Walking a path that makes you wonder if your heart is beating faster due to the rigor of the climb or the feral beauty of the surroundings is a rare pleasure. Visitors who are looking for a unique outing, which combines the health benefits of walking with the invigorating effects of being in nature, have abundant choices near Coos Bay, OR. Trailheads scattered along the shoulders of Cape Arago Highway, on the way to Sunset State Park and its neighboring beaches, provide exactly this type of exhilarating experience.
Put on a good pair of walking shoes and be willing to traverse around mud-drenched entrances that lead into forested footpaths the cliffs and coves of the Pacific. Growing incessantly, ferns and foliage create a veil of green on the base of massive trees that have weathered centuries of winter storms. It offers a gentle solitude which is only interrupted by an occasional chipmunk dashing or the hush of breeze through the treetops or the distant crash of breaking waves. Watch from a lonely lookout onto the shore below as ocean crests and jettisons over crusty rocks, indiscriminately spraying resident seagulls and sea lions alike.
Take an extended walk from the nearby trails into the Shore Acres State Park, where its pristine and manicured gardens of flowers and hedges contrast against the wild terrain right outside its gates. Pass through the garden gates and take the short walk down to a sheltered beach where the sand is grainy thick with large pebbles. The thicker texture feels great on your toes and keeps the wind from sandblasting your eyes while you take in the view.
The trails along this stretch of Cape Arago Highway are day use only and allow visitors from 7 am to 7 pm. Look for information boards that give details on trail lengths and difficulty. It’s always a good idea to bring along a hiking buddy and always be prepared for erratic Oregon weather with layered clothes and water.