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Three Central Oregon Coast Nature Sites Are Bigger Than They Look

Published 06/11/2016 at 6:51 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Seal Rock, central Oregon coast

(Oregon Coast) – Sometimes, there are clandestine spots and secret beaches hiding in plain sight. These fun finds make you feel special, like a grand explorer of old, and all it took was walking a bit longer or keeping a closer eye on the pullouts. No massive sailing ship and a crew of hardy warriors. Just the family car and a handful of companions ready to take a little more time. (Above: Seal Rock.)

These delights are discovered in beach spots that are bigger than they look. Here are three such natural attractions in the Lincoln County area in a relatively short drive from each other.


Boiler Bay State Viewpoint. Boiler Bay is the famed destination just north of Depoe Bay, and it's actually comprised of two big sections. One is the headland and park known as Boiler Bay State Viewpoint, but another smaller section lies just north of it.

The big park is a grassy chunk of land that meets the rocky promenade of wild waves and the somewhat damp moments they (delightfully) can bring. Especially when you don't expect it this high up. Some sections are more prone to exploding ocean than others, and these can change with tidal conditions. So make sure you take a gander at the full length of this dramatic shoreline.


Drive about a half mile north and you'll find the diminutive gravel parking lot that is also called Boiler Bay, where – if tidal conditions are right – you can see the actual boiler from an old shipwreck that gave the bay its name. This section features a really rough and slightly dangerous trail down to the tidal areas that isn't advisable, unless you're more than a little on the rugged side. Don't even attempt this tiny cove beach if the tide is unruly at all. People have died here during stormier conditions.

On the very northern edge of Boiler Bay, you'll notice a tiny pocket beach beneath the forested cliffs. Sometimes this is accessible via a very hidden and long path from the gravel parking lot. But not always.


Smelt Sands State Recreation Site. This park at the northern edge of Yachats sports a lot more action than most areas along the Oregon coast, primarily because it's one big rocky shelf where the waves smash and crash with perpetual impunity.

It all starts with the parking lot and the thickly wooded surroundings, giving way to the mile or so of the paved 804 Trail, which stretches along the shoreline, just far back enough to keep it wild and mesmerizing but completely safe. It plops you somewhere in the middle of that trail, so there's much more going on there than you realize.

Even Smelt Sands, however, seems to go on and on. It's not clear where its northern border is, but almost a half mile north of the parking lot the trail suddenly ends in a surprising change of landscape: everything become soft, sandy beach.


At Seal Rock State Recreational Site, about halfway between Newport and Waldport, this park stretches on for about a half mile – maybe more. The main access is right in the middle of the tiny community of Seal Rock, sometimes known as Seal Rocks (apparently its original name about 100 years ago). But other accesses are nearby - a tad tucked away from sight.

The main section boasts the sizable parking lot, restrooms and the forested path that everyone is familiar with. A slightly twisting, winding walkway takes you either down to the boulder-ridden beach or you can skirt around the cliffs and keep an almost birds-eye view. A couple of benches and lookout spots are good cause for pause.

This part of the beach features that famed massive crevice that is so inviting to explore, but be cautious here as the tide doesn't always cooperate.

You can keep walking a ways south here to encounter the tide pools areas, or find the pullover spot about a quarter mile down the road that has a fairly quick and easy trail through bushes that gets you there faster. During summer's higher sand levels there isn't always a lot of tide pools, but when sand levels lower after a storm or two you get quite a labyrinth of interesting rock structures poking out of the sand. Agates are good here too.

At that same parking lot, the southern end leads contains yet another unmarked path down to the beach, where it's rockier and harder to tread, and the beach more or less dead-ends here with big sea stacks. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

 

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A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
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