Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Yaquina Estuary Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Beach along the Estuary Trail (bobcat)
Tree lupine (Lupinus arbustus), Estuary Trail (bobcat)
Back channel on King Slough (bobcat)
Paintbrush owl clover (Castilleja ambigua), Estuary Trail (bobcat)
The Estuary Trail in red; possible loop return in white (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps


Hike Description

Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center sits on low ground near the NOAA Marine Operations Center and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. While the exhibits in the Visitor Center here do not match those of the Aquarium, they do complement them and entry is free. In addition, a short interpretive trail leads around the shore and enlightens the visitor on the importance of estuaries and the teeming life forms that inhabit them. Yaquina Bay is essentially a drowned river mouth and the second-largest such ecosystem on the Oregon Coast. Time your visit for low tide, when the mud flats will host flocks of hungry shore birds.

The trail begins at a rock jetty at the far end of the parking lot for the Marine Science Center. Check out the map of the estuary here. Get views across the water to the Newport Bayfront and back to the Yaquina Bay Bridge. The paved tread leads off to the right and crosses a footbridge before avoiding a short washed out area at a cobble beach. A sign here explains the Yaquina Estuary system. Shrubby willow, wax-myrtle, shore pine and Sitka spruce dot the open area. The paved trail resumes, always a few yards from the beach and heads in along King Slough. At a shelter, there’s an interpretive panel on the mud flats. In season, people may be clamming here when the tide is out, a time when shorebirds, especially whimbrels and sandpipers, will also be foraging on the flats. At a junction, keep left (Going right takes you into the Marine Science Center complex) and pass a willow thicket. Walk by a picnic table and reach a wonderful elevated boardwalk over a swampy arm of the estuary vegetated by saltgrass, glasswort, plantain and owl clover. After the boardwalk and the last information signs, the trail hits a road with No Trespassing on the left and the Marine Science Center complex on the right.

You can return along the Estuary Trail or go right and then left on 25th Street to walk out to the paved Tsunami Evacuation Trail which runs alongside OSU Drive to make a loop back to the Hatfield Marine Science Center Trailhead. You can also visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium from here by going left from 25th Street.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Admission to Visitor Center is free (donation suggested)
  • No pets permitted
  • Guided nature walks in the summer

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes: Oregon Coast by William L. Sullivan
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon's North Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson

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.

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.