The Pacific Northwest is famously stunning and is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in North America. Driving along the coastline in Oregon is one of the most rewarding road trips in the country. Or to take things up a notch or two, one can also hike the full length of it. Oregon boasts some of the most dramatic coastlines in the United States and spanning its length is the Oregon Coast Trail.
The Oregon Coast Trail requires some commitment and planning and is a long-distance hiking route along the Pacific coast of Oregon. It traces the coast from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border taking one right through some of the most gorgeous landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. If one would like to hike the ultimate trail, then consider hiking the full Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico.
Length And Trail Type Of The Oregon Coast Trail
The official coastal guide cites its full length as 382 miles or 615 km. The route itself is mixed, around 39% is on the beach, 41% is on paved roads of some sort, and 20% is on trails and dirt roads (although only around 10% is on the shoulders of U.S. 101, county roads, and city streets). While most of the route is on the beach, some segments wind through state parks and public lands. There are also parts of the route that run through private property.
Estuaries cut into the route in places requiring long go-arounds, but private ferries can significantly shorten the trip. The trail is not a different one, with difficulty ranging from easy to moderate - it's just very long. The full length (if walked without shortcuts using recommended water ferries) is around 425 miles.
- Length: 382 Miles With Ferries, 425 Miles Without Ferries
- Ferries: There Are Recommended Ferries To Cut Across Estuaries
A Majestic Trail of Natural Beauty
"The majesty of Oregon's 362-mile coastline unfolds around every bend along the Oregon Coast Trail, also known as the OCT. Hikers cross sandy beaches, meander through forest-shaded corridors, traverse majestic headlands and pass through 28 coastal towns."State Parks Oregon
Much of the Oregon coast is bordered by temperate rainforest (so bring a rain jacket). Much of the rainforest is second or third growth. There are many sections that also meander their way through old-growth forests with dense understories of ferns and salal.
- Oregon Beach Bill: Make The Entire Coastline Of Oregon Accessible to The Public For Recreational Use
Keep one's eyes peeled for wildlife - marine, terrestrial, and avian. With marine life look for gray whales, humpback whales, sea lions, and seals. In the sky look for bald eagles and plenty of sea birds. On land see (but keep distance from) black bears, and perhaps even vast herds of elk.
Before hiking the route, one should check to see the current conditions of the trail. Updated information can be found on the State Parks Oregon website. There may be parts of the trail closed to safety issues, detours, etc, that one should know in advance.
Accommodation And Camping Along the Route
While one may want to get a hotel, beach house, or Airbnb in places, many of the nights spent hiking the trail is likely to be camping. There are hiker campsites at nearly every state park along the coast, the tent sites are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and have water, restrooms, and showers. Find a Park is a guide to campsite locations and costs (although there may also be private campgrounds to be found along the route).
- Campsites: Located In Nearly Every State Park
Beach camping is also permitted in some areas (but always be careful to camp well above the high tide or one may have a nasty surprise in the night).
- Beach Fires: Not Allowed Near Driftwood Piles or Vegetation
Hiking along the coast of Oregon means one will have the best of the tranquility of nature while not being too far from civilization. All along the route, one can cozy lodging options, coffee houses, restaurants, and even craft breweries.
One needn't hike the whole trail in one go, one can divide it up into segments and do it piecemeal over a much longer period of time.