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Netarts Spit Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to Oceanside and Maxwell Point, Netarts Spit (bobcat)
On the shore of Netarts Bay, Netarts Spit (bobcat)
Least sandpipers (Calidris minutilla), Netarts Spit (bobcat)
Float collection, Netarts Spit (bobcat)
Three Arch Rocks from Netarts Spit (bobcat)
Walking route along Netarts Spit (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Cape Lookout Day Use TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Netarts Bay Mouth
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 11.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 60 feet
  • High Point: 35 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Netarts Spit's long narrow tongue closes off Netarts Bay between the headlands of Cape Lookout and Maxwell Point. This is the longest and arguably the most secluded spit hike along the north Oregon Coast. On this hike, get views from Cape Lookout to Maxwell Point, including the massive offshore stacks of Three Arch Rocks. The first section of beach north of the day-use area in Cape Lookout State Park cannot be hiked at high tide. When the tide is out, it's a 40-yard wide sandy expanse, with hard sand closer to the water. The high section of the first part of the beach is also overlaid with loose lava cobbles that are difficult to walk on. By keeping inland and heading up the center of the spit, you get to experience the shore pine and Sitka spruce thickets of the interior as well as the shore of Netarts Bay. Where the spit trails peter out, you can head over to the beach via the dunes.

From the trailhead, walk past a picnic shelter on a gravel trail. The path enters a salal/Sitka spruce copse. The ocean is eating away the verge here and, if it's high tide, you can’t get to the beach. In that case, keep to the high ground and pass through a willow thicket to reach group campgrounds B and A. Cross an old parking area that is being given up to the ocean. Keep straight along a road into a closed part of the campground, passing a restroom building. From this campground loop, there are views east to the marshes at the south end of Netarts Bay. You can also ascend the dunes to view the surf.

From the end of the campground area, a grassy road track leads into the vegetated center of the spit. There are stands of spruce, shore pine, willow and Scots broom. The vehicle road ends at a grassy expanse and becomes a well-worn footpath that tunnels into shore pine/spruce thickets. However, at certain times there is a lot of standing water on this trail, so you have to make diversions to higher ground on the left. Some of these paths are deer trails. At a narrow part of the spit, a spur leads to the bay shore, now under high tide. After this, the trail is high and dry and passes into the open grasslands of the spit. There are great views across the bay. Reach a T-junction in the grassland, with a spur leading right to the bay. Go left and ascend the dunes. The trail continues along the crest of the dunes, with the waves eating away below. Reach a high point on the crest and drop below it a little. The trail becomes more indistinct as you pass through a salal thicket, but then resumes along the dune crest. There are great views north to Maxwell Point, Oceanside, and Three Arch Rocks, as well as south to Cape Lookout. At a low point in the dunes, head down to the beach.

On the beach, waves will occasionally lap up to the base of the sand cliffs at high tide. Pass below a dead forest, with one large spruce still upright but defoliated. Others have crashed down the eroded dunes. Past this skeletal woodland, the dunes open up to a grassy expanse. Developments on the hills above Oceanside and Happy Camp are ahead. Clouds of little sanderlings forage along the wave line. Reach the wide, sandy expanse at the Netarts Bay Mouth with its stranded driftwood sculptures. Fishermen’s boats and harbor seals bob in the bay. From here, get a good, close-up view of Three Arch Rocks.

You can walk a short way around the tip of the spit on the bay side (perhaps a mile and a half at the lowest tide), but attempts at a loop will bog down miserably in wetlands and thickets. Bring binoculars if you are here between fall and spring: at low tide, seals may haul out on the flats; scaups, loons, grebes, and black brants can also be seen at these seasons. Return along the beach and head up to the dunes if the tide is at its peak.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 state park day-use fee
  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail by Connie Soper
  • I Heart Oregon (& Washington) by Lisa D. Holmes
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

More Links


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.