It’s summer in Tucson and 100+ degrees. Time for us to take off on our quest for cooler weather, coastal views, eating seafood and hiking. This year’s adventure finds us north along the Oregon Coast, Washington Coast, then inland to the Cascades and ending up in Utah. Our first stop is near the town of Brookings, Oregon. Can’t get much further south in Oregon than Brookings.
Our trip west took us through Las Vegas, Reno, Northern California and out to the coast. This time, we decided to leave late in the afternoon and overnight at Picacho Peak, halfway to Phoenix. We were then able to get an earlier start on our drive to Las Vegas, plus beat the Phoenix morning rush hour. They have a RV park on the Air Force Base, most importantly, they have a “plug” so we can run our ACs when it is 117 degrees! The drive up to Reno, “the ET Highway”, was cooler than expected. We overnight in a small park on the Nevada/California border where it cools off at night. Then out to the coast through some wonderful lodgepole pine forests in Lassen National Forest with some great views of Mt Shasta as well.
We stayed at Harris Beach State Park just north of Brookings, OR. Very nice park. We had a view of the ocean from our spot and walked out to watch the sunset each night. We walked a few short trails down to the beach and up to some bluffs. One of the best parts for us was the temperatures with lows in the upper 50s and highs in the upper 60s. It was mainly sunny the days we were there with morning ocean coastal fog.
Redwoods National Park is really a partnership with the National Park Service and California State Parks. Some of the biggest redwoods are in a California state park right on the Oregon border. Jedediah Smith State Park has some wonderful trails. We had hiked here some back in 2020 but there were some trails closed for maintenance then we wanted to try. Mill Creek Trail starts off from deep in the forest off the Howland Hill road and traces back to the Smith River. Along the way it goes through the Grove of Titans and Stout Grove. There is even a neat temporary seasonal bridge across the river. We started early to beat the crowds and were the only car at the trailhead. When we got back 4 hours later, it was packed and overcrowded. The trees are simply amazing and we walk in awe of their size, age and beauty. It was a fairly level hike, and the sights were breathtaking.
Just north of Brookings is the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, an 18 mile corridor along the coast with lots of turn-offs, hiking trails, beach access and just wonderful scenery. It basically runs from Harris Beach up to Gold Beach. Since all the viewpoints are on the west side (southbound) we drove north to Gold Beach and then back. Cape Sabastian was super windy, as in hard to open the car door windy, so we had a picnic in the jeep overlooking the coast and ocean. Meyers Beach is said to be one of the most photographed in the country. It was very pretty but we think most every beach is beautiful in its own way. There were huge patches of wild sweet peas in bloom all along the beach. Arch Rock and Natural Bridges are two of the more famous and popular stops. We decided to take a short hike down to Secret Beach. Through forest and coastal shrubs, past some small cascades and a waterfall and down a steep trail to the beach. Not so secret, as there were quite a few people down there. Whaleshead Rock is a big sea stack that looks like the head of a whale breeching. I must admit, it took us a while to see the resemblance, but eventually did. House Rock viewpoint seemed to be missing House Rock. We could not see what it was supposed to be anyway.
Alfred Loeb State Park is Oregon’s claim to Redwoods. There is a small stand in the park, just southeast of Brookings. We did a short, day hike there along the Chetco River out to a 1-mile loop through a grove of redwoods. These were smaller and younger than the ones we saw in Jedediah Smith State Park but still a pleasant walk through the forest. There was also a very nice quiet picnic area for us to have our lunch and enjoy the river.
Brookings has a small city park called Chetco Point. We took a walk out to the point one morning. Very short walk, but great scenery. We could see an entire fleet of fishing boats out catching the fresh fish we ate all week.
Don’t let all this scenic touring fool you, we also made sure to get a good helping of seafood. We had some wonderful Dungeness crab tacos, fresh grilled rockfish, crab chowder, and fresh Lingcod fish and chips. One of the restaurants we ate at, Catalyst, had the same name as their fishing boat that we saw docked in the marina behind the building. Fresh fish for sure each day.
What a wonderful stop for our first week on the coast. The weather was perfect; cool, light breeze, and not many clouds. We hiked and saw some wonderful coastline and we had our share of fresh seafood. Plus Harris Beach State Park campground was a great place to stay. Looking forward to our next adventure just up the coast at Winchester Bay.