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Cooper Ridge-South Beach Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Hiking the Cooper Ridge Nature Trail, South Beach State Park (bobcat)
Salal (Gaultheria shallon), Cooper Ridge Nature Trail (bobcat)
Sitka spruce on the Cooper Ridge Nature Trail (bobcat)
Red-necked phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus), South Jetty (bobcat)
Looking down South Beach from the South Jetty (bobcat)
Loop around the state park shown in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: South Beach TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: South Jetty
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 70 feet
  • High Point: 45 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, especially near the campground


Hike Description

Just south of the mouth of Yaquina Bay, South Beach State Park offers a large campground and trails through varied coastal habitats. For a loop around the park, begin on the Cooper Ridge Nature Trail, which undulates through salal, evergreen huckleberry, and rhododendron thickets before leading you out to connect with the South Jetty Trail. The latter takes you to the boat channel at the mouth of the bay where you can observe several species of seabirds. Walk back along the beach to complete the loop.

Walk back up the entrance road and turn left on the paved road leading into the campground. Shore pine, willow, wax myrtle and Sitka spruce vegetate this area. At a junction before the campground entrance, pick up the Cooper Ridge Nature Trail heading east from the entrance road to the group camp area on the right. The trail leads up and along densely-vegetated sand dunes. In late May/early June, the rhododendrons here are in spectacular bloom. Many trails lead up from the campground, so keep right at all junctions. The first tie trail is labelled a tsunami evacuation route. There are numbered interpretive posts although it may be hard to find a brochure for the trail. Hike above the campground yurts in a thicket of spruce, pine, salal, wax myrtle, evergreen huckleberry and rhododendron. The path rises to the left and then you’re looking down on a marsh. Now drop down to the right. At a bench, keep right and do the same at the next junctions. The trail undulates over the old dunes. Cross over a use trail and wend down under a contorted spruce onto a flatland of spruce and shore pine woods. Pass another bench and then turn towards the coast. Pass along a grassy flat with shore pine and Scots broom blooming. In a sandy area, follow a hiker sign to go right and then head up in more spruce woods along an old dune crest. At another junction, keep straight (right leads down into a sandy gully). You might notice rabbits hopping off into the underbrush. Keep along the crest of the dune and make a sharp right at a junction to walk along the crest west of the campground.

Descend to a paved trail and go right in a grassy area of shore pine, wax myrtle, twinberry, Scots broom and some spruce. Keep straight where the Cooper Ridge Loop goes off to the left a few yards later. Pass a willow slough on the right and enter a tunnel of wax myrtle, Hooker’s willow, pine, and spruce. Then come to the Old Jetty Trail and go right. Wind through the grassy, shore pine-dotted sandy expanse, keeping left at a junction until you see the Yaquina Bay Bridge ahead. Turn left on the road which accesses the South Jetty and walk up it past the Equestrian Area sign. Then, go left on a paved trail which indicates that it is one mile to the South Beach Day Use Trail. At a crossroads, head right for the beach. Leave the thickets behind and walk across grassy dunes blooming with lupine and coastal strawberry.

Get to the beach and walk right up to the South Jetty. Kitesurfers may be setting off for a short stint on the waves. Up on the jetty, look for red-necked phalaropes bobbing in the boat passage in late spring. Flocks of brown pelicans may float overhead from time to time. Pelagic cormorants bounce and duck in the waves. Now head back down the wide beach until you see a viewing platform up in the dunes. Head in to it and continue inland on a boardwalk that leads to a paved trail. Pass the Old South Jetty Trail and come to a four-way junction of paved trails. Go right to get to the day use parking area.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No fees
  • Dogs on leash
  • Campground, picnic area, restrooms

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and the Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon's Best Wildflower Hikes: Northwest Region by George Wuerthner
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon's North Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Oregon Beaches: A Traveler's Companion by John Shewey
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

More Links


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.

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