You do not know adventure if you have not visited the 400-mile Oregon Coast Trail, which runs through sea cliffs, beautiful sandy beaches, and forested headlands. The trail cuts across Oregon between its border with California and Washington.
We highly recommend the Oregon Coast Trail for hiking beginners because it is not a hardship trail. You will have access to several amenities, such as hotels, showers, and Wi-Fi. It is a luxurious trail that will make you feel like you are moving from one inn to another, resting for the night and repeating the next day.
Despite all the luxury, The Oregon Coast Trail still has some remote sections where you can enjoy nature’s beauty and serenity while having an adventure. Expect to come across swelling rivers, creeks, and vast volumes of sand which change with the seasons.
Such uncertainties create a unique experience for each expedition. For adventure’s sake, try hitching a boat ride from the anglers and crabbers on the bays. While on the beaches, ensure you get a view of the marine mammals, elk, and tide pools.
While planning to thru-hike the Oregon Coast Trail, here are some guidelines to help you have a seamless trip.
Requirements for Thru-hiking the Oregon Coast Trail
Compared to the three crown trail family (The Continental divide trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Appalachian Trail), the Oregon Coast Trail is child play. It will take you an average of 30 days to thru-hike the entire trail, so the preparation process is also less rigorous.
However, adequate preparation is still necessary to ensure you are safe and comfortable on the trail. Here is what you need to do ahead of the Oregon Coast Trail Thru-hiking expedition.
While the trail might look harmless, you want to avoid going there with an unfit body because you will have it rough. Remember you will still need to cover a considerable distance before retiring to the comfortable hotels for the night’s rest.
You can start by walking and jogging for short distances and keep increasing until your body develops the stamina needed for long walks. You risk developing muscle pulls if you go out there hiking with an unfit body. The excruciating pain will make you end your journey.
You need to be certified by the doctor as fit for the long treks. The trail might be shorter, but if your body has a cropping issue, it might threaten your health. Depending on the season, the terrain can be unforgiving, and you need to be in the best health condition to manage and have fun on the thru-hiking adventure.
Get the necessary permits.
Hikers only need a permit on the Oregon Coast trail if they intend to drive to the US Forest Service trailheads or Oregon State Park, then you will need to get a parking permit. You are expected to make the reservation before arrival.
First Aid Kit
Accidents happen even in the most secure places; hence you should never go hiking without a first aid kit. (Get the best one here). Ensure you have all the necessities in the kit, including
- Pain relievers
- Safety pins
- Disposable gloves
- Wet wipes
- Digital thermometer
- Bug spray
You might not need all these, but someone else around you might get into an accident, and you get to help them out.
Appropriate clothes and shoes
We can never over-emphasize the importance of getting the right clothes and shoes for hiking. The wrong attire can be a nightmare since it puts you at risk of your skin chaffing, which will cause you massive discomfort.
Your hiking attire can make or break your spirit of adventure. Choose wisely by getting the best quality (Check here).
Have Enough Cash
The Oregon Coast trail is short and moderate hiking, but you may need more money than the longer trails. The course offers lots of luxuries you cannot resist and need relatively more cash to enjoy.
Some of the expenditures that you can plan for include:
- Hotel accommodation at every stop
- Fresh food from the local restaurants
- Coffee and drinks
- Buying souvenirs
You will also need some financial discipline on this trail, especially if you are on a budget. Resist the temptation to book a hotel room when you have planned to camp or even buy food while you have packed stock.
While hiking on the Oregon Coast Trail, you need a comfortable backpack because the trail is full of adventure that you do not want to miss out on because of heavy luggage. You do not need to pack everything you will need for the journey because the refill stations are reliable.
Map and Compass
The Oregon Coast Trail can be unpredictable, but having a map will give you a general sense of direction. Besides purchasing these tools, you must know how to use them correctly. Otherwise, you might walk in circles for the rest of the day.
While GPS technology is efficient but it cannot replace a physical map and compass. GPS devices rely on the network, which can fail, and are also powered by batteries that can get depleted. Make sure you have a physical map and compass every time you go on a hike.
Sunglasses and sunscreen
The sun can be extra scorching on The Oregon Coast Trail; hence you need to protect your skin. Get the best quality sunscreen with a high sun protection factor and glasses to protect your eyes. You may also have a hat on for extra coverage.
Sunscreen is more effective when reapplied since it loses the protection factor after some time.
Lighters will only be applicable if you are camping on the trail. If you plan to spend the nights in hotels, you may not use them. However, we recommend you have one in your backpack just in case you will need to put it on fire at any point.
You should also note that campfires are prohibited in some areas prone to forest fires. Get this information from the respective parks’ management to avoid getting in trouble. The fines can be hefty.
Food, snacks, and water
Finally, remember to pack up sufficient food, snacks, and water. You need a lot of energy to navigate the trail; hence you should pack more carbs and proteins. You might not need to pack so much food since there are several eateries along the way. And, You should have enough water for the trail since you might have a long way before getting a place to refill.
The Sections of the Oregon Coast Trail
The Oregon Coast Trail is divided into ten sections that you can plan to visit individually if you are not up to the thru-hiking task. Each section is filled with adventure, and we advise that you take your time and enjoy the thrills before moving to the next place.
These sections are as follows:
Section 1: Fort Stevens State Park to Oswald West State Park
The first section starts in Fort Stevens State Park at the Columbia River and terminates at the Arch Cape. Expect a view of an ancient shipwreck and a lighthouse at Tillamook Rock while traversing the sandy beaches. For this section, you need proper timing since you can only pass during low tide.
Here, you will find the most luxurious accommodation camps at the hiker camp and viewpoint. There is also sufficient space for pitching tents with picnic tables and a vault toilet on site.
Stay away from the trail if you notice the tide rising, as there could be the risk of sneaker waves and rip currents.
Section 2: Oswald West State Park to Tillamook River Bridge
The second section is a 40-mile stretch which may look tough at the beginning on the dirt trail but, later on, opens up to the beach trail. It starts from Arch Cape and ascends about 1000 feet from the Pacific. A descent follows this to the sea level and yet another ascent of 1600 feet to the Neahkahnie Mountain. The rest of the trail is descending.
In this section, you can use the ferry or trek along the highway around Nehalem Bay. Public transport is sufficiently available in this section.
Section 3: Tillamook River Bridge to Bob Straub State Park
In this section, you will experience the magnificent three capes; Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. The trail runs along the coastline, starting from Tillamook Bay to the Pacific City.
As you enjoy the beautiful views and breeze, you will also come across several species of gulls and large brown pelicans. Some sections get covered entirely by the high tide; hence, you need proper timing to avoid inconveniences and delays.
Section 4: Pacific City to Otter Rock
This section is the longest among the ten, stretching to about 43 miles and traversing the roughest parts of the coastline. Half of the trail is along Highway 101, while a small section lies on the sandy beach. Despite the hardship, you will enjoy beautiful scenes.
The highlight of this part of the Oregon Coast Trail is the fishing rock, the ideal location for spotting the Gray and Humpback whales, especially between December and January when they migrate towards the South for Calving.
Section 5: Otter Rock to Heceta Head
The fifth section of the Oregon Coast Trail runs through immaculate sandy beaches and meets up with the gigantic basalt pillar protruding into the sky. The trail then traverses more capes covered by dense forests. Hike to the top of the Cape and enjoy the view of the extensive pacific.
You will also find well-maintained state-operated camping sites where you can rest for the day or make a stopover for a day or two.
Section 6: Heceta Head to North Bend
The highlights of this section of the Oregon Coast Trail are the Umpqua River Lighthouse and the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Make sure you check them out.
You will also encounter the massive Oregon Dunes, the most massive dunes in North America, where you can enjoy motorsports, among other non-motorized recreation activities.
There is a tunnel section of highway 101 that you must go through, but it has been marked as unsafe, so we recommend you hitch a bus ride to get to the other end of the tunnel.
Section 7: North Bend to Bandon
Section seven of the Oregon Coast Trail runs from North Bend to Bandon. Expect to enjoy the relaxed side trek, which passes through three gorgeous state parks, hiking trails, coastal views, and isolated beach caves.
You will encounter a remote trail between Cape Arago and Bandon, where you will come across exciting rock formations and an isolated but scenic beach. Before returning to the course, proceed to the dead end of the Cape Arago highway and enjoy the best scenery on the Oregon Coast Trail.
Section 8: Bandon to Humbug Mountain State Park
Brace for long walks along the beach on this section which can be grueling but with magnificent views of wildlife and coastal towns.
As you traverse this section, take a few minutes to check out the Bandon Marsh National Refuge, where you will come across different species of migrating birds.
Follow the riverside trail, which will lead you to a unique coastal town where you can grab a cup of coffee and enjoy viewing the handcrafted statues on the streets.
Camping is restricted in most parts of this section apart from the region between Bandon South Jetty Park and Floras Lake. The camping area is small and lacks basic amenities, but you can get fresh water from a nearby river.
Section 9: Humbug Mountain State Park to Pistol River
You are now approaching the end of the Oregon Coast Trail. This section runs along highway 101, making it a dangerous but easier trek compared to the trails along the beach. You will still have fantastic views of the coastline.
Trekking down this path will allow you to visit the prehistoric gardens with replicas of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.
Towards the end of the section, you will find Pistol River Beach and Myers Creek Beach.
Section 10: Pistol River to California
The last section of the Oregon Coast Trail begins from the Pistol River Beach and goes all the way to the California and Oregon border. The trail on this section is partly forested, with yet another significant section running along Highway 101.
The paths leading to the beach on this trail are too rugged; hence you should expect minimal access if any.
There is no official end for the Oregon Coastal Trail, but if you use your map well, you will know when you hit the Oregon – California border.
As an experienced hiker, I find the Oregon Coast Trail quite interesting because it is divided distinctively. The sections make it easy for you to plan your hiking, regardless of whether you are thru-hiking. You can tackle section by section until you complete the whole trail in the long run.
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