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Yaquina Head Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Yaquina Head (bobcat)
Quarry Cove and Communications Hill, Yaquina Head (bobcat)
Idaho blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense), Salal Hill, Yaquina Head (bobcat)
Stairs to Cobble Beach, Yaquina Head (bobcat)
Common murres (Uria aalge) on Colony Rock, Yaquina Head (bobcat)
Hiking trails at Yaquina Head (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps

Contents

Hike Description

One of the jewels of the Oregon Coast, the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area offers a variety of short trails that can easily be combined into a half-day outing. The Yaquina Headland, the southernmost of the classic lava peninsulas resulting from 14-million-year-old Columbia Basalt Flows (Frenchman Springs Member), juts out into the ocean and provides a base for the 1873 Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Here you can also scope for gray whales during their migration seasons and observe the thousands of seabirds on Colony Rock. At the eastern end of the headland, a short stroll up a road leads to splendid views and the Coast Guard navigation tower at the top of Communications Hill. In between, other trails lead to the tide pools at Quarry Cove, the fascinating rounded stones of Cobble Beach, and the wildflower slopes and viewpoint atop Salal Hill. The central point for beginning this five-trail tour is at the Yaquina Head Interpretive Center Trailhead.

1. Quarry Cove: The trail heads out from the left (south) side of the visitor center and passes through a tunnel under the access road. There’s a viewpoint here with information signs. Go left from here, looking down on Quarry Cove. You might see surfers riding the waves at Agate Beach. Walk up some steps and then take a gravel trail alongside the road. At a junction, a trail leads right to Communications Hill. Keep straight for Quarry Cove. Steps lead down to a restroom and a parking area. Head to the right down the access road to the cove, a former quarry - no visitors are allowed to drive down here except for those with a handicapped permit. At the bottom, poke around the tide pools, a couple of which are artificial. There are guided tours of the pools spring into fall. An interpretive sign explains the crystalline basalt, basaltic breccia and columnar basalt formations.

2. Communications Hill: Return to the top and cross the road for the trail up to Communications Hill. This is actually a gravel road. Walk around a gate and past a sign for hang gliders and paragliders. There are great views north over salal, twinberry, and cow parsnip up Moolack Beach and Beverly Beach all the way to Otter Crest. The trail becomes shady under Sitka spruce and shore pine, but there are openings with views to the north. The road switchbacks at a power shed and curves around to the top and its Coast Guard communications tower. From here, the views are across to Newport and its beaches.

3. Cobble Beach: Head back down the road, cross the access road, and pass the tunnel leading to the interpretive center. Keep straight, hiking towards the parking lot for the lighthouse. There are information signs at the top of the steps leading down to Cobble Beach. Take steep stairs down to the cobbly strand. The rounded lava stones are the product of millions of years of wave action. In the spring, look for harbor seals and their pups out on Seal Island and cormorants perching on the guano-splashed rocks. Monkey flower and cabbage-like sea kale, a European transplant, bloom on the cliff side.

4. Yaquina Head Lighthouse: Back up the stairs, go left past the Yaquina Head Light Trailhead in a lush landscape dominated by cow parsnip. Reach the viewing area at the historic Yaquina Head Lighthouse to view the murres, cormorants, and gulls which nest in the spring on Colony Rock. This is also a prime site for observing gray whales during their winter and spring migrations (The last weeks in the months of December and March are the best times). Late spring into early fall, volunteers give tours of the lighthouse and take you up to the lantern itself. Sometimes volunteers are attired in period costume.

5. Salal Hill: Then walk back to the Yaquina Head Light Trailhead and up the steps beyond the restroom. This is the Salal Hill Trail. Salal, blue-eyed grass, irises, and cow parsnip bloom on this luxuriant hillside. The trail makes three switchbacks as it ascends the small hill. The summit is right above the interpretive center. There are expansive views to the north, south and west. An information sign tells about the formation of this lava headland about 14 million years ago. A fault lies about where the interpretive center is, and the eastern part of the peninsula was raised above the western part.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 day-use fee
  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 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
  • Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hike America: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking Oregon by Donna Lynn Ikenberry
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and the Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking Oregon's History by William L. Sullivan
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Oregon Nature Weekends by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • Oregon Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris
  • Fire, Faults, and Floods: A Road & Trail Guide Exploring the Origins of the Columbia River Basin by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

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.