Hiking on the Oregon coast offers plenty of opportunities for those looking for a fun family hike, a strenuous workout, or an overnight backpacking trip. The topography of the coast changes from north to south. In the northern portion, from Reedsport south to Coos Bay, the land is fairly flat and dominated by the Oregon Dunes. South of Coos Bay, the land becomes more mountainous, with fewer beaches and more scenic cliffs. The most dramatic sections are from just north of Port Orford, south through Gold Beach and onto Brookings. Finally, the section south of Brookings and onto Crescent City is once again mostly flat although not nearly as sandy as the dunes on the north.
Oregon Coast Trail
The jewel is the Oregon Coast Trail, which traverses the entire length of the coast and continues south as the California Coastal Trail. Access to this trail is easy, with ample parking at several points along US Route 101. This allows the casual visitor a chance to park the car and take the entire family out on a short hike to discover the beauty of the coast that one cannot see by car. For those who are up to more of a challenge, it is possible to park, then hike for several days and camp along the trail or stay at area motels. Portions of this trail that cross rivers or creeks can be very difficult during or immediately after the rainy season presenting serious challenges to dedicated hikers.
Rogue River and Siskiyou Mountains Hiking
A short distance to the east are the Siskiyou Mountains and the National Forest. These offer remote hiking and backpacking. There are also several wilderness areas including the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, Grassy Knob Wilderness, Copper Salmon Wilderness, Wild Rogue Wilderness, and the Siskiyou Wilderness in northern California. Yet the most popular hike into the interior is the Rogue River Trail. This trail is especially well maintained by the Forest Service and the BLM.
GPS Hiking and Google Earth
The availability of inexpensive GPS units has caused their popularity to explode. This website is making available downloadable GPX and KMZ (or KML) files for many of the hikes. GPX files are uploadable to your GPS units to display the path of the hike. KMZ or KML files are available for use with Google Earth to show the path of the hike as well as to playback a movie of the hike. Free maps for GPS units are available at Northwest Trails.
Hiking near Reedsport – Winchester Bay
Hiking in the Reedsport and Winchester Bay area means tackling the scenic Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The dunes are massive with stunning views. The hikes can be easy, or extremely challenging, with several hikes over the Sahara like dunes. Some hikes are around picturesque lakes or marshes, while others are a march to the sea.
The Oregon Coast Trail also travels through the dunes with most of the trail on the wide sandy, secluded beach, perfect for those who wish to backpack along the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
There are a large number of campsites located in the dunes. Some cater to quiet backpacking while others are for those who wish to ride the dunes in an ATV, so select carefully.
Where to find the best hikes
Bluebill Lake Trail
Bluebill Lake Trail is an easy 1 & 1/4 mile hike around Bluebill Lake. The forty-acre lake is dry much of the year, but the hike offers ample opportunities to view wetland habitat. The hike is located next to Bluebill Campground.
Directions: From Coos Bay / North Bend, proceed north on route 101 for 1.5 miles. From Reedsport, proceed south for 22 miles. Turn west at the Horsfall Dunes and Beach road sign at Jordan Cove Road and proceed 1 mile, turning right on Transpacific Highway. Travel 100 feet, turning right on Horsfall Beach Road. Travel 1 & 1/2 miles down Horsfall Beach Road to a left turn.
Hall – Schuttpelz Lake Hike
Hall / Schuttpelz Lake # 1357 trail offers a
The John Dellenback Trail
The John Dellenback Trail is a 5-mile round trip hike, starting at route 101, that climbs the dunes to the sea. The elevation climbs from 100 to 1500 feet. The hike starts out easy enough, with a short trip that travels through the edge of Eel Creek Campground. Then the challenge begins as the “trail” crosses the wide open dunes where the markings are just a few well spaced wooden posts. Hikers need to be careful to keep the posts in mind in order to find their way back to the trailhead. It is best hiked earlier in the morning before the winds pick up.
The trailhead is located near Lakeside, just south of mile marker 222 on Route 101 in the heart of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Oregon Coast Trail
The Oregon Coast Trail starts at the Oregon / California state line, south of Brookings – Harbor and heads north beyond Reedsport. Enjoy mile upon mile of stunning scenery while hiking up to spectacular capes, then down to lonely isolated beaches. Parts of the trail are passable only at low tide, so be sure to carry your tide tables.
More information is available at the visitor centers along the coast and through the Oregon State Parks website.
A particularly enjoyable section of the Oregon Coast Trail is the portion through the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, located just north of Brookings.
Hiking near Gold Beach – Port Orford
Take the family for a nature walk down from Cape Sebastian, challenge Humbug Mountain or set out for overnight backpack trip in the Rogue River Trail or Illinois River Trail through the Siskiyou National Forest and the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
The Rogue River offers several hiking opportunities. The Rogue River Walk is a day trail (no camping) from just east of Gold Beach. The Lower Rogue River Trail 1168 is another day use trail from just east of Lobster Creek to Agness. The Rogue River Hiking Trail is a backpackers dream, starting east of Agness and heading into the wild and scenic portion of the river.
Port Orford Heads State Park and Museum
The Port Orford Lifeboat Station and Museum was constructed in 1934 and remained in service until 1970. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park has excellent hiking trails and beach access affording spectacular views up and down the Pacific Coast with opportunities for picnicking and marine wildlife and whale watching. There is a short (0.3 mile) trail from the museum out to the site of the former spotting tower. A slightly longer trail (0.4 mile) returns from the tower site to the museum and offers views of the former boathouse that is worthwhile if only because the challenges of launching a boat becomes readily apparent.
The Port Orford Lifeboat Station and Museum is free and is open April-October, Thursday-Monday, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Admission is free. A 36-foot motor lifeboat used at this station is on display outside of the museum.
The biggest challenge is finding the turn to drive to this hidden gem. From US 101, turn west on 9th street, then left on Port Orford Highway / Coast Guard Hill. The turn off of US 101 can be spotted from the “Tsunami Evacuation Route” sign – one of the few that points towards the ocean. The museum parking lot is at the end of the short up-hill, winding road.