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  • Writer's pictureTina McLain

OCT: Segment 11 – Cascade Head to Baldy Creek

A north central segment along the Oregon Coast Trail from Neskowin to Taft Waterfront Park.



Segment 11 of the Oregon Coast Trail spans the north central coastal area from Cascade Head to Baldy Creek. It passes through Cascade Head and Lincoln City. This section encompasses Cascade Head Preserve, Lincoln City Beach, D River State Recreation Site, Spanish Head, and Taft Waterfront Park. I did this segment in four parts — one driven section and three section hikes.


The Oregon Coast Trail spans 362 miles (according to Oregon State Parks) or 425 miles (according to the Oregon Coast Trail Foundation) of the Oregon Coast from the Columbia River in the north to the California border in the south. The trail still has "gaps" in trail that are road walking sections along highways and roads until more trail can be made. The Oregon Coast Trail Foundation works to maintain and expand this interconnected trail system. This long distance trail can be done as day hikes, section hikes, or a thru-hike. There are many ways to recreate and experience this trail and the beautiful coastline it entails.



Blue - driven section | Pink - hiked section


Explore by section:


My Section Hiking Approach

The Oregon Coast Trail is technically incomplete and the road walking sections are "gaps" in trail where no trail exists. So, I decided to do the road sections by vehicle instead of walking on the side of Hwy 101 or other roads that I feel unsafe doing. As more trail is established, I plan to come back and do those sections that were previously road sections. I also plan to add on sections such as capes, spits, and peninsulas to hike as much beach as possible on the Oregon Coast. Some sections I'll do as out and back, round trips when I head out alone and other sections I'll go north or south in a point-to-point hiking style. My intention with section hiking is to cover the Oregon Coast regardless of direction. I don't feel a need for my section hiking to be in a certain continuous direction. I will be trying to do as much of it as possible in a southward direction to avoid winds hitting my front, but besides that my goal is to cover all of the Oregon Coast trail, regardless of how I do it or in what direction. Obviously do whatever feels right for you on your own section hike. My reason for being out is to enjoy exploring and work toward finishing this long distance trail in a way that works best for me and my body.

A note on how I classify “segments”


 

Neskowin to Lincoln City



Mode of access: Vehicle

Access: Road

Direction: South

Distance: 10.4 miles

Date Driven: March 21, 2024


I decided to drive Hwy 101 from Neskowin all the way to Lincoln City. It's a really pretty drive. The forest through Cascade Head is incredible.


It has been incredibly confusing and difficult to find information about the condition of the trails through Cascade Head.


On the Forest Service website on the Rainforest Trail #1310 page there is some information of current conditions, but I still find it somewhat confusing. I'm bypassing this section by driving Hwy 101 instead, as an alternate.


I stopped at the entrance for FS 1861 which is closed due to a landslide and risk of future landslides. There were quite a few signs up, and after reading them I'm deciding to bypass this section for now. The signs were rather strongly worded. Such as:


"Danger! No official USFS Trail. Trails are not maintained. User made — not to code. Use at own risk. Unstable cliffs. High hazard slides. Call 911 for emergencies. -Siuslaw NF Cascade Head. Scenic Research Area. Hebo Ranger District."


Under the road closed sign there was whole sign showing the slide risk areas. All of Cascade Head falls under moderate risk, and there are sections that appear to be along the road and potentially the Rainforest Trail that are within high susceptibility.


There were also two signs stating cougars have been spotted on the Rainforest Trail. It said to use caution and stay aware of your surroundings. Here's a post on reddit that shows pictures a hiker took of a cougar on the Rainforest Trail.


Mountain lion (cougar) attacks are rare so I'm not wanting to add to fear mongering. Between the deep landslide risk, unmaintained trails, and limited information I'm choosing not to do this section. I know a trail advocacy group is working on improving the Rainforest Trail, so maybe I'll revisit this section in the future. It feels weird to say I'm choosing not to do a trail when I enjoy challenging and off-trail adventures, but it's better to be safe than sorry. So, I'm sticking to my gut with this one and bypassing.



 

Roads End State Recreation Site to 26th St. (Lincoln City)



Mode of access: Hike

Access: Beach

Direction: South

Distance: 2.11 miles

Date Hiked: May 21, 2024


The OCT technically starts the Lincoln Beach section at Logan Rd., but I decided to start further north so I could hike more of the beach. So I started from Roads End State Recreation Site which is 1 mile up the beach from Logan Rd.



It was a stormy, windy, and very rainy hike. It definitely felt like it fell into the masochistic, type 2 category of hiking. I was hiking into a south wind that was 12+ mph with 19mph gusts (it felt like it was just constant gusts) and a constant stream of rain that was pretty miserable to hike in.


The rain felt like needles going into my face and I had to squint while keeping my head tucked down so I could see where I was going. It was difficult to look straight ahead and keep my eyes open. The rain was falling at an angle due to the wind so it was just hitting my face straight on. The tide was just starting to come in and ranged from 2.6 ft to 3.1 ft. There was a lot of beach space for hiking.



The views I was able to see, besides my feet and the sand, were pretty. There were some nice swells and the bluffs lining the beach were cool. Most of the beach access points were staircases since there were bluffs.


I made it two miles before deciding to get off trail. It had already been a rough day and I was at my limit. I had planned on going all the way to D River State Recreation Area, but ended up bowing out at 26th St.

My mom picked me up and I decided I'd come back on another day to finish it. I was very happy to have a warm drink and meal after hiking in that weather. I think hiking in this weather would have been a bit easier if I was hiking northbound since there was a south wind. So even though I didn't hike all the way to where I initially planned, I made the decision to take care of myself and in hindsight it was the right decision for me.



 

26th St. to D River State Recreation Site (Lincoln City)



Mode of access: Hike

Access: Beach

Direction: South

Distance: 1.40 miles

Points of Interest: D River

Date Hiked: June 10, 2024


It ended up being great weather when I hiked this section. It was sunny out, mid-50's F, with a light north wind. It was a lot more enjoyable to hike this section than it was to hike from Roads end to 26th St. last month.


I got dropped off at the beach access at 26th St. and descended the stairs down to the beach. There were other people all along the beach, but it was pretty easy to keep my distance. I came across a small dead seal washed up on the beach. At first I thought it might be some washed up kelp, but once I got closer I was able to tell it definitely was a seal... it was pretty mangled.


As I continued down the beach I passed by a lot of exposed rocks along the tide line. It looked like there might be some tide pools since there were quite a few people out looking around.



As I neared D River, I decided to walk all the way to where the river met the ocean and see if I wanted to ford the river or cut up to Hwy 101 and take the bridge across. It would have been possible to ford it if I didn't mind getting my feet wet, but I decided to avoid doing that and cut up to the beach access point beside Kylio's, cut through their parking lot to the sidewalk along Hwy 101, then walked across the bridge over D River.


The river was pretty and there was a sign saying it was the "shortest in the world." There's an interesting history around that claim that is disputed. It's not an official designation. On the other side of the bridge I was able to get to the D River State Recreation Site parking lot where my mom was waiting to pick me up.


View to D River from bridge

I'm glad I decided to save this section to do in better weather. I actually got to enjoy hiking it, even though it was a pretty short section.



 

D River to Taft Waterfront Park (Lincoln City)


Beach near Taft Waterfront

Mode of access: Hike (and Vehicle for short unexpected driven section due to conditions on beach)

Access: Beach, Road Walk, Road, Trail

Direction: South

Hiked Distance: 3.35 miles

Driven Distance: 0.36 miles

Total Combined Distance: 3.71 miles

Note: I didn't feel safe passing Spanish Head due to tide and weather conditions, but there is no reference to it being a "tide alert" section. But I feel it is something to be aware of and assess while hiking this section.

Date Hiked/Driven: May 5, 2024


Near D River looking south

My mom was needing to do something in Lincoln City so I decided to do a point-to-point section hike while she did her thing. She dropped me off at D River State Recreation Site parking area. It was pouring down rain and was very windy. I got all my rain gear on and started hiking south down the beach.


There was a "blue tide" washed up on the beach and it really stank. The ocean was definitely more turbulent with larger swells in this section of beach than I experienced further north on the OCT. The beach butted up against shrub covered bluffs and it made it so there weren't many "get of the beach" access points.



I came across other people on the beach on and off. This was definitely a more popular section since it's in Lincoln City. I was listening to music while I hiked and the song Homesick by Noah Kahan and the lyrics "The weather ain't been bad, If you're into masochistic bullshit" played while I was being pelted by heavy rain and intense wind. I was having to keep my chin tucked in to try and protect my face. I burst out laughing cause the lyrics really hit on the head what I was experiencing in that moment.


Blue tide

I hiked all the way down to Spanish Head, but I didn't like how high the water was coming up along with the large driftwood, and cement walls. It looked risky to cross and if a sneaker wave hit I would be a goner in this section. There was one section where there was only 2–3 ft to walk from where the tide was coming up the beach and it came up against a cement wall. I would have had to climb over rock outcroppings and large driftwood to even attempt to get over this section, plus I had no idea what the conditions on the other side of the rock outcropping were. So to be safe I back tracked up the beach to the closest beach access to take a different route around to the other side of Spanish Head.


View of Spanish Head form the north

I road walked up SW Anchor Ct to S 38th St. There was no sidewalk along this section of Hwy 101 so I called my mom and had her pick me up and drive me to the next beach access point which was on SW Beach Ave. (Taft 48 Beach Access). She dropped me off and I continued my hike.


View of Spanish Head from the south

I hiked down the stairs to the beach and was met by a beach covered in large driftwood. Looking back at Spanish Head from the south I was really glad I made the decision to bypass it as it wouldn't have been safe with the way the ocean was today. I hiked down the beach, there was a short 4 ft sand cliff that lined the ocean so the tide wasn't coming over it. The sand was softer and a bit of a slog to hike through.


Driftwood near Taft Waterfront Park

As I came up to the inlet to Siletz River I was able to see harbor seals in the water and some beached on the other side of the inlet on Salishan Beach. I watched them for a few minutes and then finished my hike to Taft Waterfront Park where my mom was waiting to pick me up.


It rained pretty heavy throughout the whole hike. My face was cold and a bit wind burned by the time I finished. High tide was at 9:30am so the tide was going out while I hiked this section ranging from 5.3 ft - 3.7 ft.




 


My Wild Adventure is not responsible for your safety, any possible injury, or anything that happens if you choose to follow anything on this website. Maps are not intended to be used for navigational purposes, but to give an overview of the route taken. By going outdoors you are solely responsible to know your strengths and limitations, be aware of current conditions and proceed with the appropriate caution. My Wild Adventure is not responsible for your choices and the outcome. Reference my disclaimer for more information on being responsible outdoors.

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