EXPLORING OREGON – A Beach and a Hike in Tillamook County

Surrounded by the coastal rainforest and situated right on Netarts Bay is the small community of Netarts, in Tillamook County. We arrived in Netarts in the middle of the night, and settled in at our charming Airbnb, the Edgewater Cottage. I couldn’t wait for morning to explore this region of the Oregon coast.

Netarts Bay stretches seven miles along the northern coast and, like most coastal towns in Oregon, offers breathtaking views, crabbing, clamming, hiking, boating, and hunting for treasure along the beach. While the entire country suffered from the most extreme heat in history, we were lucky to enjoy temperatures in the 50s and 60s every day at the coast in late July and early August.

The view directly in front of our cottage was breathtaking.

Rising early every morning to explore the beauty of the Oregon coast was a perfect way to beat the crowds. We often had the beach and hiking trails to ourselves, allowing us to take it all in without distractions. On our first morning in Netarts, we explored the bay just steps away from our cottage. Descending steep stairs, we were greeted by a mystical and gauzy beach at low tide. To my surprise, we were not the only early risers. There were numerous couples and families exploring sealife and enjoying the ethereal landscape.

On this first morning, on this beautiful beach, I felt completely at peace in my surroundings. This was the beginning of a love of the Pacific Coast, and I knew that two weeks was not sufficient time to enjoy the natural wonders of this region. It was time to explore one of over 2,900 hiking and biking trails in Oregon.

CAPE LOOKOUT, CAPE TRAIL

Cape Lookout is a 4.7 mile in and out trail with an elevation of close to 800 ft. The trailhead offers plenty of parking, although we had our pick of the entire lot at 6:30 a.m. when we arrived for our hike. There are restrooms conveniently located at the parking lot.

Cape Lookout is a moderate hike that takes a little over two hours to complete. The trail is muddy at certain spots, with moderate inclines. You are hiking along a cliff hundreds of feet above the sea. About a 1/2 mile into the hike, the trail reveals a stunning view of the ocean. We were above the clouds.

This first viewpoint is near the site where a B-17 bomber crashed in 1943. A plaque set in a boulder, in memory of those who lost their lives, is visible right along the trail.

The entire trail surrounds you with lush forest as you navigate through tangled tree roots, rocks, and muddy terrain. Halfway through the hike, the trail is not well maintained and you need to tread carefully through large boulders until you reach several narrow boardwalk paths leading to a cabled off viewpoint with a bench to sit and take in the expansive views of the ocean.

This beautiful trail is also known as a great spot for whale watching during the whale migration to Alaska from March to June.

We finished our hike completely alone, and as we were coming to the end of the trail, a few visitors were beginning their hike. Cape Lookout is a popular trail that does get crowded in late morning and afternoon hours. I suggest starting early for a serene hiking experience that delivers spectacular views.

Old Ingraham Highway

The more we get outdoors, the more we disconnect from our everyday life.  Not the great everyday life that includes our friends and family (although I guess that depends on your family), but the stuff that everyday living is made of.  We rush through our days, wishing for the weekend, then wishing for the next weekend, then the summer, and forward to the next holiday or vacation.  We do this over and over, and before you know it, years pass. . .many years pass.  You begin to think about your life and suddenly those things you covet, that house, that car, those sexy must-have pair of high-heeled pumps, becomes a shallow reminder of a life missing something that isn’t measured in material possessions.

And here we are, it’s the weekend, and time to disconnect once more to experience life in its simplest form.   We set off to hike one of the many trails in Everglades National Park, Old Ingraham Highway.  Prepared with our hydration packs, sunblock, and insect repellent, we are well equipped to manage our weekend hike.

Ingraham Highway was completed in the early 1900’s and was named after James E. Ingraham, president of the Model Land Company and vice president of the Florida East Coast Railway.  He worked together with Henry Flagler in the development of South Florida.  Ingraham Highway ran the distance from Homestead to Flamingo.  Flamingo, once thought to become a booming town with the prospect of Henry Flagler’s plans for the East Coast Railway to Key West, is today no more than a ghost town.

Map of Ingraham Hwy, Homestead, FL

The abandoned highway in the middle of the Everglades now offers an interesting biking and hiking trail.  The views are typical South Florida. With sawgrass, cypress trees, and hardwood hammocks in the distance, this serene environment is home to alligators, wading birds, snakes, turtles, amphibians and more.  We heard the deep growling sound of several alligators, but none joined us on our walk.  If you have a fear of bugs, the flying kind or any other, you will need to keep an eye out and walk briskly.  We found many of these toxic insects on our hike— the lubber grasshopper.

IMG_8980 Since we started late in the day, we hiked no more than four miles of this trail.  It was a perfect warm, breezy, and sunny day.  Thoughts tend to wander in the serenity of our surroundings.  Thoughts of friends, children, grandchildren, what I’m making for dinner, my dad, my husband, where we’ve been, and what the future holds.  I can’t help but smile and feel completely at peace, and looking forward to our next hiking adventure.

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Every Day Counts

Finding the motivation to get out there and walk is not always easy.  Factor in a busy workday and 86 degree temperature with high humidity, and the motivation is close to non-existent.  However, there are so many ways to keep the momentum going if you really try.  Weekday hikes may be as simple as getting up early to get your walk in before the day begins, walking around a park during lunch, or committing to a walk in the evening in your neighborhood.  No matter how you do it, do it.  You are preparing for the more exciting hike planned for the weekend ahead.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt:

Planning for our weekend hikes is made easy with a few great apps we love.

AllTrails offers downloadable maps of hiking and biking trails at the tip of your finger.  You can save your favorites for easy access, record your hike, and share your photos and trails with friends or followers.

MapMyHike goes a little further.  It not only tracks your hike/bike route, it also let’s you set exercise and nutrition goals, track the lifespan of your gear, purchase your favorite gear brands and items, and join challenges with friends or groups.

You won’t fall off the map with these apps!

Buen camino. . .Buen Camino Logo