Thru Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, Part 2
By Audrey Jo Mills
Published: 06/22/2012
Audrey Jo Mills

Central Oregon Coast: Lincoln City to Cape Perpetua

We were walking beside Monday morning traffic down Highway 101 towards Gleneden Beach from Lincoln City in what seemed to be a heavy never-ending downpour. We were soaked through by mid-morning, grumpy, and the skyline did not look encouraging. Pepe and I stopped in a small bakery and grabbed a chocolate brownie and triple mocha for a little chocolate incentive to help us continue walking in the rain. As soon as we made it to the beach, the rain let up, sun shined through the breaks in the clouds, and we saw our first solitary baby seal resting on the beach. This was the beginning to what became some of my favorite consecutive hiking days along the entire Oregon Coast Trail. Colorful and detailed beach geology, endless dunes, friendly people, and the charming towns of the Central Oregon Coast re-energized our hiking spirits after several hard days of road walking and crummy weather. Pepe and I were back on the trail and ready to discover what the central OCT had to offer.

Many portions of the central coast are absolutely breathtaking. The coast became a little more rugged and the eroding cliffs were colorful and full of surprises. This was especially true at the southern end of Gleneden Beach and all along Beverly Beach. The calmness of Gleneden Beach was interrupted by a frenzy of birds as we approached Fishing Rock, an outcrop of rusted color pillow lava and clay formations. Pelicans, sea gulls, and cormorants made repeated dives into the sea from the tip of the rock, fishing for food and playing or fighting with each other. Pepe and I watched in delight as we ate our lunch on top of the colorful rock. Along Beverly Beach, we found Miocene age fossils, agates, as well as deposits of black sand, composed of precious minerals. Beverly Beach was also host to some pretty neat geometrically eroding rock formations that were fascinating to see close up!

Pepe and I also really enjoyed the Seal Rock area north of Waldport where we had our first great tide pooling experience amongst the rock flats and the huge sea stack known as Elephant Rock. Not only was the geology of this area eye catching, but the intertidal life, including sea stars and sea anemones, as well as the seabirds and seals, were impressive to view in such a stunning environment! Further south, Pepe and I often found ourselves walking through massive dunes and shifting sand. I had never seen sand dunes of such immensity before and was impressed with the huge areas reserved as National Recreation Areas for the dunes. Unfortunately, we quickly learned why we were the only ones walking through the dunes and everyone else was on an ATV or motorbike. Dune walking is hard walking!

Pepe's eagerness to say hi to everyone on the beach, was a catalyst for many interesting conversations, offers for free places to stay for a night, and great new friends! This was especially true in an instance just north of Yachats where we met Lana and Dawn during their girls weekend escape from Eugene. They invited Pepe and me to stay at their beach home and we had an amazing night of girl talk, laughs and tequila! While all of the towns on the central Oregon Coast had their own unique charm and draw, my favorite was the quaint town of Yachats. As we left Dawn and Lana at their beach home, Pepe and I soon found ourselves on the Yachats trail which follows the bluffs closely along the sea, taking you right by several natural water features, including the Spouting Horns. We continued along the Yachats Trail onto the main street of town and stopped by the Green Salmon for a tasty Hawaiian Mocha and a vegan chocolate brownie. Outside of town we met up with the Amanda Trailhead, marked by a statue tribute to the Coos woman to whom the trail is dedicated. Pepe and I hiked along a drainage, climbing in elevation over Cape Perpetua, through a coastal Sitka Spruce forest with a moss carpet spotted with mushrooms. As we summited the cape, we came to a stone shelter and stunning viewpoint. The hike down the other side was steep and fast and soon we arrived at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center. The center was well worth a look around and staffed by helpful friendly volunteers. Though we got hit with a monstrous storm that night, hiking through Yachats and over Cape Perpetua was one of my most memorable and pleasurable days of hiking the OCT. I'm pretty sure Pepe would agree!

Click here to read an excerpt of Audrey Jo's journal from the second leg of her trip.
Thru Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, Part 2