OUR FAVORITE TRAILS TO EXPLORE THIS FALL
A HIKING ITINERARY OF OREGON’S NORTH COAST
Autumn on the Oregon coast ushers in some of the best hiking of the year. The trails are less traveled, the days are cooler, and the magnificently quiet forests seem to offer a special enchantment. Our favorite trails range from easy strolls down the road to invigorating excursions that can fill an entire afternoon. Lovely any time, nothing can quite compare to an early morning walk along one of our nearby trails when the surroundings take on a misty, other-worldly quality.
Walking distance from Headlands:
Pacific City Pathways – This delightful trail is walkable from Headlands. The little bench at the top of Nestucca Ridge, about a mile from our door, is an exceptional place to watch one of our magnificent sunsets over the Pacific. Chief Kiawanda Rock, Cape Kiwanda, and the Great Dune are all on display as the sun sets on a perfect autumn day. If you can’t make the early evening show, grab your coffee from Stimulus in the morning and start the day with a walk through a grove of shore pines, old-growth forest, and coastal huckleberry, with views of Pacific City along the way.
A short drive north of Headlands:
Whalen Island and Beltz Dike Road– Stop by the Adventure Center to borrow a pair of binoculars, then head to Whalen Island for an early morning birding trip. Surrounded on three sides by tidal estuary and on one side by brackish wetlands, this little island is inhabited by numerous shore birds and songbirds. In the fall, as plants drop their leaves, songbirds become easier to see. At low tide you can venture into the estuary and explore the sandy habitat where crab, clams, and shore birds abound. The best place to see shore birds is to the south, along Beltz Dike Road at Sitka Sedge State Natural Area.
South Trail at Cape Lookout – This popular trail system delights explorers year-round, but in the fall the crowds dissipate and the offshore storms add magnificent displays of wave action. A relatively short hike takes autumn adventurers down to the base of Cape Lookout and its miles of secluded sandy beach. Along the way, keep a watchful eye out for the mated pair of bald eagles that live on the southern slope on the cape–they are getting ready for their November nesting season.
A short drive south of Headlands:
Two Rivers Trail – With stands of broad-leafed trees and great picnic areas along the Nestucca River, this trail is an exceptional autumn destination. Located at the Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge just 10 minutes south of the lodge, Two Rivers offers a series of flat, easily traveled trails that wind through dense, mossy-covered forest along the tidal shores of the bay to a lovely overlook at the convergence of the Nestucca and Little Nestucca Rivers. Rare for this area is the abundance of deciduous trees putting on a New England—like display of fall colors. Take along Adventure Provisions from Meridian Restaurant & Bar and find your way to one of the tables along the Nestucca.
A bit further south, but well worth the drive:
Drift Creek Falls – A 45-minute drive from the lodge, Drift Creek Falls is a favorite destination of team members and guests alike. The 3-mile out-and-back trail meanders through the Siuslaw National Forest down to a spectacular 240-foot suspension bridge that soars across the treetops and provides a memorable view of the 75-foot falls below. We especially love exploring this spot in autumn when the rainy season has just begun.