South Oregon Coast & Samuel Boardman State Park

April 5-6, 1986

Some of the most dramatic scenery on the Oregon Coast occurs in Samuel H. Boardman State Park between Brookings and Gold Beach. As it’s a lengthy drive (450 miles from Eugene) we divided the hike into two days. It could be longer as extra segments could, in future, include Humbug Mountain south of Port Orford, and south of Gold Beach the trail down Cape Sebastian and on the beach to the Pistol River.

Our group left Eugene at 8 a.m. on Saturday, joined up with Dee, our Bandon member who was also our expert on the trail which she has hiked so often, and drove south on Hwy 101. We stopped for a noon picnic at Arches viewpoint, just north of our starting point. We then drove down to secure our campsites at Harris Beach State Park, just north of Brookings, an attractive campground whose parameters we explored that evening and after breakfast on Sunday. Skies were bright and sunny and the wind was brisk and fortunately at our backs as we hiked. At 2 p.m. we shuttled a car to House Rock viewpoint then drove to Whalehead Beach where we commenced walking southward for about five miles. Low tide made the beach attractively wide and the offshore rock stacks nearly accessible. The creeks were full, but plentifully supplied with rocks for crossing; the recommended rubber boots turned out to be unnecessary; next day we reverted to sneakers. After a mile and a half the trail leaves the beach and gains elevation, crossing meadows and several recent landslides giving evidence to a very rainy spring.

The trails through the forest portions were in good condition and the varied terrain made for interesting walking. This was increasingly the case the following day, when we shuttled cars to Whalehead Beach and commenced hiking at Miners Creek access. Vistas encompassed three-crowned offshore-island rocks, natural bridges and caves, pocket beaches and sea lions—or were those seals swimming down there? That was decidedly a big sea lion, sunning himself on his back in his own private beach. Along the oceanside cliffs and in the meadows Indian paint brush and many other wild flowers—more blue flags than usual— were seen, and in the wooded areas the salal was just coming into the pink of its bloom. At several points the trail lead back to the highway for a short time, as in certain places there is simply no room for a trail on the steep and eroded headland approaches. One such highway stretch took us over the tallest bridge in Oregon, and the last leg of the hike took us over the Indian Sands area of surrealist dune formations mingled with naturally sand-blasted rock. Another stretch of wooded headland and we were back at Whalehead Beach where we said our farewells to beach and companions who included Dee Bray, Barbara Chin, Shirley Froyd, Lee Hatch, Harlow Perrin, Mary Ellen West, Fred Schepman, Maxine Hall and leaders Jack and Dallas Cole.

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