Friday, February 6, 2015

Taft With a Camera

Late winter in western Oregon teases us with an occasional sunny day, leading to the fragile belief that soon winter rainstorms will give way to spring rainstorms. Of course, it is all an illusion, and soon we are cold and soggy again. Even then, the resolute Oregonian will seize a slightly-less-grey day, pack a picnic and a camera, and hit the road.

One of our favorite winter destinations is the beachy little community of Taft. Tucked into the intersection of the Siletz River and the Pacific Ocean, this area offers long, sandy walks beside both the bay and the sea. 

Taft is situated at the southern end of Lincoln City. A city street leads along the north edge of Siletz Bay to a large parking area. Here you will find a covered picnic shelter (complete with fireplace) and a public pier. The shelter is quite accessible, and the pier, though a bit rough, could also be accessed by wheelchair (look on the left side to find a short concrete ramp). 

The beach begins alongside the parking lot. This whole area is a driftwood magnet; in fact, it is quite a snarl in places. People fish and crab from the pier or the beach, warming themselves at beachside fires (do not light fires in the driftwood piles; this is against the law for obvious reasons). Follow the edge of the bay (look in the waves for seals) and then walk alongside the ocean. The bar where the
two waters meet makes for excellent wave watching.

Siletz Bay tempts paddlers with its broad, smooth water. Be aware of the tide, though, because it also strands paddlers with its sticky mud flats and areas of strong current. Only paddle on an incoming tide, and dress for immersion. Stay well away from the mouth.

Crab pots can be dropped in from the pier, but small snares that can be cast from a fishing pole are also popular here. Fishermen do well in the Siletz River, but a boat is recommended and the current can be strong.

Rope burns from crab pots
Crabbing with snare traps
Year-round campers may stay in Lincoln City's Devil's Lake State Park, recommended only for its convenience to the center of town. A better campground is south of Depoe Bay and over Cape Foulweather at Beverly Beach. Despite its proximity to Highway 101, this is a nice camping spot, with yurts, a secluded hiker-biker camp, and access to a wide beach sprinkled with fossils.

So pack a picnic. Bring your camera. Wear your raingear. It's time for a road trip.

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