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Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 3: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Driving down Highway 101 from Newport to Yachats
After spending a sunny Sunday morning in Newport Oregon, we were over the bridge and leaving the fishing town of Newport behind.  We decided to stop in Yachats (adorable town, pronounced Yah-Hots) for lunch at Luna's Sea Fish House.  There was plenty of outdoor seating, a live band setting up, and best of all, the outdoor area was dog friendly.  We peered at the seafood filled and interesting menu, with specialities like the "Slumgullion", a big bowl of clam chowder jazzed up with white cheeses and bay shrimp,  baked with garlic bread.

Lunch in Yachats at Luna Sea Fish House
We decided to try the grilled wild king salmon sandwich, and the fish tacos.  I was on the hunt for all things seafood and after a mediocre fish and chips and mediocre oysters, I was starting to understand that the Oregon Coast was not known for its food.  The food here was okay, but again, nothing that blew my socks off for being on the Pacific Coast.  My stomach longs for fresh New England seafood. 

After leaving Luna's, we continued to our southern most point of our coast road trip before cutting across East, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The Oregon Dunes are so unlike the rest of the Oregon Coast.  Instead of ragged rock and angry waves, you have 500-foot-high sand drifts.  It is like you left the Pacific Northwest Coast and entered the Sahara. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the largest expanse of coastal dunes in North America at 47 miles long by 2.5 miles wide.  This area was also the inspiration for Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic, Dune. A popular site in this massive area is to follow the three-mile (one way) John Dellenback Trail to the Umpqua Dunes, the park’s biggest. Source

Oregon Dunes Map
We were short on time, and didn't want to head too far south before we had to back track a little ways north to hit 126 to start heading East to Eugene and Bend.  Instead of heading to the central or southern end of the dunes, we decided to see the northern section of the dunes in the Taylor Dunes area just south of Dunes City by the Carter Lake Campground. 

Oregon Dunes - Taylor Dunes Trailhead
The Taylor Dunes Trailhead is located directly of Highway 101 (Pacific Coast Scenic Byway) on the west side.  There is a sign (see above) approximately 7.5 south of Florence, Oregon. This National Recreational Area is part of the Siuslaw National Forest area and there is a 5$ fee area per car.  If you have a National Parks Pass, this works here. 

Trail Map Source
There is a bathroom at the trailhead, and about 10 parking spaces.  Dogs are allowed on the trail on leash, but they are not allowed on the beach due to the piping plover nesting sites.  But I have to admit we never made it all the way to the beach.  The hike follows a 2.7 miles loop from lake to dunes, marsh to beach and back.  

Bench overlooking the dunes on the trail
Following the trail through the dunes
The beginning was beautiful, following a boardwalk around a lake, through a wooded area, and then opening up to the dunes.  But once we were in the open exposed dune area, it was all exposed to the sun with no shade, and brutal sun exposure.  Thankfully the sand wasn't too hot yet, but use your hand to check the temperature of the sand if you are bringing your dog. 

Blooming flowers along the dunes
I should have done more research on this trail because after leaving the beautiful (but hot) exposed dune area we were back in the wooded marshy section between the dunes and the beach. - emphasis on marsh.  The trail soon became flooded, with swarms of mosquitos attacking us.  With wet sneakers, itchy mosquito bikes, and frustrated spirits, we turned around as the trail was only getting wetter and the bugs getting worse.  While we never made it to the beach and the trail was sort of a dud, we did get to trek through the sand dunes of the Oregon Coast. 

Follows the footprints along the trail through the dunes
On the trail in the dunes, with the beach and water in the background past the marsh
After our hot swampy sandy dog was finished with the trail, we decided to follow the road over to Carter Lake to clean her off and let her cool off in the lake. The lake was right after a beautiful well maintained camp ground, where a few men were dozing in the shade next to their RV. 
Carter Lake
Carter Lake
Pro:  No one around, and pretty much have the trail and the lake to yourself.  The trailhead is located directly off Highway 101 and has a pit toilet.  The dunes are beautiful and the yellow flowers along the way are gorgeous. You can also stop at the lake where you can fish or relax by the water.  There is a campground if you want to spend the night (with flushing restrooms and water).  It is nice that dogs are allowed on the trail. 

Cons:  The marsh area made the trails unpassable and the bugs in there were ferocious.  The exposed dune area was pretty hot and I am assuming quite miserable mid summer.  Dogs are not allowed on the beach.  It is a fee area so make sure you have a National Park Pass or pay the fee.  While the dunes were beautiful, I would skip this trail and try the John Dellenback Trail. 

We bid farewell to the Oregon Coast, and put some miles between us and the Pacific Ocean, headed East to the town of Eugene Oregon, home of Ninkasi Brewery. 

Previous posts:
Day 3:  Newport Oregon
Day 2:  Three Capes Scenic Drive
Day 2:  Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock
Day 2:  Ecola State Park
Day 1:  Astoria, Oregon 
Day 1:  Vista House at Crown Point
Day 1:  Columbia River Highway Waterfalls
Day 1:  Columbia River

1 comment :

  1. Very interesting! I would definitely check this out. - Alicia @


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