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Nestucca Bay Refuge Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to the Little Nestucca River valley from the Pacific View Trail (bobcat)
California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense), Two Rivers Trail (bobcat)
View to the confluence of the Nestucca and Little Nestucca Rivers from the Two Rivers Viewpoint (bobcat)
Black-tailed deer, Pacific View Trail (bobcat)
The trails at the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Pacific View TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Two Rivers Viewpoint
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 380 feet
  • High Point: 320 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Two trails in the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge access woodland slopes, where deer are often seen, a restored headland prairie, and an overlook of a tidal estuary. Vistas from the viewpoint at the top look down on the Little Nestucca River farmlands and north across Nestucca Spit to Haystack Rock, Cape Kiwanda, and Cape Lookout; from the lower overlook at the end of the Two Rivers Trail, you'll get a view of the confluence of the Little and Big Nestucca Rivers.

Visitors may park at the Pacific View Trailhead as long as there are available parking spots and the road is not gated; otherwise, park down at the Nestucca Bay Refuge Trailhead (walking up Christensen Road adds 0.8 miles round-trip to your hike). Please be careful on the road as both hikers and vehicles use it. The lower lot has a small viewing platform which looks over the diked floodplain of Upton Slough and the Little Nestucca River. Flocks of waterfowl forage here in the winter. Two trails lead off from the upper trailhead: the longer loop, the Two Rivers Trail, begins at the north end of the parking area; the much shorter paved, universal access Pacific View Trail switchbacks up to a viewing platform that looks out over the ocean.

The Two Rivers Trail begins at an information kiosk to initially follow a gated section of Christensen Road along a forested peninsula. This area was formerly a retreat location for the Society of Jesus, but the land was purchased and added to the refuge in 2013, with the new hiking route officially dedicated in 2018. The trail begins in a meadow where yarrow, California aster, paintbrush, lupine, and goldenrod bloom in the summer. The track enters shady woods of red alder, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock and then offers a brief view of the coastal hills above the Little Nestucca River. At a junction, go left past a bench to burrow through leafy forest on an old road bed. Sword fern, red elderberry, and salmonberry dominate the understory, while Sitka spruce drip with moss. When you reach Christensen Road gain, go left for 25 yards to resume the trail. The path drops under and alder/spruce canopy and switchbacks to another junction. Here, keep straight for the Two Rivers Viewpoint. The trail descends to a bench that looks out over the confluence of the Nestucca and Little Nestucca Rivers. Cormorants, gulls, and terns may be sunning on the sandbars at the confluence. Across the Nestucca River is Nestucca Spit and the top of Haystack Rock off Cape Kiwanda is visible.

From the Two Rivers Viewpoint, hike back up to the junction, and turn right for the Picnic Area. The trail drops in dense forest to an open area where the Society of Jesus maintained its retreat buildings (these have been dismantled although a fenced well remains). There's a picnic table here where Shasta daisies front a view over Nestucca Bay. Head left at a sign denoting a 'Fishing Access Trail' and descend through giant sword ferns and past a fishing line recycling post to reach the tidal shore of Nestucca Bay. Following a fisherman's trail to the right, you can make out Porter Point at the mouth of Nestucca Bay. From the picnic area, hike back up the road past the old parking pullout for the retreat. Elderberry shrubs arch over the trail. Stay on the road as you pass the junctions for the loop and reach the Pacific View Trailhead.

From the other end of the Pacific View Trailhead, take the Pacific View Trail, a paved universal access path. Interpretive signs describe the flora, fauna, and restoration efforts. The meadow at the crest of the hill is being carefully restored to provide habitat for the endangered Oregon silverspot butterfly (Speyeria zerene hippolyta) and its food source, the western blue violet (Viola adunca). Numerous species of wildflower, including lupine, goldenrod, yarrow, ragwort, paintbrush, aster, and pearly everlasting bloom here in the spring and summer. Get views down to the Little Nestucca valley, the Highway 101 bridge over the Little Nestucca, and forested ridges in the Siuslaw National Forest. The path switchbacks at a bench and then again below an elaborate viewing platform. From the platform, which has interpretive signs, there are views north to Nestucca Spit, Haystack Rock, Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout, and Saddle Mountain.


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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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