We spent a few days based in Newport after New Year’s. Our desire was to escape to more tropical climes, and indeed it was positively balmy, with temperatures rising to the high 30s every day.
1. Cummins Creek Loop
I got away for this one on my own. The Cummins Creek Trail runs just outside the Cummins Creek Wilderness, but I took the unofficial spur trail into the wilderness proper and then floundered along the creek among the bogs and big Sitka spruce for about a mile or so before returning to the main trail.
I headed up the ridge a reached a grassy hillside below a knoll. A spur trail leads out to a glimpse of the ocean. By this time, at about 1,200 feet, I was in fresh snow, and hiked a wintry scene up to the junction with the Cooks Ridge Trail. This took me below the snow line again, and I returned to the trailhead via the Gwynn Creek Trail: by far the best old-growth trail on the Coast in my opinion. I kept standing in awe to ogle massive Douglas-firs, hemlocks, and Sitka spruce.
2. Depoe Bay
We stopped here going and coming to walk the sea wall above the pillow lavas. The narrow entrance to the “world’s smallest harbor” used to be a deep chasm similar to Oneonta Gorge when sea levels were lower during the last ice age. Like that Gorge, the rock here is also composed of Columbia River Basalts. We enjoyed the spouting horn, at its best when the tide is coming in, and I lowered myself by the ropes in place (It was icy) to the pocket beach nestled under a colorful sandstone bluff. The formations here used to be part of a spectacular natural arch that finally eroded away, I think in the late 1950s?
We also walked out to the short trail that leads around the headland north of the bay. Waves also crash against the lava here, and basalt sills protect the sandstone inlet of Pirate Cove.
3. Nye Beach
We awoke one morning to find a couple of inches of snow carpeting the beach. Locals said it was only the second snow in ten years. This called for a stroll up to Agate Beach. While the gulls were shivering, apparently the little mole crabs found it a good time to molt, and their exoskeletons were littering the beach in places.
4. Ona Beach and Seal Rock
Later the same day, we motored down to Ona Beach and walked the wave-cut platform there. The rills and fissures in the sandstone are complemented by rows of rounded concretions composed of harder rock. This area has been a trove for fossil hunters. One of the most prolific was Douglas Emlong, who found the remains of megafuana such as a desmostylian (a hippopotamus-like creature); an ancient sea-lion that resembled its bear-like ancestors; and a whale that possessed both teeth and baleen.
It’s two miles from the mouth of Beaver Creek to Seal Rocks. Before the headland a trail leads up the bluff to Highway 101, and then it’s a short distance south to Seal Rock State Park. Grassy Tourist Rock here is a nesting site for birds, especially black oystercatchers. North and south runs a series of stacks, part of a basalt sill. The beach is dominated by Elephant Rock, with its columnar basalt overlying a layer of Yaquina Formation sandstone. The basalts here are the southernmost examples of Columbia River Basalt flows (Wanapum member).
5. Fishing Rock
Driving back to Portland, we decided to check out Fishing Rock State Park. There’s a gravel parking area just a quarter mile off of Highway 101. Then you tunnel through a dense thicket of Sitka spruce, shore pine, and wax-myrtle (part of the Oregon Coast Trail) to reach a grassy headland with a view down to Fishing Rock, a lava island separated from the mainland by a churning crevasse. Views south take in a set of inaccessible small beaches that are inundated at high tide. Looking north, the sandy beach extends about six miles to the end of Salishan Spit.
This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
4 posts • Page 1 of 1
weird to see snow and ice there
I agree, the old growth on the Cummins Creek trail is pretty grand. Thanks for sharing!
"Going to the mountains is going home."
— John Muir
— John Muir
Great post and pictures. I don't know if you realize what a rare treat it is to see snow and ice formations on the coast like that. It doesn't happen very often and you captured it beautifully.