Oregon’s South Coast 2-06 to 2-08-18

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Oregon’s South Coast 2-06 to 2-08-18

Post by bobcat » February 16th, 2018, 2:39 pm

Upon my retirement last year, I was informed by numerous unsolicited advisors that I needed to keep myself busy. Those admonishments wormed their way into my cranium and, within a short span, I ended up composing lists of “projects.” Some of these were hiking projects, systematic forays that will take place over the next few years while both knees function in semi-disciplined fashion. You don’t know, when you start out, how a list will end up, but for one of them I arbitrarily decided I would hike in all Oregon’s state parks over 100 acres (at least the ones I haven’t visited in, say, the last 10 years). I thought, well, most state parks are quite small, so there might be 30 or 40 that fit that criterion. It turns out there are 102 . . .

I foresaw a weather window that took me to balmy 70 degree + days in Oregon’s banana belt. My wife could not just drop everything and accompany me, so it was a solo enterprise, but it also meant I would be out from 8:00 to 5:00 walking my socks off. The startlingly bright but low sun compromised picture-taking somewhat, but it was a warm experience overall.

Alfred A. Loeb State Park

This state park was created to preserve a 200-year-old myrtle grove on the Chetco River, and it’s named after one of the original land donors. The highlight, though, is that you can hike from the state park to an exclave of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and admire some of the northernmost redwoods in the world. A nature trail takes you around this redwood forest, which is not a relic stand, but a healthy hillside grove (surrounded by clearcuts of course) with trees of all ages. The biggest one is right along the trail, supposedly 800-900 years old, 35 feet in circumference, and 290 feet tall, surely making it one of Oregon’s tallest trees (The tallest tree in Oregon is the Doerner Douglas-fir, which is also the tallest tree in the Americas that is not a redwood).
Trailhead, Alfred Loeb State Park.jpg
Mossy maple and Chetco River, Alfred Loeb State Park.jpg
Willow bar on the river, Alfred Loeb State Park.jpg
Myrtlewood and alders, Alfred Loeb State Park.jpg
Redwood needles, Redwood Nature Trail.jpg
Redwood and myrtle, Redwood Nature Trail.jpg
The tallest tree, Redwood Nature Trail.jpg
Redwood forest, Redwood Nature Trail.jpg
Inside the burned tree, Redwood Nature Trail.jpg
The absolute northernmost redwood, in fact, is in a trailless sliver of the Alfred A. Loeb State Park adjacent to the national forest parcel.

Harris Beach State Park

When my family lived in Ashland, this was our go-to coastal camping spot. It’s almost in Brookings, but you can fashion a 2 ½ mile loop using the beach, which backs a fantastic array of sea stacks and one natural arch. Offshore is Goat Island (also called Bird Island), at 21 acres Oregon’s largest coastal island. It is home to 100,000 nesting sea birds in the spring and summer, including tufted puffins and Leach’s storm petrels. Quartz-veined rhyolite intrusions in the sandstone add color to the rocky landscape. There’s a trail up Harris Butte, spruce forested on the south side and carpeted with flowering gorse on the north side. Views from here extend to Point St. George in California and Cape Ferrelo to the north.
Goat Island, Harris Beach State Park.jpg
Goat Island, Harris Beach State Park (1).jpg
Arch Rock, Harris Beach State Park.jpg
View north from Harris Butte, Harris Beach State Park.jpg
Goat Island from Harris Butte, Harris Beach State Park.jpg
Gorsey Harris Butte, Harris Beach State Park.jpg
Flowering gorse, Harris Beach State Park.jpg
Samuel A. Boardman State Scenic Corridor: North Island to Arch Rock

I had wanted to begin south of the Thomas Creek Bridge, Oregon’s highest bridge at 345 feet above the bottom of the chasm, and walk across it, but right now there is only one-way traffic, and construction equipment is taking up the other lane. I began at the North Island Viewpoint Trailhead for the Oregon Coast Trail. The route north from here follows an erratic path, descending down a steep slope, rising again to Highway 101, and offering numerous distracting spurs for the curious. First, I took the spur down to the viewpoint over North Island, where I could get a partial sighting of the Thomas Creek Bridge. Next, it was the OCT down to China Beach, which cannot be walked at high tide – I waited until a set of waves receded and ran around the point that blocked passage. A scattered array of sandstone stacks are arranged offshore here.
North Island from Thomas Point, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
China Beach and Deer Point from Thomas Point, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
China Beach stacks, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
The point, China Beach, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
OCT tag above China Beach, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
North end of China Beach, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
After slogging 11 switchbacks up from China Beach, it was back to the highway. I then got distracted by an almost vertical, very rooty user trail that dumped me on top of one of the natural bridges. There are apparently seven in the area, but these two were once entrances to a sea cave whose roof collapsed, leaving a completely enclosed cove with two openings to the sea. Scrambling back up, I passed the normal viewing platform for the natural bridges, and then headed down to Thunder Rock Cove (a.k.a. Seal Cove). There’s another natural bridge here, and a loop that takes you down to Miners Beach (a.k.a. Secret Beach) and its waterfall. The OCT meanders along some, taking you down and away from the highway when it can, and I fetched up at Arch Rock for more views of stacks and rugged coastal cliffs.
The natural bridges, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
Arch, Thunder Rock Cove, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
Miners Beach Falls, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
Miners Beach and stacks, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
Looking south from Deer Point, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
Island view, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
View south from Windy Point, Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
Arch Rock and Yellow Rock, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
Stack and Hooskanaden Point, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
This was 5 ½ miles one-way and my last hike of the day, and I needed a beer soon. I knew the crossing at China Beach would be under water, so I decided to hike back along 101, actually not such an unpleasant enterprise. Where the OCT was close to the road, I took it. Otherwise, there was generally a good gravel tread on the "safe" side of the crash barriers. You get a different perspective on things walking a road than driving it, and I passed above a little scene that put my heart in my mouth. I had read stories of people (or bodies) trapped in cars out of sight above busy highways for days, so I approached with some trepidation: air bag deployed, no gory splatters, the car resting peacefully down the steep slope. Back at my own vehicle, I calculated I had shaved half the distance by taking the most direct route.
Resting place, Highway 101, Samuel H. Boardman SSC.jpg
Samuel H. Boardman was the first superintendent of Oregon State Parks, and a major advocate for preserving coastal beauty for the public. He was also the founder of the town of Boardman in Morrow County, Oregon.

Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor and Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint

I parked at the south trailhead on Cape Sebastian, 700 feet above the ocean, and hiked the OCT 1 ¾ miles down to Hunters Cove. The cape is forested with Sitka spruce with a skirt of shore pine woods. It’s a 90 mile view from the trailhead: north to Humbug Mountain and Cape Blanco and south to Crook Point and Point St. George. The sandstone shoreline of the cape is riven with deep churning chasms and pockmarked with tafoni formations, a honeycomb-like weathering of the rock caused by dissolving salt crystals.
Looking north to Gold Beach, Humbug Mountain and Cape Blanco from Cape Sebastian.jpg
Evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), Cape Sebastian.jpg
Salal (Gaultheria shallon), Cape Sebastian.jpg
Snow queen (Synthyris reniformis), Cape Sebastian.jpg
Churning chasm, Cape Sebastian.jpg
Tafoni rocks, Cape Sebastian.jpg
A rope assists you down to the beach at Hunters Cove, and Hunters Island looms offshore. The “hunters” here were 19th century seamen who slaughtered sea otters, which have the densest fur of any animal. The otters were extinct in Oregon by 1907 and have never permanently returned. The steep beach bluff consisted of thin exposed layers of rock tilted upward. These are alternate layers of sandstone and shale in a formation known as turbidite, which resulted from layer after layer of debris flows off an ancient river delta into the deeper ocean. Then I walked along Myers Beach and through the array of large and looming sea stacks for which this area is noted. Pairs of Canada geese have taken up residence on some for the season. From the last two tall stacks stranded on the beach, it was about another mile and a half to the mouth of the Pistol River, named after, well, a pistol that a negligent vigilante misplaced here during the Rogue Indian Wars. Cape Sebastian was named by explorer Sebastian Vizcaino in 1603, not after himself (he said) but for St. Sebastian.
Descent to Hunters Cove, Cape Sebastian.jpg
Turbidite layers, Hunters Cove, Cape Sebastian.jpg
Hunters Island, Hunters Cove, Cape Sebastian.jpg
Beach at Hunters Cove, Cape Sebastian.jpg
Cave Rock, Myers Creek Beach.jpg
The display at Dolan Point, Pistol River State Park.jpg
Beach stacks at Dolan Point, Pistol River State Park.jpg
Geese on stack, Dolan Point, Pistol River State Park.jpg
Intertidal fauna, Dolan Point, Pistol River State Park.jpg
View to Dolan Point, Pistol River State Park.jpg
Mouth of the Pistol River, Pistol River State Park.jpg

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retired jerry
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Re: Oregon’s South Coast 2-6 to 2-08-18

Post by retired jerry » February 16th, 2018, 2:57 pm

Good idea. 102 parks???

Mine is to do one backpack trip each month. Which I've done since 2006. A couple months trips got delayed to the next month because of weather. Occasionally I just car camped.

Not a good place to park your car there :)

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Re: Oregon’s South Coast 2-6 to 2-08-18

Post by bobcat » February 16th, 2018, 3:08 pm

Samuel A. Boardman State Scenic Corridor: Lone Ranch Beach to House Rock

Ha-ha. Jerry was on this and posted before I was finished . . .

I parked at Lone Ranch Beach and, instead of taking the official OCT, I found the trail that leads through the moor on the western slope of Cape Ferrelo and offers more expansive views. Lone Ranch Beach backs a stack-filled bay, and as you get higher on the open sward, brilliant with headland wildflowers come spring, the views get ever more expansive. House Rock rises like a dark tower offshore. Cape Ferrelo is named after Bartolomé Ferrelo, the chief pilot of the Spanish-employed Portuguese navigator Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, an associate of Hernán Cortés, who in 1542 became the first European to explore the west coast of California. After Cabrillo died of gangrene from an infection, Ferrelo succeeded him in command and sailed farther north to reach the area of Cape Blanco the next year.
Lone Ranch Beach, Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
Coast strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), Cape Ferrelo, Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
House Rock Point from Cape Ferrelo, Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
From the parking area on Cape Ferrelo, I wound along on the OCT until I spotted a definite tread departing to the left. This took me to a steep slope of sand, which I slid and skidded down. I arrived above a secluded beach and enjoyed the dark stacks to myself until it was time to slog back up the slope and continue on to the House Rock Viewpoint. There’s a memorial to Samuel Boardman here, but you can’t see House Rock anymore (The trees have grown up), and the best view is towards Whalehead Beach to the north.
Jabba the Hutt, OCT, Cape Ferrelo, Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
Grisette (Amanita vaginata), Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
OCT north of Cape Ferrelo, Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
End of Sandslide Beach, Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
View to Whalehead Beach, Crook Point, Cape Sebastian from House Rock Point, Samuel Boardman SSC.jpg
Otter Point State Recreation Site

This rather obscure park is on the Old Coast Road north of Brookings. The view north is over (ho-hum) a stack-filled bay to Hubbard Mound, Lookout Rock, Humbug Mountain, and Cape Blanco. A trail leads out over the soft deposits that compose the “icing” on Otter Point’s double-layered cake: You need to take care on the edges here as there are overhangs all around. From here, Point St. George in California is visible and far offshore (with binoculars) you can see the decommissioned Point St. George Light. Out to sea are the rocky islets of the Rogue River Reef, the most interesting being the tower and pinnacle of Needle Rock, looking like a direct transplant from Monument Valley.
View to Hubbard Mound, Otter Point.jpg
Looking to the Rogue River Reef from Otter Point.jpg
Needle Rock and Double Rock, Rogue River Reef, from Otter Point.jpg
Hubbard Mound and Humbug Mountain from Otter Point.jpg
Oregon-myrtle (Umbellularia californica), Otter Point.jpg
To make this a longer hike, I decided to head south along Bailey Beach to the mouth of the Rogue. The OCT takes you down to the wide sandy strand, which allows vehicle access. One vehicle had been here earlier, but I didn’t see another human until I got to the North Jetty. Looking back to Otter Point, you can see there’s actually a tunnel right through it, and the soft terrace layer overlies a vertically folded formation of alternating sandstone/shale layers. Once at the jetty, I admired a whimsical little village inhabited by a single sea gull*.

*Edit: I just found out that this "village" is actually Fort Feline, a Habitat for Felinity project by local residents for the feral cats who live around there. Apparently, Gold Beach's animal shelter doesn't take cats for lack of space.
Arch + terrace deposits over shale-sandstone, Otter Point.jpg
Looking to Otter Point from Bailey Beach.jpg
Rogue River Reef from Bailey Beach.jpg
Gull sentinels, Bailey Beach.jpg
Moon jelly (Aurelia sp.), Bailey Beach.jpg
Lighthouse, Rogue River North Jetty, Gold Beach.jpg
Skunk, Rogue River North Jetty, Gold Beach.jpg
B & B, Rogue River North Jetty, Gold Beach.jpg
View to the highway bridge, Rogue River North Jetty, Gold Beach.jpg
Sisters Rocks

I’m not sure if this is a state park, state scenic area, or what, because it’s not on the State Parks website. There’s no state park sign on the road, just at the two parking areas. It came into the state system in 2009. It’s also not over 100 acres, but I thought I’d check it out anyway. There are two short approaches down to the three stacks known as Sisters Rocks. One is a trail, and the other is the old quarry road. Both take you down to an area between Big and Middle Sister (Little Sister is offshore). First, I looked into the gullet of Big Sister’s sea cave, a roiling cauldron with its roof collapsed. I scrambled around on the rocks to check out the three passages (I’ll call them the Maws of Cerberus) which carry the surf into the gloomy depths.
View from the trail, Sisters Rocks.jpg
Cove north of Sisters Rocks.jpg
Gullet of sea cave, Big Sister, Sisters Rocks.jpg
Maws of Cerberus, Sisters Rocks.jpg
Then I dropped down to Frankport Beach. Frankport was once the site of a dock which uploaded tanoak bark from the area for transport to a tannery in San Francisco. The operation continued for about 12 years until 1905, and some rusting components lie scattered among the driftwood. Before the place was named Frankport, the sheltered cove had been a landing spot for eager prospectors in the 1850s and 1860s seeking their fortunes in gold from southern Oregon’s rivers. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the area was the site of a rock quarry. The small, sandy beach offers views to Sisters Rocks as well as numerous sandstone formations with colorful intrusions of rhyolite veined with quartz.
Middle and Big Sister from Frankport Beach, Sisters Rocks.jpg
Frankport Beach, Sisters Rocks.jpg
Quartz-veined rhylolite, Frankport Beach, Sisters Rocks.jpg
View to the Sisters, Frankport Beach, Sisters Rocks.jpg
Quartz veins, Frankport Beach, Sisters Rocks.jpg
Looking down on Frankport Beach, Sisters Rocks.jpg

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Re: Oregon’s South Coast 2-06 to 2-08-18

Post by gratefultrails » February 19th, 2018, 12:47 pm

Wow, great comprehensive info in this trip report. Never been to the S Oregon coast, but it looks like an interesting area where the flora of North and South come together. It's cool how many trees have their northern limit in Oregon: Redwood, myrtle, sugar pine, black oak, incense cedar, etc. And if the ecology is not interesting enough, all those seastacks down there look quite scenic too.

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Re: Oregon’s South Coast 2-06 to 2-08-18

Post by Webfoot » February 24th, 2018, 4:49 am

That's not a bad guide to the southern coast. Thanks.

One thing: that's no skunk!

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Re: Oregon’s South Coast 2-06 to 2-08-18

Post by bobcat » February 24th, 2018, 3:29 pm

Webfoot wrote:One thing: that's no skunk!
Yep, I think you're on to something, Paul. I've been a little shaky on the IDs lately. It is most probably a likeness of the dreaded Rogue River honey badger (Mellivora perfidaflumina).

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