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Shore Acres Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Revision as of 22:28, 9 December 2018 by Justpeachy (Talk | contribs)

View from Shore Acres State Park (Cheryl Hill)
  • Start point: Sunset Bay Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Sunset Bay Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 5 miles
  • High Point: 80 feet
  • Elevation gain: 160 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year-round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

This hike starts out at Sunset Bay State Park but quickly crosses the boundary into Shore Acres State Park. The trail passes through forest and travels along clifftops with spectacular views.

Cross the footbridge to the right of the restrooms and climb up through the forest. At half a mile you will reach an unsigned T-junction. Turn right on a short spur trail to visit a viewpoint with a bench. Retrace your steps back to the main trail and continue south. Numerous little viewpoints allow you to see the ocean, coves, and rock formations, and eventually the Cape Arago Lighthouse to the north.

At the one-mile mark, the trail passes the grassy Norton Gulch Group Camp area to the left and reaches the road where you will turn right. (If you wish, you may first follow the short steep trail down into Norton Gulch.) Walk along the road and just before the guard rail ends the trail heads back into the woods on your right.

The trail remains close to the road and soon passes a small roadside parking area. The trail turns away from the road into the forest on what was once the driveway for the Simpson mansion. Several hundred feet down this old road, at an unsigned junction take the trail on the right.

The trail soon follows the cliff edge, swinging back around to the south. Many viewpoints offer dramatic views, although fences and barriers are scarce so it is very important to hold on to little ones and keep pets on a leash. The dramatic rock formations you see are part of the 45-year-old Coaledo Formation. The rocks are tilted at angles because of the collision of the Juan De Fuca and North American plates.

The trail curves and winds away from the cliff and into the forest. At a T-junction turn right. The trail descends some steps into a gulley, and climbs back out via more steps. The trail skirts a cliff with more cool rock formations to your right. Cross the old tennis courts to another viewpoint with a bench where you can see across to the observatory. Continue on the trail, which soon reaches the parking area for Shore Acres State Park. Stay to the right to check out the Observatory, which stands on the site where Louis J. Simpson built a mansion in 1908 for his wife Cassie. She died in April 1921 and just three months later the mansion was destroyed in a fire. Simpson built a new home on the site in 1927, which was sold to state in 1942. The house was razed in 1948 and all signs of it are gone. The Observatory is a good place to get out of the wind, and interpretive signs inside explain the cultural and natural history of the area.

Before heading back check out the botanical garden on the south side of the parking area. Louis J. Simpson hired landscape gardener David Masterson to design this English-style garden with gravel paths and beds of flowers. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve the garden is decked out with millions of lights. (Check out the Friends of Shore Acres link below for more information about the holiday display.)

To return to your car, hike through the parking lot towards the entrance booth. Just west of the concrete entrance booth pick up the trail heading north into the woods. This is the former Simpson driveway. You will pass some concrete pillars. Soon you will be back at the roadside pullout where you can retrace you steps on the trail back to the Sunset Bay Day Use Area. Walking back along the road is not recommended as there are several spots with no shoulder.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Sunset Bay: Pets must be physically restrained at all times when not confined in a vehicle. Leashes must be no longer than six feet. All waste must be properly removed.
  • Shore Acres: No animals permitted outside of vehicles, with the exception of service animals.
  • No fee is charged at the Sunset Bay Day Use Area, but if you decide to start your hike at Shore Acres you will need to pay a $5 day use fee.


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Page 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.