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Bullards Beach Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Coquille River Lighthouse (bobcat)
Foam wash on Bullards Beach (bobcat)
Sand bluff on the Coquille River, Coquille Spit (bobcat)
Licorice fern sori (Polypodium glycyrrhiza), Coquille Spit ( (bobcat)
Inlet on the river side of Coquille Spit ( (bobcat)
The beach and spit walk to the mouth of the Coquille River (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Bullards Beach TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Coquille River Lighthouse
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out or loop
  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 30 feet
  • High Point: 25 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The Coquille Spit juts south to the mouth of the Coquille River, where you’ll encounter an 1896 lighthouse and look across to the old town area of Bandon. There’s a network of trails in Bullards Beach State Park, most running north from the popular campground and used by both hikers and horses. This hike takes you out to the beach itself and then south to the lighthouse. You can do a little spit walking along the river itself, but a series of inlets cuts you off and you’ll need to return to the beach or take the horse trail which parallels the lighthouse road (Yes, you can also actually drive to the Coquille River Lighthouse if you don’t want to hike along the beach.).

The spit looked very different in the past since the Coquille River Lighthouse was originally on an island, but construction of the jetties altered the pattern of sand deposition. The area was the home of the Nasomah band of the Coquille, and the crossing at the mouth of the Coquille became a point of contention between white settlers and the locals. In September 1851, a party of miners led by William T'Vault was attacked here, with seven miners killed; only two survivors staggered back to Port Orford, including T'Vault himself. Later, in January 1854, a group of miners bound for the gold workings at Whiskey Run attacked a sleeping village of Coquille Indians and murdered 21 people. This attack led to the forced relocation of the Coquille in 1856 to the Coast Reservation (later the much reduced Grand Ronde and Siletz Reservations) far to the north for "their own safety."

From the beach parking area, a trail leads up over the foredunes, a rather new feature of this coastline as invasive European beachgrass binds the sand together and prevents it from moving inland. Begin hiking south on the driftwood strewn beach (At high tide, you may be hiking up in the driftwood zone or on the dunes themselves; also watch out for logs being rolled in by the surf.). You can see south to Coquille Point and Table Rock, the largest of the sea stacks off Bandon. After about 1 ½ miles, you approach the North Jetty. There may be a driftwood pile here, so it’s usually better to head up at emergency locator marker #148.

You’ll reach an abandoned section of the lighthouse loop road, now littered with driftwood. Walk south to the Coquille River Lighthouse, located on a concrete pedestal on a solid rock foundation. The lighthouse was built in 1896, with a keeper’s house, boathouse, and other buildings being constructed in subsequent years. During the 1936 fire which destroyed the town of Bandon, the lighthouse grounds served as a refugee center, with the light’s tender being used to ferry townspeople across the river. The light was abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1939, but a restoration was begin in 1976. Major repairs to mitigate storm damage took place in 2007.

You can walk out along the jetty at low tide. In summer, you may see pelicans, and cormorants and other seabirds are here all year. Look for seals patrolling the river mouth.

From the picnic table near the lighthouse, follow the jetty inland past a sign for the Lighthouse Trail. This trail actually parallels the park road, so keep straight above the Coquille River. An eerie foghorn accompanies your ramble. Coyote bush, beachgrass, and tree lupine form clumps along the jetty trail with outcroppings of stunted shore pines on the spit to your left. Across the river, you’ll see Bandon’s Jetty Road and the waterfront buildings along First Street. Reach a gravel road track, and continue straight.

At a thicket of gorse, you can drop to the narrow beach on the river shore. At high tide, you may have to scramble inland for short stretches (Beware of spiny gorse!) or just wade in the shallows. You’ll reach a point with a wider sand beach at low tide, and get a view across the Coquille to the islands of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. After rounding the point, head inland at the point where the shoreline takes a north turn.

You’ll pick up a sandy track that takes you back to Bullards Beach Road just a third of a mile north of the Coquille River Lighthouse. From here, you can either head back to the beach or pick up the Lighthouse Trail, an old vehicle track, which runs parallel to the road on its east side. This track eventually becomes sandy single track, and it may be easier to simply walk along the verge of the road.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Open dawn to dusk
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, nearby campground
  • Lighthouse open mid-May through September, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail by Connie Soper
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Oregon Beaches: A Traveler's Companion by John Shewey
  • Oregon’s Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
  • More Oregon Trails and Horse Camps by Kim McCarrel
  • The Dog Lover’s Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

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.