Monday, December 31, 2012

Oregon Coast Day Trip

ecola state park
Indian Beach, Ecola State Park, Oregon

My absolute favorite place on Earth is the Oregon Coast.  Growing up, my grandparents had a small vacation home in the town of Tolovana, near Cannon Beach.  We would sometimes go there on weekends and over school vacations.  I grew to love the long sandy beaches, enormous rock monoliths, and the small beach towns.  Every moment from the wet drive through the coastal range, to the cool breeze on a beach walk, to the small town bakery where I get my maple bar, takes me back to my childhood and a smile remains on my face.

It's no surprise that when I was visiting Oregon on my winter break, I asked my parents if they'd accompany me to a day at the coast.  Whether you are a Portland Oregonian looking for a spontaneous day trip or a first time Oregon visitor, this is a great way to spend a day in Oregon.

Day Trip Itinerary 

Camp 18
Sculpture outside Camp 18
We stopped at my favorite (and well known) restaurant, Camp 18, for a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, fried razor clams, and biscuits.  If you haven't been here before, you should.  It is a large log cabin style building on Sunset Highway in Elsie, Oregon that boasts hearty meals and decor fit for a lumberjack.  The restaurant is a beautiful example of rustic log cabin architecture and has a true logger/hunter motif.
We always try to get a table in the back left corner of the main room to view the many bird feeders and stream below.  The meal portion size is enormous so it might be wise to split a meal...or come with a big appetite.  Before you leave, take a stroll around the grounds and admire the river, wood carvings, and logging museum memorabilia.

Indian Beach, Tillamook Lighthouse, and a HIKE!
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse
Since high tide prevented us from walking on the beach, we decided to head to Ecola State Park for a little hike.  To get there, take 101 west and take the City Center/Ecola State Park exit.  The park has a $5 day use fee to enter.  Park in the Indian Beach parking lot.  This is a great spot for photos of the rock monoliths and crashing waves.

We took the Clatsop Loop Trail which goes from the Indian Beach parking lot to the "Hiker's Camp".  Round trip the trail is 2.5 miles and is moderate to easy terrain.  Highlights of this hike include traveling through a coastal forest which is home to some of the largest Sitka spruce trees in the region.  My favorite part of the hike is the ocean side portion of the loop which takes you along Tillamook head and provides stunning views of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and Pacific Ocean.

After the hike, we rested at Indian Beach parking lot where there are picnic tables overlooking the beach.  We enjoyed our packed lunch before driving back into the town of Cannon Beach.

Maple Bar
Maple Bar at Cannon Beach Bakery
One Last Treat
A trip to Cannon Beach would not be complete without a visit to the Cannon Beach Bakery where I always get a Maple Bar*.

*To my East Coast friends- a maple bar is a donut type treat, but instead of a ring, it is shaped as a 6 inch bar and covered in maple frosting.  Mmmmm!

On the Road again
We left Cannon around 2 pm, making sure to get one last look at Haystack Rock before heading back home to Portland.

Recommendations for a winter day at the Oregon Coast:
- Bring Rain gear:  Weather is different than the valley.  You never know what it's going to be like, but it frequently is going to be windy or wet in the winter months.
- Walk:  This might be a long stroll on the beach or a hike in Ecola Park, but in order to appreciate the Oregon Coast, you need to take it slow and get into nature.
- Start traditions:  My family's traditions of stopping at Camp 18 and getting a maple bar in Cannon Beach allow me to reminisce and remember the good ol' days while continuing to have memorable experiences with those I love.  Create your own.
-Enjoy:  If you are expecting a San Diego style beach with sunbathing and calm seas, think again.  Enjoy the Oregon Coast in winter for what it is... as well as what it isn't.  This is a rugged stretch of nature that pummeled by strong waves and wet winds. Enjoy the solitude you can experience and the kiss of cold salt wind on your cheek.

I can't wait to return.

Grey Skies and Grey water of the Pacific Ocean
Grey Skies and grey water of the Pacific Ocean