Sunday, July 5, 2020

Accessible Oregon: The Central Coast Part II

In part one of our trip down the central coast, we covered easy-to-visit coastal stops from Lincoln City to Boiler Bay. Continuing down Highway 101, we come to the little town of Depoe Bay. Pull over and park along the sea wall for top-notch wave watching right from your car; when the waves run high, they sometimes spray right over the road! Follow the sidewalk to view a spouting horn, as well as the "World's Smallest Harbor" on the other side of 101. Look underneath the bridge to watch boats "shoot the gap" as they enter or exit the harbor through the narrow passageway.

South of Depoe Bay, look on your right for Rocky Creek Wayside, another cliffside picnic area. There is also a gravel pullout at Highway 101 and Otter Crest Loop that offers great sea views from your car. On the south side of Cape Foulweather, watch for the turning to Otter Rock and the Devil's Punchbowl. The trails here are mostly barrier-free but sometimes bumpy; the real draw here, though, is the Punchbowl, a large hollow in the rock that fills with churning ocean waves as the tide comes in (be aware that, due to the clifftop fence, one must be able to stand up to view the bowl). The waves here are popular with surfers, and you will likely see a few of them on the south side of the park. Driving further south, a right turn below Izzy's leads to Yaquina Head. Here, a well-kept lighthouse stands guard over seabird rookeries. Paved viewing areas provide stunning ocean views; the lighthouse itself, however, is not universally accessible. Be aware that a fee is charged for parking.

Once in Newport, the easiest way to get to the ocean is in the neighborhood of Nye Beach;  just turn west on NW 3rd St. and drive to NW Coast. Pass under the Nye Beach archway to find the turnaround, with parking, benches, and easy access to the sand. This beachy community of shops and restaurants is a favorite stop for tourists and locals alike.

Drive south over the Yaquina Bay Bridge and take the first right to access Newport's South Jetty; drive around the curve and look for a left turn just before passing under the bridge. Park in one of the many pullouts to watch boats entering and leaving the bay. There is also a wide, paved path that leads for a mile through the dunes to South Beach State Park. While you are in the area, drive over to the Hatfield Marine Science Center and look at the east end of the parking lot to find the Yaquina Estuary Hike, one of our favorite hidden gems. This trail varies from smooth pavement to gravel and from bumpy, weathered asphalt to packed sand. It is barrier-free, though, and worth some effort to navigate beside the mud flats and wetlands. There is excellent bird watching here; a simple trailside picnic shelter makes a great blind.

Driving south through Seal Rock, watch on your right for Seal Rock State Park. The small parking lot is not friendly for trailers, but there is parking for other vehicles. Take either branch of the somewhat sloping, paved trail into deep, dark coastal woods to find a viewing platform tucked against the cliffside. While the beach trail from here is narrow and steep in places, the platform is a perfect spot from which to watch the wave action. Those with binoculars should scan the nearby rocks for nesting birds in spring and pelicans in autumn.

Gazebo at Keady Wayside
Continuing south into Waldport, turn left on Highway 34 to find Eckman Lake, a small freshwater lake with a dock for easy fishing and bird watching for those who can navigate the slightly lumpy lawn. Back in town, watch on your right as you leave the business section for tiny Keady Wayside, a bayside parking area with excellent bird and seal watching. An accessible gazebo features free viewing glasses to get a closer look at the wildlife. A bit further south, Governor Patterson Park offers expansive ocean views and picnicking from a fully-accessible viewing platform as well as a short dirt path to the beach.

Yachats Ocean Road
Just before you reach the village of Yachats, watch on your right for the modest entrance to Smelt Sands State Park. The name may not draw you in, but this is, in fact, the easiest way to access the up-close ocean views from the 804 Trail. This popular path is barrier-free but eroded in places; that being said, even a very short walk provides stunning wave watching (keep kids and pets on the trail; the ocean is powerful and unpredictable). Continue through Yachats, cross a small bridge and turn right on Yachats Ocean Road to drive along similar bluffs. Since this stretch is completely paved it is easily accessible, but it's also just a great place for a quick picnic in your car if the weather is less than ideal.

This picnic area offers graveled access and a peek at
Cape Perpetua's amazing views
Our last stop on the central coast is one of our favorite views of the Pacific. South of Yachats, turn left toward Cape Perpetua Campground, then immediately turn left and drive up the hill to the top of Cape Perpetua (a fee is charged which is also good for parking at nearby Devil's Churn, a wave-filled slot in the rock with accessible viewpoints). While much of Perpetua's rugged hilltop is not accessible, there is a short, paved trail that offers the amazing view to everyone.  Those who can manage the graveled, quarter-mile loop trail can also visit a stone shelter built by the CCC during the Great Depression. This historic building was used as an observation station during WWII, and one look at the expansive ocean view will tell you why. Even if you can't negotiate the trail, though, or if you just don't have the time, do stop to check out the parking lot viewpoint. Wildflowers bloom in the sun on the steep, south-facing hillside. Bring binoculars to watch for whales and fishing boats.

Don't miss out on the coastal experience just because of small children, or mobility issues, or lack of time. Along the central coast, Highway 101 follows close beside the ocean's wild waves, offering countless opportunities to find the beautiful Pacific for yourself.

At the Depoe Bay pull-out

Looking south from the Otter Rock viewing area

The Devil's Punchbowl

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

View from Yaquina Head's viewing area

Nye Beach

Newport's South Jetty

Yaquina Estuary Hike

Seal Rock State Park

From Seal Rock's accessible viewing platform

Eckman Lake

Keady Wayside

Governor Patterson State Park

804 trail

Yachats Ocean Road

Stone shelter atop Cape Perpetua
And finally, the Cape's famed view, accessible to all!

1 comment:

  1. Be sure to check on current COVID 19 closures, and be willing to change plans.