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Nestucca Spit Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Nestucca Bay shore, Bob Straub State Park (bobcat)
Looking back to Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda from the beach, Bob Straub State Park (bobcat)
Trail in the mossy woods, Nestucca Spit, Bob Straub State Park (bobcat)
Middle of Nestucca Spit, Bob Straub State Park (bobcat)
The loop hike as described (low tide only - not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo

Contents

Hike Description

Nestucca Spit, now Bob Straub State Park, was the site of one of Oregon’s classic environmental battles in the late 1960s. Governor Tom McCall supported the construction of a Highway 101 “freeway” straight down the spit and across the narrow mouth of Nestucca Bay. State Treasurer (later Governor) Bob Straub opposed it and his side, obviously, won the day. The loop hike here takes you south along Kiwanda Beach to the Nestucca Bay Mouth and then along the bayshore and inland into a wonderful wooded strip of stunted, lichen-draped trees above a spongy carpet of moss and kinnikinnick. For a hike about 1.5 miles shorter, you can begin at the Bob Straub State Park Trailhead.

A couple of notes: The higher the tide, the narrower the strip of beach that can be hiked and, on the bay side, there is no exposed beach at all at high tide. The interior of the spit has a wetland that can be under water during the rainy season. Trails leading through the forest on the east side of the spit have multiple unsigned junctions, so keep your bearings and orient carefully.

Walk out onto the beach and get views north to Haystack Rock, Cape Kiwanda, and the Great Dune. These destinations are described in the Cape Kiwanda Hike.

Turn south and head along the beach, which you will also share with vehicles. Cascade Head looms on the southern horizon and soon enough the cliffs at Porter Point at the Nestucca Bay Mouth will also become visible. After the last beach house, you will enter state park territory. You can find a trail through the beach grass along the crest of the dunes and alternate walking up here with hiking the wave line. At the latter, there will almost always be small flocks of sanderlings scuttling about, sometimes mixed with western sandpipers in winter. Closer to the end of the spit, watch for seals gawking at you from the surf. From the dune crest, look across the broad sweep of the spit, with its shallow marshes and clumps of shore pine, Sitka spruce, and invasive Scots broom. In three miles, reach the Nestucca Bay Mouth and look across to Porter Point and the mansion at its headland. Round the end of the spit. On sunny days at low tide, harbor seals may be basking at water's edge: keep your distance and keep your dog under control.

At low tide, you can head along the bayshore beach to make the loop. Otherwise, you will have to head inland to pick up a trail which bisects the spit. Be aware that this trail may lead through extensive areas that under water during the rainy season. Across the bay, steep slopes of Sitka spruce drop down Cannery Hill to the water. Crabbers in small skiffs may be setting their pots; the bay is also a mecca for clammers. Seals will pop their heads up to follow your progress and various waterfowl scud the waters. Walking as far as you can go takes you to a tidal marsh, so at the south end of a stand of trees that comes to the bayshore, find a trail that leads inland.

This trail immediately connects with one of the many horse tracks that form a network throughout the spit’s interior. Head right at this junction. You can wander where you will, but it’s best to keep left at the first junction and then always right after that to stay close to the bay shore. There are small clearings infested with Scots broom, but most of the time you will be hiking in an almost mystical woodland of Sitka spruce and shore pine, with some red alder, manzanita, Douglas-fir, and crabapple. The understory is sometimes a dense thicket of salal and evergreen huckleberry and in other places one hikes along a carpet of moss and kinnikinnick. The trail undulates along low, vegetated dunes. You will pass a couple of bulrush swamps and get glimpses of Nestucca Bay. At some point, pass a mysterious sign proclaiming “Beyond this place, there be dragons.” You should reach the northern end of the tidal marsh and from there you can use trails to make your way west across a more open interior to the Bob Straub State Park Trailhead or north along the bayshore to a day-use parking area and boat launch. From the former, keep going to the beach if you are parked at the Pacific Avenue Trailhead; from the latter walk north along Sunset Drive.


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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail by Connie Soper
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and the Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

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Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.