There’s a whole lot of coastline out here, and it’s ripe for exploring on foot this fall — when the air is clean and crisp and the crowds of summer have gone.
Specifically, there’s 101 miles of rugged coastline between Reedsport and Brookings on Oregon’s South Coast, dubbed the Wild Rivers Coast because of the pristine nature of the Umpqua, Coquille, Rogue and Chetco rivers winding through.
These five hikes (some with several trails, to suit your endurance and mood) offer an abundance of diversity in landscape, with awe-inspiring views of rock formations, sand dunes, estuaries and lighthouses, old-growth forests, sea caves, secluded beaches and waterfalls. They are, pretty much, as perfect as you can imagine.
So grab your family, a bestie or your pooch, and a pair of good walking shoes and rejuvenate at these 5 epic spots. You’ll be so glad you did.
- The Tahkenitch Creek Trail, between Florence and Reedsport, is a moderate 2-mile (or easier 1.6-mile) round trip loop that follows a flowing creek through the dunes. Buy your parking pass at the trailhead and start by hiking through a coastal forest of Douglas fir, huckleberries and rhododendrons. Cross an 80-foot bridge over the creek and take off your shoes when you get to the 50-foot dunes. Kids will also want to wade in the creek so plan for extra time.
- Golden and Silver Falls in Coos Bay is a moderate 4.2-mile round trip just 24 miles inland from Highway 101. Explore this remote but dazzlingly beautiful, lush area with 200-foot waterfalls surrounded by massive myrtlewood trees and old-growth Douglas fir. Make sure to watch small children near the sections that are unrailed, with steep dropoffs. Dogs are welcome on leash.
- The five trails at Humbug Mountain State Park, in Port Orford, treat you to unparalleled views from 1,756 feet up Humbug Mountain, one of the Coast’s highest headlands. Look down below to the crashing ocean waves or try to spot 12 different kinds of ferns on the Highway 101 and Fern Trail and loop around the summit at the Humbug Mountain trail. Take the Amphitheater Trail to the campground and family programs at the state park. And steel yourself for the steep trek up the Day-Use Trail to Brush Creek, where you’ll find two 100-foot waterfalls cascading into a romantic myrtle grove.
- Sisters Rocks, between Port Orford and Gold Beach, is an easy 1-mile hike, but worth the effort because the payoff is so much greater. There are three huge rocks here, one an island and the others connected to the Coast, by grey sand beaches. The largest rock actually hides a long sea cave. There are also rusting metal remnants of an 1850s settlement on Frankport Beach, a rarely visited spot where beach miners used to mine for gold. There are also tidepools here to explore, but beware of slippery rocks and big waves.
- The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor boasts 18 miles of pristine coastline between Brookings and Gold Beach, each section spotlighting a different section of ruggedly beautiful landscape. The North Trail, a 2.8-mile easy round trip, leads to four trailheads, each with a unique vantage point. Walk the scenic loop around the bluff from the Arch Rock Picnic Area; trek through two archways to a secret collapsed cave from the Natural Bridges Viewpoint; take the switchbacks downhill along the cliffs to the Thunder Cove Viewpoint; and descend to the gorgeous, secluded China Beach from North Island Viewpoint. This is what hiking on the Oregon Coast is all about.
Story by Jen Anderson
Photo by Greg Vaughn (Pictured is Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor near Natural Bridges)