lava that erupted here forced its way into other holes, and then eventually that outer material eroded away. Further erosion leveled them into a steps shape.

You'll find some excellent examples of these a little bit south of town at Strawberry Hill, Bob Creek and Neptune Beach (the northern access), as well as in a hidden spot at Depoe Bay.

Blowholes of Yachats. There is a fairly large spouting horn / blowhole at Yachats' along the 804 Trail, close to the Smelt Sands entrance. It erupts with quite a bit of noise sometimes. There are some other minor ones along the trail, but the biggie is just south of town at Cook's Chasm. That one fires off with a great hissing noise, and it's absolutely spellbinding. Thor's Well is very close and for some reason that feature is more popular, but it's a lame choice compared to the spouting horn.

Curiosities of Yachats on Central Oregon Coast: Funky Holes to Hissing Noises
Cook's Chasm

Rather spectacular and even more surprising is the tiny blowhole at the southern end of town, along Ocean Drive. Like the others it takes the right conditions, so when this one goes off it's kind of special. It too can make a hissing noise, but more than anything it sprays the hell out of you and your camera gear with a forcible mist.

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