Giant Spruce Trail, Cape Perpetua

We have a lot of big trees on the Oregon Coast. We also have a number of very old trees, like the 400-year-old Sitka Spruce in Regatta Park. When we got a nice (meaning rain-free) day in June, we headed to Cape Perpetua to seek out one of the oldest, tallest, and most portly trees in the State. While the Giant Spruce at Cape Perpetua is not the best-in-class in any of the three categories, it places in the top five in each. It is an impressive specimen.

On the way to the Giant Spruce, this not-so-small tree had fallen and was sliced to allow passage.

This is a classic easy-hiker hike. There is a well-maintained trail, elevation change is minimal, and it is short, about one mile/30 minutes each direction.

This weekday in June the trail was lightly attended, but then early June is hardly high-season for tourists. The walk is through a lush and healthy forest and would be cool on even a warm day, not that we get so many of those on the coast. The informative visitors’ center and handy restrooms offer a good start and end to the hike and just up the road you’ll find the city of Yachats with many options for meals or refreshments. We especially like Green Salmon Coffee.

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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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