Pedal, Paddle, Hike, Drive: 5 Top Coast Trails
There’s good news for Live Culture Coast travelers passionate about wild places and classic Oregon coast scenes—you know, the arch rocks and sea stacks, gold-sand beaches, rivers, and forests. Over the past few years, Southern Oregon Coast communities have been hard at work creating the kind of world-class trails that give hikers, bikers, and paddlers up-close-and-personal access to the best of Southern Oregon Coast’s wild places.
There’s more good news: Make the trip to southern coast for Live Culture Coast this fall (October 18-27, 2019) and you just might have a few trails and beaches all to yourself. Why is that? The Southern Oregon Coast is a bit farther afield; as such it receives fewer visitors compared to Oregon’s central and north coasts. (In spite of the fact the coast’s so-called “banana belt” is warmer and sunnier than coastal points north.)
The five trails below, both new and known, get you out and exploring what is fast-becoming one of the greatest outdoor recreation destinations on the whole West Coast.
TRAIL #1 Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway
What—Oregon had the first Scenic Bikeway program in the country—and one of the best routes begins in the fishing town of Port Orford. The Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway threads 61 miles of bikeable routes, including a 17-mile stretch along the Wild and Scenic Elk River.
Good for—Bikers of every ability. Choose your own itinerary by keeping it local and close to town, spinning a few east miles to Paradise Point State Recreation Area, or trying for all 61 miles in a single day.
Where—There are numerous access points, but Port Orford is the bikeway’s official hub. You can access detailed info on the whole bikeway (or send the route to your mobile device) by heading to the Oregon Scenic Bikeways page of RidewithGPS.
Bike Service—For bike rentals, maps, insider intel and more, get yourself to Pineapple Express Adventure Rides in Port Orford. You can also get repairs and info from South Coast Bicycles in nearby Bandon.
TRAIL #2 Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
What—The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor runs along Hwy 101 for 12 jaw-dropping miles. It’s a must for travelers to the area. Sea stacks galore, secluded beaches, forests that meet the sea—and trails both easy and challenging. Numerous viewpoints also make Oregon’s wild coast accessible to those with limited mobility.
Good for—Everyone! Car travelers have plenty of viewpoints for gazing and there are trails for hikers of every ability.
Where—The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor Runs lies between the towns of Gold Beach and Brookings. Multiple viewpoints on Hwy 101 are well-signed—and often are the locations of trailheads that lead to the Oregon Coast Trail. OregonHikers.org has detailed hike guide for an 8-mile route from North Island to Arch Rock.
TRAIL #3 Oregon Coast Trail
What—This long-distance super trail runs for 425 along the Pacific Ocean, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border—but don’t let the length deter you. Much of the trail is the beach itself, and the Southern Oregon Coast boasts some of the most scenic sections (think haystack rocks dramatic bays and forests that reach the ocean edge). Access points are numerous and within easy reach.
Good for—Hikers of all levels. The hardest part is simply picking which section to experience.
Where—To find an access point that works for your trip, a great place to start are the easy-to-use maps from the Oregon Coast Trail Foundation which lay out the trail section by section. Each map has critical wayfinding information about tides, stream crossings and other hiker notes.
Get Maps/ Intel—The Crissey Field Welcome Center near the California border is one-stop-shopping for travel advice and tourism resources, including trail recommendations.
TRAIL #4 Whiskey Run Mountain Bike Trails
What—A mountain biking must. Eighteen miles (and counting) of professionally built trails that undulate through a section of Coos County Forest that once was actively logged. Cross-county terrain ranges from beginner to expert, from rollers to easy climbs to bracing downhill. The trails are well-marked by level and length, making Whiskey Run among the most user-friendly mountain bike trail systems in the state. Here you’ll find classic Oregon landscapes—towering trees filter light to a salal- and fern-covered forest floor laced with streams and freshets.
Good For—Families and riders of all levels. Thanks to pro trail-makers Ptarmagin Ptrails and IMBA, all routes are well-marked and easy to follow. Signage, benches, parking areas, and land use provided by Coos County Forestry
Where—Coos County Forest, between Coos Bay and Bandon. Map your way to the Whiskey Run Bike Trail parking here.
Rent a Bike/ Bike Service— Do check out the Whiskey Run Trail system online before you head out. For rentals, maps, guided rides, insider intel and more, get yourself to Pineapple Express Adventure Rides in Port Orford. (The shop also offers private mountain biking lessons.) You can also get repairs, spares, tune-ups, and info from South Coast Bicycles in nearby Bandon and Moe's Bike Shop in North Bend.
TRAIL #5 Coquille River Water Trail
What—Some day, the Coquille River Water Trail may stretch for 41 miles along the Coquille River from Myrtle Point to Bandon. Today, kayakers can paddle some of the best spots, such as the Bandon Marsh U.S. National Wildlife Refuge. During fall and spring, tens of thousands of shorebirds stop at the refuge to feed in eel-grass beds and shores tidal salt marsh—it’s a literal wildlife riot.
Good for—Paddlers of all levels.
Book a Trip/Get a Guide—A Coquille River Water Trail Guide is in the works, but South Coast Tours in Gold Beach is both a wealth of paddling information and runs regular paddle excursions to the lower reaches of the Coquille. And Coos Boat Tours gives a 2 hour Coquille River round trip tour from Bandon to Bear Creek