Most of us hit the trail on the Coast for the exercise, as well as the stunning scenery and fresh ocean air. Many are also in search of solace — a quieter retreat from the hustle and bustle of life, free from city noises and especially crowds. These lesser-known spots are up and down the Coast and ripe for exploring, if you know where to find them. Here are a few for your next adventure.
Wildlife and tranquility
The family-friendly Two Rivers Nature Trail at the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge winds 2.2 miles through several different coastal habitat, with tranquil views of the Nestucca and Little Nestucca Rivers. Warning: You may hear lots of sounds, if you listen closely — namely songbirds, and the sound of the wind whistling through the brush. Pack a picnic, a wildflower and bird spotting guide, binoculars and a camera for those Instagram shots later. Meander at your own pace or join up with a volunteer for a bird walk, or to join in a stewardship program. Volunteers are needed to help with coastal prairie restoration, conduct bird counts and surveys, build and maintain nest boxes and help with upkeep of facilities and hiking trails. Visit their volunteer page to sign up, but make sure to leave the pups at home — dogs are not allowed on this hike due to the sensitive ecology.
A big tree in the city
You might never know that Rockaway Beach — with its bustling main street and lovely beaches — is home to one of the biggest Western red cedar trees in the region and one of Oregon’s biggest trees, at 154 feet tall and 49 feet wide. Located in a 45-acre old-growth forest, it used to be a local secret, largely inaccessible to the public. You can now visit and admire it via a brand-new mile-long trail that leads to boardwalk platform overlooking the Cedar Wetlands Preserve. Find the trailhead parking lot (shh, don’t tell everyone) at the south end of Rockaway Beach, at the corner of Highway 101 and Washington Street.
Wild old-growth forest
Thirteen miles northeast of Gold Beach along the rushing Rogue River, Francis Schrader Old Growth Trail is a gem worth visiting in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The 1.5-mile family– and dog-friendly loop (leashes required) traverses through dense Douglas fir, with picnic tables for resting and interpretive signs for a self-guided tour of the flora and fauna. Due to its remoteness, you may just have the whole trail to yourself.
If you go:
Whenever you’re recreating on Oregon’s coastal trails, make sure to follow Leave No Trace principles — leave the place cleaner than you found it and be mindful of the sensitive ecosystem. Pack out what you pack in — even pistachio shells and orange peels are harmful, because scavengers will eat food scraps even though it’s not good for them. Visitors should not feed wildlife since it can attract scavengers to nesting areas of threatened bird species such as marbled murrelet and western snowy plover.
When using the trails, respect all signs posting beach restrictions due to snowy plover nesting season (Mar. 15-Sept. 15), keeping dogs, bikes, kites and drones off these beaches in these areas. Stay on the trail, since wandering out into a meadow may damage plants critical to the Oregon silverspot butterfly, a threatened species. Keep pets and children within a safe distance on the trail, carry a map and dress in layers, and prepare for adventure — the Coast is full of surprises.
— Jen Anderson
Cedar Wetlands Preserve photo by Robbie McClaran