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Enjoying the Central Oregon Coast from Highway 101 – Florence

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Guest Writer: Peggy Meyer

Peggy has lived in Florence, Oregon full-time since 1997. Her move from the valley to the coast brought a different climate and community. She’s never looked back, and has loved living in the peaceful little cove on Woahink lake, and now in old town Florence! These are her recommendations if you have the chance to visit the historic and lovely coastal town of Florence, Oregon!

Have you ever seen the Pacific Ocean from a bluff…with windswept trees overhead…with the surf pounding the rocks and tide pools far below…while leaning on rock walls that have stood sentry since the CCC installed them back in the 1930s? If you have, you surely want to go again. If you haven’t…I hope you take the chance to experience it this summer or fall. You are invited!

OPI has several beautiful homes along the mid- to northern Oregon Coast. You can enjoy the beach by walking along the water’s edge, or you can view it from inside one of their homes. If you have time, and the inclination, you can view it from a trail that’s high, high above. Or you can view it from an easy, paved path just a few feet from the tide line.

ARE YOU A HIKER? OREGON HAS AWESOME TRAILS!

Here are two hiking suggestions: The Cook’s Ridge Trail is in the forest with views of the ocean, and it’s a bit of a challenge; the Oregon Coast Trail 804 is more of a walk. Both are appealing! I’ll give you an introduction to both.

If you are interested in a challenging but awesome and rewarding hike:

There are several trails along Highway 101. My favorite is in the Gwynn Creek Valley near Cape Perpetua. The trail is labeled The Cook’s Ridge Trail. It’s located just three miles south of Yachats between mileposts 168 and 169. There’s a nice parking lot there that accommodates RVs and autos. The Forest Service charges a $5.00 parking fee.

The Cook’s Ridge Trail begins from the upper parking lot near the Visitor’s Center. It is labeled “Moderate” by AllTrails and “Difficult” by the Forest Service. That’s probably because it’s almost six miles long and has 1100 feet elevation gain. Also, there are roots and rocks across the entire length of the trail. A small board bridge, and a few Forest Service-built log steps give you some variety! But there’s no need for scrambling around or using hands and feet to get over the terrain. A nice hiking stick is helpful though, especially on the downhill sections.

We hiked the trail just last month, at the end of August. The AllTrails app suggests to walk the trail clockwise, so we did. (This direction took us steeply uphill at the beginning while we were still fresh. BTW, there are benches every few hundred feet along this part of the trail. The benches didn’t offer much of a view, but it was a good panting place.) As we hiked, we were rewarded with patches of sunshine coming through the trees, 65-degree weather, many creeks, and a tiny shrew rustling through the ferns beside the trail. Partway through our trek, my friend stopped and cocked her ear toward a tall, dead tree trunk we could see off in the distance a little downhill from us. She motioned me to stop and listen. We heard it, then saw it! A Downy woodpecker was hammering away. He was small and had a tiny red patch on the side of his hard little head! We observed him for a few minutes, then hiked on. Suddenly we heard another, or maybe the same little guy, pecking away and fattening up for the winter. Glorious!

The trail follows an old logging road and then forks. A little farther on, (about a mile) you’ll turn onto the Gwynn Creek Trail, then descend to the creek – this section is about two and a half miles. A sign there prompts you to turn right toward the Visitor Center. The trail is wider here and is part of the Oregon Coast Trail system that follows the abandoned bed of a 1913 Florence-Yachats wagon road. From this lofty viewpoint, you can see the Pacific Ocean, Highway 101, and beautiful tide pools. A mile later you’ll be back to your car. That last mile was an easy-enough hike/walk, but by that time we were ready to be off the trail and drinking from our canteens!

Or maybe you prefer an easier walk?

An easier hike/walk is Yachats Oregon Coast Trail 804.

It’s a little over a mile long, an out and back trail near Yachats. Four of us took this stroll. It’s doable by people of almost any age. (Our group ranged in age between 18 and 78 years.) You can choose to stay on the mostly-paved path or venture down onto the tide pool areas.

We parked in the Adobe Restaurant parking lot and walked toward the ocean. We turned right onto the path that is about 25 feet above the shore. We walked this path along the Pacific Ocean in mid August this year. People were properly “social distancing” per COVID protocols.

Then, as we looked out over the sun-sparkled ocean, we saw humpback whales! They weren’t far offshore, and they were spouting and moving along for over an hour! We think they might’ve been feeding because quite a few seagulls were settled on the water near them.

The tide pools and large boulders onshore were teeming with life.

Farther along on our walk, we looked into a rather gloomy, other-worldly, shady area to our right. We could barely read a little sign, so we ventured in. What a surprise, the primitive sign read: “The Ghosts of Yachats”. And there, against gray and dusty tree trunks growing up through the dried-leaf strewn ground, were little lean-to “huts” that’d been undoubtedly made by…the ghosts of Yachats

Trail 804 was fun, picturesque, and surprising! It’s worth your time!

So, I’ll leave you with this: Come and stay with us at an OPI location— and get out and have an adventure!

There’s nothing like the Pacific Northwest!

EXTRA THINGS TO DO IN FLORENCE!

  1. Woahink Lake – KayakPerimeter of lake: 13 milesNorth-South distance: about a mile, tip to tip of covesEast-West distance: about a mile, tip to tip of covesKayaking Experiences: Surfing waves just outside Boot Cove in 35-mph winds
  2. Port of Siuslaw Campground and MarinaFishing guide services for Siuslaw River and ocean tripsThree launch ramps availablePrivate and public boat mooring available
  3. BoardwalkA wide COVID-compatible Boardwalk with several benches begins just west of the Port of Siuslaw Launch Ramps in front of a well-stocked Bridgeport Market. The market serves the campground and other visitors with sports licenses, food stuffs, drinks, ice, made-to-order sandwiches, etc.The Boardwalk leads visitors into Florence’s gem: Bay Street…a shopper/snacker/diner/browser’s dream.

More To Explore

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Antiquing

Antiquing is a favorite coastal activity. For those rainy, windy days that you don’t want to be outside, antiquing is the perfect way to spend your time.