Oregon coast adventure
August 11, 2008 9:54 PM   Subscribe

Camping, surfing and hiking in the Oregon Coast?

It's a road trip! And we're leaving tomorrow! Our plans have changed at the last minute. We're leaving from Vancouver BC, driving south for a few days, then looping back up to Portland. I've seen the zillions of previous threads on this topic but have a few specific questions about what to do as we go down the coast.

1. We're planning to camp on the coast. Anything we should know? I expect we'll find state parks everywhere but it also appears from this thread that you can camp on the beach legally. Anyone done this? Know any good spots?

2. We want to spend a day or two surfing. We're beginners and would need to rent gear. Where could we go?

3. Is there good hiking near the coast? We're thinking of doing a nice big hike, maybe even an overnight hike. What are the best spots?

posted by PercussivePaul to Travel & Transportation around Oregon (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Oswald West is the only surf beach I know of, rentable gear is in Manzanita.
posted by msamye at 9:56 PM on August 11, 2008

ecola state park. there is a hike in campsite with little cabins with bunks. it's a trail overlooking the beach, a steep hike but not a very long one. at the bottom of the trail is indian beach where you can surf. there are other hikes in the park as well. manzanita is nearby and you can rent surf gear from there.
posted by violetk at 10:07 PM on August 11, 2008

Oddly enough, I've been told that the best place to surf in Oregon is Hood River. That's wind surfing, of course. The current goes west and the wind usually blows east and the river is wide, so you can surf back and forth across all day.
posted by Class Goat at 10:52 PM on August 11, 2008

South of Lincoln City not too far from Newport is Otter Rock. The surfing community is large enough there that I don't know the name of the beach South of Devil's Punchbowl - we've always called it Surfer Beach. Lincoln City has a good number of surfer shops that rent gear.

There's some good hikes up by Cannon Beach, but I've always found that starting at the top of one beach and walking as far as I can has been a very good hike, depending on the beach I start at.

I'm sure you know that camping on the coast, no matter the time of year, is cold at night, so make sure you have sleeping bags rated for cool weather. I've done it in bad ones before, but I was super cold all night and didn't sleep well. Otherwise, the campsites I've done have been lovely and inexpensive.

Ecola Park / Oswald West had some nice campspots, but be aware that due to a lot of falling old trees, the camping portion of it is closed for the rest of the season. The hiking part is still open, but they are starting to talk about closing that down too due to the problems with the trees.
posted by ugf at 11:40 PM on August 11, 2008

Linking the article I read about the closure of camping in Oswald West. I'm particularly disappointed because it was on my list for yet-this-summer.
posted by ugf at 11:50 PM on August 11, 2008

Tillamook Head is a good hike. (That's the one VioletK is talking about.)
posted by Class Goat at 12:05 AM on August 12, 2008

Here's a nice hike too, also not too far from Tillamook.
posted by liet at 7:56 AM on August 12, 2008

Response by poster: Sounds great!
Anything further south we should check out? I think we're going down just into northern california.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:20 AM on August 12, 2008

Cape Perpetua is a great area on the coast. The campground proper there gets crowded, but about 10 miles south of that, the Rock Creek Campground gets less pressure.

As for surfing, none much local to that, but Yachats, just north of the Cape Perpetua area, is the nicest town on the coast, by far, just to hang in and beachcomb at.

There are a couple marked shell middens in the Cape Perpetua area, and too many other nice things to link. Also a couple unmarked shell middens on the beach south of the Yachats river. Most of the surfing is north of Newport. There is a little bit of it in Florence, at the jetty of the Siuslaw river. It can also get sorta sharky there also, if the salmon or steelhead are running, bringing seals around.

Be warned, 101 in the summer in Oregon is bumper to bumper with RV's and occupancy issues in campgrounds CAN pop up.

The site for reserving at Cape P, and many other campgrounds.
posted by Danf at 8:40 AM on August 12, 2008

Cleanline Surf Shop Rents surf gear. They have locations in Seaside and Cannon Beach(Close to Oswald West - Short Sands).
There is also great surfing and a nice beach in Pacific City. These folks could probably help you there...
As for camping, I always just post up right on the beach in one of the more residential areas. I think as long as you aren't camped right by the boardwalk, nobody will hassle you. I have heard that it is illegal to camp on the beach, but you are allowed to be there all night, so maybe just set your tents up a bit later in the day. Enjoy...Camping on the beach and waking up with the waves a hundred feet away is so amazing.
posted by smithygreg at 9:07 AM on August 12, 2008

This may be assuming you know too little, but cars + sand == stuckness. There are out-of-the-way beaches along 101 that you can drive onto, but if your car wasn't designed for sand traction, you might be in for some interesting times.
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:18 PM on August 12, 2008

Response by poster: OK! We're back from our trip. Thanks for all the advice. Here's what we did:

Day 1: Drove past Cannon City to Manzanita. Arrived after sunset, looked unsuccessfully for a state park to camp in (there aren't many and a few are closed as mentioned above), ended up sleeping on the beach in Manzanita illegally. We had a lovely night under the stars hearing the quiet surf. Woke at 7 and got out of there, no-one bothered us.

Day 2: Looked for surf shops in Manzanita, found none. Went back to Cannon Beach and found two. We ended up going to Cannon Beach Surf (I think) though we saw Cleanline as well, both looked OK. Rented gear. On the advice of the girl at the shop, went surfing at Indian Beach in Ecola State Park, had a great time. Cannon Beach is a nice little town, a little rich and full of tourists, but quaint; the beach is really nice. In the afternoon, we hit the road and drove through Tillamook and Newport and got to Yachats in evening. We tried several campgrounds but they were all full so we decided to try the beach again. On the advice of a local at a shop we parked here, built a fire and were prepared to camp... but got freaked out by the pounding surf which was a little too close; we had no idea of the tide schedule and we did not feel safe. Plus it was really damp and windy. So we got back to the car and found a motel.

Day 3: Stopped for a delicious breakfast at a little country cafe which I am reasonably sure is this one -- it was definitely Someone and Nina's because Nina took our order. It was south of Yachats on the west side of the highway. All ingredients are homemade - the bread and pie is out of this world. We were near the dunes so this must have been in Florence. A local at the diner told us of a good hike to a secluded lake nearby. There are plenty of lakes in and around the forest and the dunes, lots of great places.

At North Bend we followed signs to Ocean Beaches and State Parks, through Coos Bay and Chareleston, and ended up on the Cape Arago Highway. Right where I linked there is a pile of rocks in the water that are a favoured spot for all kinds of seals and sea lions -- easily hundreds of them were lounging and the cacophony of barking is easily audible from the shoreline. We slept in the Sunset Bay campground along that road which was just a basic state park but very nice.

Day 4: Mostly driving but we spent a bit of time in Coos Bay and North Bend which are nice historic towns. We made it to Crescent City, CA and camped near the Redwoods. That afternoon we saw some giant old trees in Jedediah Smith State Park (one of few places that has old-growth redwoods according to the park info center we visited; the national park a bit to the south is second-growth); Stout Grove especially is hushed and magical, like walking in Myst. We camped in Mill Creek, another nice state park, and left for the interstate that morning on our way to Portland.

I hope all this is of interest to someone. Thanks for all the advice!
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:54 PM on August 20, 2008

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