Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Hiking

Stagecoach Trailhead, Siltcoos Beach: Easy, interesting trails
Siltcoos Lake Trail: Monster cedar snags and valley floor marshes
Carter and Taylor Dunes Trails: Old spruces and rhododendrons, lots of wildlife
Oregon Dunes Overlook: Surprise! Good views of the dunes.
Tahkenitch Creek Trail: Quiet and you might actually spot some tracks
Tahkenitch Dunes Area: Longish - forest to beach
Umpqua and Eel Dunes Trails: Best dunes trails but slow going from all that sand
Bluebill Trail: Western hemlock and huckleberries, plus extensive boardwalk

Siltcoos Campgrounds and Beach
Access: Trailhead for several trails is one mile west of U.S. Highway 101 on Siltcoos Beach Road.
From Florence: 7 miles south.
From Reedsport: 13.5 miles north.

Setting and Attractions: The Stagecoach Trailhead commemorates the 19th Century Beach Stagecoach Route between Coos Bay and Florence. Three short and relatively easy hiking trails are accessible from the Stagecoach Trailhead, which has parking for several vehicles. Coastal forest, a saltwater estuary and a freshwater lagoon make this area outstanding for wildlife viewing. The area north of the Siltcoos River is open to off-road vehicles, and you may hear noise from the ORVs as you hike.

Waxmyrtle Trail: Trail is 1.5 miles long.
The trail leads across a bridge and then turns south, bordering the picturesque Siltcoos River Estuary and ending at the beach. Outstanding views of the lower estuary and ocean highlight this trail. Posted signs caution that portions of the estuary are protected snowy plover nesting areas. Please respect the birds' habitat. This is a great trail for beachcombers to reach the beach.

Chief Tsiltcoos Trail: Trail is 1.25 miles long.
The trail is located across the road from Stagecoach Trailhead. This may be hiked as a loop or as a destination trail to Driftwood II Campground, a popular off-road vehicle campground. The trail winds up and down through a coastal evergreen forest of huckleberry and rhododendron. The trail encircles a second, short loop around the hillside's peak.

Lagoon Trail: Trail is 1 mile long.
It is located 0.25 miles east of Stagecoach Trailhead or hikers can access it from the Lagoon Campground. The trail meanders across wooden boardwalks and paths alongside the Siltcoos River Lagoon for close-up viewing of plants and wildlife including beavers, nutrias, ducks, herons, and bitterns. It was once known as "The River of No Return" nature trail because it follows an old arm of the Siltcoos River that was cut off when the Siltcoos Beach Road was built.

Siltcoos Lake Trail
Access: Located on the east side of U.S. Highway 101, opposite Siltcoos Beach Access Road.
From Florence: 7 miles south.
From Reedsport: 13.5 miles north.
Trail length: 2.25 miles to the lake.

Setting and Attractions: From the trailhead parking area, Siltcoos Lake Trail gradually climbs and descends through a 50- to 60-year-old forest of Sitka spruce, Douglas-fir, western red cedar and western hemlock, ending on the west shore of the lake.

Siltcoos Lake Trail: Trees dating back to the 1930's provide a dense canopy overhead, and hikers can explore the monster cedar snags and stumps and valley floor marshes. You can still see on some stumps evidence of the 1930s' logging practice of cutting springboard notches to hold planks for tree fallers.

Halfway to the lake, the trail divides to form a loop and leads to two campsite areas equipped with primitive toilets, tables and campfire rings. Both campsites are accessible by boat or allow you to put-in a raft if you hiked in with one. The south loop leads to one lakeside campsite and the north loop leads to a group of five lakeside campsites.

The lake offers year-round fishing although bank fishing is sparse. Stocked with rainbow trout, the lake also is home to yellow perch, bullhead catfish, crappie, Largemouth bass and bluegill.

Carter and Taylor Dunes Trails
Access: Located on the west side of U.S. Highway 101. The trailhead is located just off Highway 101 at the Carter Lake Campground turnoff.
From Florence: 7.5 miles south.
From Reedsport: 12.5 miles north.

Setting and Attractions: Nearby Carter Lake provides fishing for campers, boaters and hikers. During the winter off-season, the campground is closed. Hikers may still use either trail by parking in the trailhead lot off the highway near the gate. You can hike either trail separately or make a loop by hiking both trails. This area is closed to off-road vehicles. There are also some tall dunes in the area that will entice children of all ages.

Taylor Dunes: Trail is 0.5 mile to viewing deck with great vistas of sand dunes, marsh-like deflation plains and the ocean. The hike meanders through some of the oldest conifer forests on the Oregon Dunes. Limby old spruces and twisted rhododendron make a lovely hiking environment. The rhododendrons bloom with subtle color in April and May. This trail is constructed barrier-free for physically challenged hikers.

You can continue on where the trail spills out on the sand for an 0.8-mile walk to the beach. Follow the blue-striped posts.

Caner Dunes: Trail is 1.5 miles to the beach. At the interface of sand and trees, hikers may return to the campground or choose to follow the blue-striped trail posts that mark the way over the sand, pass through the deflation plain and end at the beach. From winter through early summer, water and wildlife abound in the deflation plain.

Note: The beach is currently open to off-road vehicle use from September 16 to March 14. It is closed from March 15 to September 15. The Oregon Dunes NRA is recommending to the State of Oregon that the beach remain closed year-round.

Oregon Dunes Overlook
Access: Located on west side of U.S. Highway 101. The trailhead is located at the overlook viewing area and is accessed at the upper viewing deck or north of the covered viewing structure. Facilities at the overlook area include flush toilets, water, picnic table and viewing platform. Picnic tables and restrooms are wheelchair accessible.
From Florence: 10 miles south.
From Reedsport: 10.5 miles north.

Setting and Attractions: Nature enthusiasts and photographers appreciate the contrasts of the coastal evergreen forest, open dunes, wetlands, and ocean beach areas accessible from these trails. Note that the beach is open to vehicle use from September 16 to March 14, although it may be permanently closed in the future.

Overlook Beach Trail: Trail is 1 mile to the beach. This relatively short and easy trail can be seen almost entirely from the upper viewing deck. After crossing a quarter mile of wind-polished sand, hikers travel through shrubs in the deflation plain wetland before crossing the foredune to the beach.

Tahkenitch Creek Loop: Trail is 2.5 miles long. The Loop trail begins at the junction with the Overlook Beach Trail near the west end of the open sand, between the Overlook facility and the deflation plain. If you choose to hike this loop from the beach, travel south from the Overlook Trail beach marker for one mile until you locate a trail marker on the foredune, to return via the Tahkenitch Loop. Combined length of both trails is 3.5 miles.

Note: This trail will provide high-elevation vistas along the creek and more rugged hiking than the easier Overlook Beach Trail.

Hiking Tip: During the summer, the wind on the beach blows from the north. The wind comes from a southerly direction in the winter.

Tahkenitch Creek Trail
Access: Located on the west side of U.S. Highway 101.
From Florence: 11 miles south.
From Reedsport: 9 miles north.

Setting and Attractions: The trail is really three separate loops measuring 1.5, 2.5 and 4 miles. Once you cross the bridge over the tranquil Tahkenitch Creek, signs at the trail junctions help you determine your location.

The trail system crosses through dunes, several types of coastal forests, marshes, deflation plains and meadows. As you hike, watch for glimpses of the winding Tahkenitch Creek. In the distance, parabola dunes sharply contrast with the dark green of the surrounding forests.

The sand near the creek is a perfect place to look for wildlife evidence. Tracks of alligator lizard, bear, raccoon, otter, mink and shorebirds are discernible in the sand.

This is a popular trail system because of its remoteness, scenery and wildlife. The area is also closed to off-road vehicles.

Western Snowy Plover: This plover is a small (6-7 inch) sand-colored bird that is listed as a threatened species. The birds nest in bowl-like depressions in dry sand along the beach and mouth of Tahkenitch Creek. Nesting season is between March 15 and September 15. The birds abandon nests when disturbed by humans, vehicles or dogs. Please watch for signs bordering their nesting habitat and keep your dogs on leashes.

Tahkenitch Dunes Area
Access: Begin at the trailhead parking area in the Tahkenitch Campground on the west side of U.S. Highway 101.
From Florence: 12.5 miles south.
From Reedsport: 8 miles north.

Setting and Attractions: Tahkenitch Dunes and Threemile Lake trails begin as one trail then separate about 0.25 mile from the trailhead. Each can be hiked separately or the two trails can be combined into an extended single loop trail (6.5 miles long).

This is a popular trail system because of its remoteness, scenery and wildlife. The area is closed to off-road vehicles.

Tahkenitch Dunes Trail:
Trail is 2 miles long one-way, ending at the beach. Once the trail divides from the trailhead, this portion heads out through a mile of conifer forest, opening onto the dunes with a distant view of Tahkenitch Creek. The trail follows route markers across open dunes, ending on the shore of Tahkenitch Creek near where the stream enters the ocean. Look for signs showing where snowy plover habitat areas are located. Please respect the birds' privacy when nesting from March 15 through September 15.

Threemile Lake Trail:
Trail is 3 miles long to the lake. This trail begins in conifer forest and provides vistas of fresh water lakes and wet areas within the forest. It meanders through a spruce forest, ending at serene Threemile Lake.

To hike the trails as a loop, follow route markers toward the beach and hike along the ocean or just east of the deflation plain for about 1.5 miles to another marker that directs the return route. The dune at the north end of the lake offers a primitive campsite with a great view. The lake is home to yellow perch and cutthroat as well as playful river otters.

Umpqua and Eel Dunes Trails
Access: Both trails are accessed from Eel Creek Campground near Lakeside, on the west side of U.S. Highway 101.
From Reedsport: 10.5 miles south.
From North Bend: 12 miles north.

Setting and Attractions: The two trails begin in forested campground settings and join, leading you through open and semi-open dune areas, the deflation plain and ending at the beach. Both are located in a section of the Umpqua Scenic Dunes that is closed to off-road vehicles.

Umpqua Dunes Trail: Trail is 2.5 miles long round-trip but may feel longer because of all the hiking in loose sand. After a 0.25-mile hike through coastal shrubbery, the trail breaks through to open sand and offers a spectacular dune landscape—a sea of sand unmarked by vehicles that is nearly two miles wide and four miles long with tall dunes. The open sand is unmarked because of constantly changing conditions and hikers are advised to climb the tallest dune to get their bearings. Head toward the north end of the timbered tree island to the west, and route markers will be visible beyond that point.

Eel Dunes Trail: Trail is 0.75 mile long. This trail begins next to Campsite 50 in Eel Creek Campground. The trail hooks up with the Umpqua Dunes Trail. Look down as you hike for glimpses of lichens, flowers and low-growing coastal plants.

Bluebill Trail
Access: Located about 2.5 miles west of U.S. Highway 101 on Horsfall Dune and Beach Road north of the McCullough Bridge.
From Reedsport: 21 miles south.
From North Bend: 4 miles north.

Bluebill Trail: You begin on a 1-mile loop 1/3 mile from the parking lot. The eastern portion of the trail winds through western hemlock trees and evergreen huckleberries to an extensive boardwalk at the far end of 40-acre Bluebill Lake, a dry lake bed that becomes marshy during wet periods. The western part of the trail divides, giving you a choice of following the edge of the "lake" for a look at marsh plants and animal tracks, or following a parallel trail through open shore pine forest. Either route is good birding.

Note: This portion of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is surrounded by approximately 6,650 acres of private property and not all areas are clearly marked. If you plan on hiking cross-country, please consult maps located at the campground and at the trailhead before leaving the trail.

More Hiking Trails

Bluebill (loon)
Round Trip: 1-1/4 miles
Location: From Horsfall Dune & Beach Access
Features: Lake, wetland, wildlife

Carter Dunes
Round Trip: 3 miles
Location: From Carter Lake Campground
Features: Dunes, beach

Chief Tsiltcoos
Round Trip: 1-1/4 miles
Location: Off Siltcoos Beach Access Road
Features: High point vistas, forest

Lagoon (loop)
Round Trip: 1/2 mile
Location: Off Siltcoos Beach Access Road
Features: Wetland, wildlife, viewing platforms

Overlook Beach Trail
Round Trip: 2 miles
Location: From Oregon Dunes Overlook
Features: Dunes, vegetation, succession, beach

Siltcoos Lake (loop)
Round Trip: 4 miles
Location: Opposite Siltcoos Beach Access
Features: Forest, lake, camping

Tahkenitch Creek
Round Trip: 4-1/2 miles
Location: South of Oregon Dunes Overlook
Features: Dunes, forest, creek, beach

Tahkenitch Creek Loop
Round Trip: 3-1/2 miles
Location: From Oregon Dunes Overlook
Features: Dunes, wetlands, beach

Tahkenitch Dunes
Round Trip: 3-1/2 miles
Location: From Tahkenitch Campground
Features: Forest, dunes, beach

Taylor Dunes
Round Trip: 1 mile
Location: Near entrance to Carter Lake CG
Features: Fully accessible, forest, dunes view

Threemile Lake
Round Trip: 6 miles
Location: From Tahkenitch Campground
Features: Old forest, lake, dunes, beach

Umpqua Dunes (loop)
Round Trip: 1 mile
Location: From Umpqua Dunes Trailhead
Features: Scenic high dunes, forest

Umpqua Dunes to Beach
Round Trip: 4 miles
Location: From Umpqua Dunes Trailhead
Features: Challenging dune hike to beach

Waxmyrtle
Round Trip: 2-1/2 miles
Location: Off Siltcoos Beach Access Road
Features: River, wildlife, wetlands, beach


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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