Central Oregon Coast Hiking
The historic 804 trail runs just outside your room at the Overleaf Lodge. Before Highway 101 was built traffic used County Road 804 to get from Alsea Bay to Yachats. Travelers crossed the Bay on ferry. At low tide they drove six miles on the sandy beach from Waldport to the basalt bench where Yachats begins. There, they drove the 804 south to the Yachats River where the 804 curled inland and up the rich farm valley. Those who wanted to continue further south could ford the river or use canoes or other water craft.
In the 1930's, Hwy. 101 was built and the 804 became a foot path. It continued in uninterrupted use until the 1970's when a long legal battle to have the trail vacated began. In the mid-1980's the high court ruled that the trail must be continued and 804 Trail North became part of the Oregon State Parks Department.
A similar prolonged legal battle over the south end of the trail began in the 1990's and was finally settled through mediation with the bordering home owners. Now that section extends from Smelt Sands south to the Yachats River.
It is now possible to walk from your room at the Overleaf Lodge all the way to town following nearly the same path the Indians and early pioneers did. The more ambitious may then go to the highway, cross the bridge, turn right on Ocean Road to walk a paved and gravelled path for a mile following the ocean.
If you follow the trail a half mile north from the Overleaf Lodge it will take you past giant boulders that defy the ocean, waves that crash into sandy coves, and fissures that spray foam high in the air, and eventually drop you down on a six-mile-long sandy beach.
Brochures are available at the front desk that tell about the history of the 804 trail and about the flora and fauna of the coastal forest and tidal zone.
Just three miles south of Yachats, Cape Perpetua is the tallest point on the Oregon Coast. A trail leads to a viewpoint and stone shelter at the very top of the cape and provides a 180-degree view of unsurpassed beauty.
At the Visitor's center, you will enjoy exhibits, movies and whale watching from their fine observation area. The Center is open daily from Memorial Day until October and weekends during the winter. Ten wonderful hiking trails reach out from the Center - some going to the ocean and others inland through the forest. Visit the website regarding the Siuslaw National Forest for maps and descriptions of each of the trails. Don't miss walking the trails to tidepools, spouting horns, Cook's Chasm, Devil's Churn, the Giant Spruce Tree, or the viewpoint at the top of the cape.
Gwynn Creek Trail is a spectacular trail through old-growth Sitka spruce forest and along the very scenic Gwynn Creek. This 5.8-mile trail starts at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center and loops back to it. If you don't want to hike the full loop, start at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center and hike south along the Oregon Coast Trail until you find the Gwynn Creek Trail sign. Head east along Gwynn Creek as far as you desire.
A section of the Oregon Coast Trail goes right by the Heceta Head Lighthouse. For the shortest route to Heceta Head Lighthouse start at Devils Elbow State Park (15 miles south of Yachats) and head up the picturesque trail 0.5-mile past the Queen-Anne-style lightkeeper's house. The views are spectacular from the Heceta Head Lighthouse and provide a good place to scope out birds on the rocks nearby. The trail continues uphill behind Heceta Head Lighthouse and continues over the headland and down the other side. Several spots allow for spectacular views north along the coastline. The trail forks after 1.8 miles. At the fork take a left and follow the Hobbit Trail 0.4 miles to a secluded beach. If you want to continue on you can follow the beach to Washburne State Park, which is another 1.2 miles north and then loop back 1.7 miles along the Valley Trail to a turnoff located on Highway 101. The start of the Valley Trail is located on the east side of the highway in Washburne State Park. Once you reach the turnoff on Highway 101 walk 100 feet north and cross the highway to find yourself back at the Hobbit Trail post. If you complete this loop back to Devils Elbow State Park you will have walked 6.9 miles. Alternatively you can park at the turnoff mentioned above and save yourself a park fee at the Devils Elbow picnic area and take the trail south from there.