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Ziolkouski Beach Park and That Black Triangle of Southern Oregon Coast

Published 01/07/21 at 12:25 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Ziolkouski Beach Park and That Black Triangle of Southern Oregon Coast

(Winchester Bay, Oregon) – You could nickname it the Southern Oregon Coast Triangle. Although nothing has disappeared there (in fact cool stuff grows there). This unsung, oddly-named park and beach on the south Oregon coast sort of sits hiding in plain sight.

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It’s called Ziolkouski Beach Park, a wide expanse of beach – and a few other things - that sit where the sands of the Winchester Bay area and the Umpqua River meet. All of it quite near Reedsport. There, you’ll find a giant triangle, though it’s not of the mysterious kind. It’s a jetty formation, perhaps the most unusual of its kind on the whole of the Oregon coast. It’s really two jetties in one – two massive rip-rap structures jutting out into the ocean and then connecting to each other to form the entire south jetty of the rivermouth.

The result is that Ziolkuski is a curious beach, with a calm side and a wild side. Yet even that calmer stretch has its moods, however. The triangle creates milder waters no matter what: the ocean can be a madman on either side and it’s comparatively quiet within that structure.


Ziolkuski Beach above, courtesy Google Maps

From the main parking lot of Ziolkouski Beach Park you amble between tracts of dense beach brush and bulging dunes, down to a fairly flat beach where the breakers are usually minimal, slowed down by the jetties.

To the south the beach goes on for miles and miles until you reach the north spit of Coos Bay. The beach itself often has gobs of driftwood, which people often use creatively. To the north, the other jetty looms and more wave action is displayed, along with beaches you have to drive a long ways to get to from here.

In the middle of the triangle, you see the blob-like oyster pods in the distance, with boats and people periodically attending to them. The sight creates some dramatic contrast when those waves in the distance really get going, with massive whitecaps slamming over the tops of the black rocks, yet within the triangle it’s cool and collected.

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Ziolkuski is a fascinating and intricate place; really there’s much more to it than the beach.

That whole rip-rap structure continues inland along the riverside, and there’s beachy tracts running next to it that lead you further towards inner Winchester Bay. Along here you may find old pilings from some other long-gone structure.

Under median to calm conditions, the boulders along this ancient Oregon coast riverway and the stretch of beach behind are temperate in mood. Ships and smaller craft drift past lazily and yet with purpose as the waves lap timidly against the rocks. Bring on the storms or slightly crazier conditions and you have spooky waves piling in quickly and churning over just before they hit the rock wall, and it looks as if they may come over and swat you. They don’t, however. It’s alarming, even thrilling – under most tidal situations anyway.

There are stormier times you can’t go near any of those boulders or any chunks of the jetties. Stay clear if water is spilling over.

Continue along the riverside beach path and you’ll hit Half Moon Bay, sort of the back end of Ziolkouski. Nearby, there’s Lake Marie with a short trail around it, and there’s a museum dedicated to the Umpqua River Lighthouse.

Oh yeah, and there’s a big lighthouse here. But that’s another story. More photos below

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