Smelt Sands, Yachats, Oregon

The ocean is an ever-changing phenomenon. We love to see it daily, to see the changes in color, wave action, and tidal surge. Such is one of the delights of living on the Oregon coast. Winter storms are dramatic and often accompanied by 45 mph winds driving the rain. Not ideal for beach walks but magnificent to watch.

Magnificent spouting horn at Smelt Sands. People have been washed off the rocks!

When we are blessed with unseasonably nice weather, as we were in early December 2017, we like to take advantage of it. In a month that is usually fraught with wind, rain, and sometimes dangerous storms, we had an unprecedented seven-day streak of sunny skies. We seized on a stunning weekday and headed to Yachats, about an hour-and-a-quarter south of Lincoln City.

Prior to relocation, in our almost 30 years of visiting the Oregon Coast for long weekends, we seldom ventured south of Newport. This December day, once we were over the Yaquina Bridge, we were in new-to-us territory.

Table with a view.

Yachats is a cute little town with a great coffee shop (See Cape Perpetua posted recently), the Green Salmon. Once fortified, we made our way to Smelt Sands. This is not a hike so much as a paved walkway along a very scenic stretch made more so when tides are high and the spouting horns (of which Oregon has many) threaten to drench walkers. It wasn’t dangerous the day we went, but people have been swept off the rocks and out to sea, never to be seen again.

Such a clear day and beautiful water!

The walk was super easy — too easy to call exercise — but the ocean performed magnificently and the skies were stunningly clear. A pod of orcas was spotted nearby shortly before we arrived. All-in-all, a worthy day trip near home and reason enough to skip the gym on a sunny day.


My favorite hiking companion.

Another spouting horn. Conditions were perfect this day. We were mesmerized.

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Cape Perpetua

Winter on the Oregon Coast is not for wimps. It left us few days good enough for even a meager hike so most of our steps have been on a treadmill at the gym. We’ve perhaps strolled through the extended neighborhood a half-dozen times, did one muddy and snowy hike in the mountains near Durango, CO in February, slogged down to the beach from our house (a mile-or-so each way) two or three times, and took advantage of an extraordinary clear period in December to visit Yachats and walk on the Smelt Sands Trail.

Overcast, but at least it’s not raining at Cape Perpetua.

My Fitbit primarily reflects treadmill trekking, which is accomplished with the accompaniment of media downloaded to my iPad to help pass the 60 minutes. Shetland, Hinterland, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, and Call the Midwife have kept boredom at bay and, in some cases, the next installment of a series was encouragement enough to make me go to the gym.

Luckily the rains are now less frequent and far less intense (45 mph winds make indoors most attractive) so we have had some excursions lately. Overcast skies still prevail, but our mantra is “At least it’s not raining.”

Stunning views from the Visitor Center.

In late April a break in the clouds at Lincoln City led us south to Cape Perpetua, one of the many features on the Oregon Coast named by Captain James Cook. The name was selected because he arrived on St. Perpetua’s Day in 1778. The Visitor Center is impressive with displays of flora and fauna as well as history. It is also well-situated for whale-watching during the twice-a-year migration of the Grey Whales.

There are 26 miles of trails at Cape Perpetua although in this, our introductory visit, we managed only a couple of short loops. Unfortunately, the sun did not follow us from Lincoln City, so we walked under overcast skies. At least it wasn’t raining.

Those are spouting horns just off the trail. Some areas may be hazardous during high seas.

For the easy hiker, there are a nice series of trails along the shore of the Marine Reserve with some stunning natural features known as Thor’s Well, Cook’s Chasm, and Devil’s Churn. (NB: Go at high tide for the most dramatic water action or at low tide to explore tide pools.) Next trip we will time our visit for high tide and also check out the Giant Spruce Trail.

For those interested in a more strenuous walk, there are longer and steeper trails to entice you.

A day trip would not be complete without a stop for coffee. Green Salmon Coffee in Yachats is a quirky — and popular — little place offering drinks laced with CBD oil. That’s cannabis without the kick. The health benefits are supposed to be myriad, but we stuck with their excellent pour-over coffee (so smooth!) and a fine pastry.

Click on any photo below for a better view and caption.

Until the next time!

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