Coos Bay to Bandon 1-23 to 1-25-19

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Coos Bay to Bandon 1-23 to 1-25-19

Post by bobcat » February 3rd, 2019, 9:10 pm

I spent a couple of days doing a few short hikes on the Coos County coast, all in state parks except for the national estuarine reserve.

1. Yoakam Point

This is an undeveloped state property north of Sunset Bay. There’s a meandering set of wet and rooty user trails around this point, which consists of an upturned marine terrace, once part of a large delta, that now manifests itself as a colorful set of cliffs and islands in vertical ridges of sandstone, siltstone, and shale. This is all part of the 40 million-year-old Coaledo Formation which runs to Cape Arago. The entire profile of Chief’s Island and the Cape Arago Lighthouse is visible from here.

Looking north to Yoakam Point.jpg
Chief's Island from Yoakam Point.jpg
Narrow bands of tilted rock, Yoakam Point.jpg
Cove and Bastendorff Beach, Yoakam Point.jpg
Trail at Yoakam Point.jpg

2. Sunset Bay to Shore Acres

I arrived at a tide too high to explore tide pools, but I did examine the big spruce root clusters at the mouth of Big Creek. One of the great Cascadia earthquakes 1,200 years ago sent this forest into the sea. Then I hiked the clifftop trail to get views of the Cape Arago Lighthouse, now the property of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw. Along the shoreline are otherworldly honeycomb formations and concretions of the Coaledo Formation. Lastly, I took a stroll around the botanical gardens at Shore Acres, where a few plants are blooming even in January!

Ancient spruce stumps, Sunset Bay State Park.jpg
View to the Cape Arago Lighthouse, Sunset Bay State Park.jpg
Tilted layers, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Tafoni formation, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Honeycombed protrusions, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Concretion rock, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
The cove at Simpson Beach, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Herons, Botanical Gardens, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Tea tree (Leptospermum), Botanical Gardens, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
In the All America Rose Garden, Botanical Gardens, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Bottle brush, Botanical Gardens, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Gazebo and Garden House, Botanical Gardens, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Fountain, Botanical Gardens, Shore Acres State Park.jpg
Old mansion driveway, Shore Acres State Park.jpg

3. Cape Arago

I took the old pack trail up to the Arago Peak ridge and then down past the abandoned World War II radar facility. By the time I arrived at the Simpson Reef Overlook, I could hear the braying of sea lions, but it was just past high tide and the few that were out of the water were hauled up under the deep shadow of Shell Island. There are usually four species here: northern elephant seals, California sea lions, Steller sea lions, and harbor seals. Surfers were enjoying the break at South Cove, where you could see all the way down to Cape Blanco and Humbug Mountain.

Seascape, Cape Arago.jpg
Looking across North Cove, Cape Arago.jpg
Cape Arago Pack Trail sign, Cape Arago.jpg
Descending the Cape Arago Pack Trail.jpg
White mushrooms, Cape Arago Pack Trail.jpg
World War II bunker, Cape Arago Pack Trail.jpg
View to Shore Acres, Cape Arago State Park.jpg
The sentinel spruces, Cape Arago State Park.jpg
Shell Island and Simpson Reef, Cape Arago State Park.jpg
Above South Cove, Cape Arago State Park.jpg

4. South Slough

There was a time when farmers drained these flats and converted them to pasture, and the hillsides were extensively logged. Now this reserve, established in 1974 and the founding property in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, has been in the process of restoring these slopes and inlets while also hosting educational and research projects. The loop here drops down slopes of secondary forest to boardwalks and views of the restored estuaries.

At Hidden Creek, Hidden Creek Trail, South Slough.jpg
Boardwalk in the marsh, Hidden Creek Trail, South Slough.jpg
View to the slough, Tunnel Trail, South Slough.jpg
Rotting pilings, Sloughside Trail, South Slough.jpg
Footbridge, Rhodes Marsh, North Creek Trail, South Slough.jpg

5. Fivemile Point

I parked at the Seven Devils State Recreation Site and walked the beach around Fivemile Point to Whiskey Run Creek. Whiskey Run gained instant fame in 1853, when John and Peter Groslius, sons of a French Hudson’s Bay Company fur trapper, discovered gold in the black sands. Within a year, about 2,000 miners were working the deposits and a million dollars worth of placer gold was extracted. The raucous mining town of Randolph was constructed atop the bluffs ¼ mile south of the creek. It all came to an abrupt end during a violent storm in 1854, when the deposits were scoured by wave action and then buried under tons of sand and debris. Later, around 1900, Chinese miners resumed placer activity at Whiskey Run Creek for a short time. Nowadays, people have better luck with the agates. Harlequin ducks and surf scoters bobbed in the surf off Fivemile Point.

Gorse-covered knob, Merchants Beach.jpg
Rock needle, Merchants Beach.jpg
At Fivemile Point, Whiskey Run Beach.jpg
Surf scoters and harlequin ducks, Fivemile Point.jpg
Dragon spines, Whiskey Run Beach.jpg

6. Bullards Beach

This was also a beach hike along a driftwood strewn beach to the 1896 Coquille River Lighthouse at the mouth of the Coquille River. I attempted to hike the river bank on the river side of the spit, but was eventually thwarted by several deep inlets and a lot of spiny gorse.

Foamy Bullards Beach.jpg
Coquille River Lighthouse, Bullards Beach.jpg
On the Coquille River, Coquille Spit.jpg
River rocks, Coquille Spit.jpg
Gorse (Ulex europaeus), Coquille Spit.jpg
Forest mushrooms, Coquille Spit.jpg
Licorice fern sori (Polypodium glycyrrhiza), Coquille Spit.jpg
Inlet on Coquille Spit.jpg

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Re: Coos Bay to Bandon 1-23 to 1-25-19

Post by pablo » February 4th, 2019, 9:56 pm

Nice report, thx. I always like your posts, nice locations, photos, narrative, a bit of history, interesting geological facts - like an article out of National Geographic.
The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

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Re: Coos Bay to Bandon 1-23 to 1-25-19

Post by walrus » February 5th, 2019, 7:09 am

I always love a Coos/Curry coastal report, thank you. Grew up down there and had many adventures in the tidepools at South Cove (highlight: octopus guarding her eggs) and Sunset Bay (highlight: a pair of orca that delighted me and terrified my mother by their proximity to shore) and paddling down the South Slough to Charleston.

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Re: Coos Bay to Bandon 1-23 to 1-25-19

Post by Splintercat » February 5th, 2019, 5:53 pm

Nice South Coast tour, John! We traveled through there last September, but were en route to the Redwoods and didn't have much time to explore. It's so very lonely compared to the North Coast!

BTW, hope you were able to stop at Edgewaters in Bandon for some seafood -- a nice, rustic restaurant with an excellent harbor view across to the old Bandon Lighthouse. Part of our ritual when passing thru.

Tom :-)

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