Oregon Coast Hiking
The mountains meet the sea for much of Oregon's Pacific coast. Giant headlands jut out to sea, creating isolated beaches for the intrepid hiker to discover. Time it right with low tide, and you can walk around Hug Point, where an old road cut into the rock provides plenty of pools for tidal life. Barnacles encrust almost any durable surface below the high tide mark, while big brightly colored creatures like this orange sea star and giant green anemone (below) can be found in the lower pools.
The Oregon Coast Trail leaves the beach to climb Tillamook head, winding up through sitka spruce forests to cliff-top views of the Terrible Tilly Lighthouse. Along the way, spring wildflowers pop up in the meadows and woods: oxallis, salmonberry, violets, and the three pictured below, frilly fringecup, red paintbrush, and yellow desert parsely.
The paintbrush and desert parsely were photographed on Cape Lookout, a headland that extends two miles out into the ocean and ends atop a 400 foot cliff with amazing views of the Pacific and coast. A ground squirrel came close, hoping I'd drop some of my lunch.
Shorebirds waded along the beach or nested in the cliffs. Bald eagles showed up several times, like the one pictured below in a tree. But I also saw one land on the beach, and then, right as the sun set, head out to a sea stack to bomb a nesting colony of murres (below right).
History can be explored at Fort Stevens State Park, the most northern part of the Oregon Coast. From the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale on the beach, to the batteries that provided coastal defense from the war of 1812 through World War II, trails wind throughout the park. The Cape Meares Lighthouse at the south end of Tillamook Bay, was built in 1890, and is open for tours.
Of course, there is lots more to do at the Oregon Coast than just hike. Check out this stand-up paddle-boarder braving the waves in the photo below for one idea. But I think that exploring the marine life in tidepools at low tide is my favorite activity - it's simply something that I cannot do while hiking on Mt. Hood.
Greg Hill is a lead guide and instructor for Next Adventure Outdoor School. He will be making a presentation on Spring Wildflowers on Tuesday, May 23, 2013.