Just a short report on the new stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) from Manzanita to the south trailhead for Neahkahnie Mountain. I attended a handful of TKO work parties during the beginning of this trail’s construction, and the section was officially opened near the end of last year.
The trail begins across from the junction of Nehalem Road with Highway 101, with plenty of space to park on the south side of Nehalem Road (although most locals will just walk up). The new section is 2.2 miles long, and the land for most of the route is part of the Neahkahnie Headwaters Preserve, a property of the Lower Nehalem Community Trust. The first section, about a mile long and rather unprepossessing, follows a phone line corridor very close to Highway 101. It’s a grassy track that snakes in and out of the verging spruce forest for a little variety.
The next section winds up through a clearcut, with its slash piles and foxglove display in the summer. You can see up to the forested slopes of Neahkahnie Mountain, and there are views of the coastal hills above the Nehalem and Kilchis rivers. The final section plunges through deep coastal forest. (Yes, I well remember hacking through those eight-foot high salmonberry thickets!) It passes a grove of the biggest cascara trees I’ve ever seen (they look very much like alders when the leaves are gone).
A new kiosk stands at the north end of this new section. It’s 100 yards down the road past a gate to the south trailhead for Neahkahnie Mountain, which has been exceptionally busy these last few months. (The north approach has been closed to just below the viewpoint due to a surfeit of downed and hazardous trees.) A whole different kind of clientele was using the stretch to the viewpoint on the rock spine. The new OCT section seems to be used almost exclusively by locals, who must greatly appreciate it, while the regular Neahkahnie stretch attracts visitors from afar.
Driving back, I stopped in to examine the new boardwalk to Rockaway Beach’s Old Growth Cedar Preserve. The new parking area on Highway 101 solves the issue of visitors parking in neighborhoods, and the boardwalk, half a mile long, courses above a swamp now sprouting the bright yellow spathes of skunk-cabbage. The star of this tiny remnant of an old-growth coastal marsh is 50 feet in diameter and hundreds of years old (no core samples have been taken). An elevated viewing platform surrounds its base. If you still want to dip your footwear into the organic bog matter, there’s a lollipop option that burrows back to the boardwalk through the salal.
This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
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This is a low point in the trail where some water might collect. The flow would be from left to right (there's small culvert there). The stone circle allows water to pool on the side of the trail (rather than on it) before percolating down. (It's uphill both ways and the volume of water is small.)
Bobcat, thank you for your well illustrated report. Maybe some day soon!
I keep making protein shakes but they always turn out like margaritas.