The coast you remember
Boardwalks over streams and swampy areas give views into wetlands without you having to put on your waders. The trail extends from the Agate Beach Wayside parking lot through an underpass beneath Highway 101, bears right at the stairs and meanders along Big Creek, crossing this picturesque stream with several bridges and suspended boardwalks under enormous spruce trees and through salmonberry and huckleberry bushes and alder forest.
Interpretive signs are set up along this easy, level and gravel portion of the path. The trail at this point is interrupted at the intersection of Harney Street and Big Creek Road, so bear right and go into Big Creek Park, where a porta-potty offers a mid-hike break. From there the trail climbs along a gravel track through deep forest, passes city water tanks at the crest of a hill, then drops through shady alders to Jeffries Creek, resplendent with skunk cabbage this time of year.
The trail then climbs steeply to the parking lot of Northeast Fogarty Street, where the hikers either meet their second vehicle or retrace their steps for the full four miles.
The forested portion of this trail, minus the stretch over city streets to the bay, can just as easily be hiked from the south as the north. The south end provides several marked parking stalls at Northeast Fogarty Street just north of the intersection at Northeast 12th Street across from Sam Case Elementary School.
The trail then extends along another 1.5 miles along city streets to the south to connect to Yaquina Bay.
What to look for in July: Bright red and pink huckleberries on head-high bushes are a tart, refreshing snack along the trail. Yellow salmonberries, which look like big raspberries, may also be in season depending on location. Skunk cabbage fills the hollows along the waterways with both their broad, emerald-colored leaves and an odor which reminds the hiker how these plants, a favorite food of black bears, got their name. Look for deer and songbirds.
On the right day, the sheltered meadows along the south end of the trail are warm and closer to the shoreline, sea breezes cool the air significantly so it would be a good idea to pack a windbreaker, especially if you extend your hike along the Agate Beach seashore on the north end.
Nuts and Bolts:
Four miles round trip, seven miles with full circuit to Yaquina Bay.
Difficulty: Moderate, gravel trail, some steep inclines, 200 feet elevation gain
Parking and restrooms at trailheads, restrooms at north trailhead, porta-potty along trail
What to bring: Snack, walking stick, First aid kit
For tens of thousands of seabirds nesting in the cliffs — plus a gut-wrenching drama of life and death fit for a nature program narrated by David Attenborough — look no further than Yaquina Head. This basalt headland and offshore rocks are home to at least 65,000 common murres, Brandt's and pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, western gulls and glaucous-winged gulls. In a symphony of cries, spray and clattering wings, seabirds battle to raise their chicks and keep them safe from the clutches of hungry bald eagles and peregrine falcons. This is a pure unfolding of nature’s drama, visceral and gripping at the ocean’s door.
The interpretive center at Yaquina Head is also a favorite stopping point for birders scanning for the falcons, barn swallows and violet-green swallows nesting in the cliff ledges above the center. Watch right from the parking lot. Chances are there will be an interpreter around who can tell you more.
Look for birds along the edges of Yaquina Bay, including the jetty rocks at Southwest Jetty Way. The Mike Miller State Park Educational Trails in South Beach lead though wetlands that offer good bird viewing. The mile-long Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail, located off of Marine Science Drive, offers priming sightings of wetland birds along the mile-long walk which can also be combined with a visit to Hatfield Marine Science Center.
The birds which call the coast home could fill a guidebook. Some notable ones you’ll see in just about any estuary are the great blue heron on the hunt, spindly egrets and common loons. Perched like slick, dark sentries on pilings, jetty rocks and shoreline trees are Brandt’s cormorants — brazen fisher-birds with an oily appearance and a startling throat of bright blue.
Bald eagles nest in snags along the shore and ospreys can be seen hovering in a shimmer of wings, ready to dive on fish in the surf.
See a dark bird with an outsized orange beak and startling pumpkin-colored eyes hopping around the rocks and tidepools? It’s probably the famed black oystercatcher, rare but year-round and a sight to behold. A brown denizen with white wing patches and red feet is probably a pigeon guillemot.
You may see the scurried takeoff of a tufted puffin or a serene line of brown pelicans cruising just above the sea surface.
You will see western gulls everywhere; the mature ones sporting pure white with sharp lines of black — the juveniles looking a little uncomfortable in rumpled, mottled suits of gray and brown. No trip to the ocean would be complete without the familiar voices of these highly successful residents.
These birds are a small sample of what is in store. You could spend a lifetime birdwatching on the Oregon coast. Come get started while the weather is nice!
The Best Western Plus Agate Beach Inn in Newport, Oregon recently completed a $7 million renovation updating not only the décor of the hotel but the entire guest experience. The hotel has added new amenities including a complimentary daily wine social featuring award-winning Oregon wines, and a doggy welcome kit for guests checking into one of their pet-friendly rooms.
There are 148 guest rooms in a wide range of accommodations, including oceanfront rooms with a lighthouse view and hillside rooms, all of which were remodeled with new furnishings and brand new mattresses.
The hotel's on-site restaurant was also fully renovated. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also offering in-room dining, the Sea Glass Bistro & Lounge features coastal cuisine and a variety of cocktails, wine and beer all with an ocean view. The ocean views are even better from the wind-blocked outdoor dining area.
The Best Western Plus Agate Beach Inn has direct access to one of Oregon's most coveted beaches. It is the ideal location for romantic getaways, business travel, and family adventures alike. Nearby are top attractions like the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Historic Nye Beach and the Historic Bayfront.
Just in time for the summer season, the property now boasts outdoor fire pits, yard games, s'mores packages, and a large telescope to spot gray whales or to take in close up views of Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
While Newport experiences moderate temperatures year-round, the summer often sees plenty of sunshine and days in the 70s or sometimes 80s. The Agate Beach Inn is one of the only airconditioned oceanfront hotels in Newport, providing guests with enhanced comfort during their stay.
And on rainy winter days, guests will stay warm and dry as they go from their room to the lobby or restaurant through the hotels' all interior corridors.
The Agate Beach Inn also boasts one of the largest indoor pools on the Oregon Coast which also received updates during the renovation.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Seapunk: Powered by Imagination, will open Saturday, May 25. The exhibit is modeled after a subgenre of science fiction, art, technology and fashion inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery: Steampunk.
Seapunk: Powered by Imagination shows a whole new perspective on tropical marine life, using a fantastical hands-on and interactive extravaganza of the senses. Guests will experience an underwater fantasy that follows the travails of “Phineas K. Brinker” - a retro-futuristic and intrepid inventor who strands in a submarine at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. In order to survive underwater, Brinker rebuilds the crippled submarine into a modern marvel of engineering by constructing imaginative variations on contraptions one may be familiar with today.
Turn a crank to illuminate the cragged teeth of a mechanical angler fish and flip lenses of giant metal goggles to magnify vibrant, schooling fish within. The Helmetoid, an oversized fanciful version of an undersea helmet, inspires awe at first glance; And upon closer inspection, the elaborate apparatus affords views of brain coral teeming with clownfish.
Meet the oversized, sprawling octopus “Butler,”—a companion designed by Brinker to keep him company in the ocean depths. Climb through a seahorse gallery, discover lionfish within an undersea glider and peer through a “Helmet Memorial” to spot the elusive moray eel. The story of Brinker’s fateful stranding and consequent determination to survive comes to life as guests pass through the galleries and fully immerse in his undersea world.
By pushing buttons, spinning wheels and pushing levers, visitors of all ages activate the bubbles, sparks, light, and sounds of each aquatic exhibit. Seapunk: Powered by Imagination transforms the spectacle of the typical aquarium gallery by merging Steampunk technology with marine exploration.
The Seapunk: Powered by Imagination grand opening will feature a magician, the live steampunk band, “Cascadian Airship,” face painting and regular scheduled animal feedings and presentations on Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26.
The band, Cascadian Airship, who describe their sound as gypsypunkjazzrockfolksurf, have played venues, events and festivals all over the state since 2014, including last month's Astoria Crab , Seafood and Wine Festival.
The Aquarium will be open every day this summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit aquarium.org or call 541-867-FISH for more information or to purchase advance tickets.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium creates unique and engaging experiences that connect you to the Oregon Coast and inspire ocean conservation. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR.www.aquarium.org, 541-867-3474. Follow us on Facebook.com/OregonCoastAquarium for the latest updates.
In centuries past, three-masted schooners made their way about the bay heavy with lumber. Today, the bright surface is dotted with fleece white as a new generation of sailors take to water for pure joy rather than industry.
So come try it out! There will never be a better time for the wind to carry you. And on Saturday, June 22, the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club makes it easy with their annual Summer Sailstice Sailebration. The club allows even the worst landlubber a free chance to experience an hour of sailing aboard a member’s boat, from noon to 5 p.m., with the last trip departing at 4 p.m. Trips depend on weather and available space. Children over five are welcome with a well-fitted life vest and a guardian
Sign-ups begin at 11 am at the clubhouse located at 750 SW Bay Blvd.
Stick around until 5 p.m., when a party kicks off at the clubhouse featuring the blues of the Lloyd Jones Quartet. A barbeque dinner, beer and wine will be on offer, along with a silent auction; music starts at 6 p.m. All profits will go to support Youth Sailing programs at the club, though unfortunately the party is adults only due to OLCC regulations.
More info at yaquinabayyachtclub.org/summer-sailstice.html
It’s prime sailing season at the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club. Sign up for the Wednesday Racing Series and come down for the fun. Wednesday Night Racing kicked off in May and runs through October 9. The YBYC website has loads of details, including schedules and registration. Here are the basics.
Anyone interested is welcome to join. Sailors must submit a race entry and waiver form. Even people interested just in crewing will have a shot at the water, as the race chairperson will work to put you in touch with boats seeking crew members. Skippers should be members of US Sailing. Non club members new to racing at YBYC may race on two Wednesdays before they must pay entry fees.
If you are trailering your boat, the Port of Newport has you covered. A wide and easily accessible paved boat is at your service in South Beach. The South Beach Marina features a courtesy dock and staging area with daily trailer parking available.
Every month has its catch — fresh and snappy Dungeness crab, hard-hitting ling-cod which make the best fish tacos you’re likely to eat and halibut pulled fresh from the water to add savor to any chowder.
But July we reserve for one revered species — the Chinook salmon. These large, dark-speckled “kings” can weigh 12-25 pounds and are making their way along the coastline and into the imagination of many a sea-going fisher. Worthy of the finest daydream, the king holds court both in myth and on the table, where it is healthy, delicious and loaded with nutritious Omega-3 fatty acids.
You’ll see iced Chinook coming across the docks on the Bayfront and South Beach, both from sport fishermen and commercial trollers. Visit the docks and look for the signs for salmon sold fresh off the boat. Commercial boats generally are allowed to sell only whole fish and special licensing and facilities are required to pack and sell smaller portions. For those, visit any of the fish markets in Newport. Most will have fresh product on offer.
The Bayfront is also home to a number of charter fishing outfits which can set you up with a complete trip and even throw in some trapping of Dungeness crab to boot so you can pull your own bounty from the ocean. Newport Tradewinds, Captain’s Reel Deep Sea Fishing, Newport Marina Store & Charter and Yaquina Bay Charters are local favorites.
The season is a long one, extending from mid-March through October, but summer is a peak time to fish and the weather is nice.
The healthy wild-caught pink flesh of the Chinook salmon can be slow-cooked with Swiss chard and turnips for a smooth texture. It can be basted with butter and brown sugar, grilled slowly on the barbeque, roasted with potatoes, herbs and cream and cut in chunks to add big flavor to seafood soups, chowders and stews. Or slow roast it with fennel, citrus and chiles. Recipes abound for preparation of this Northwest legend.
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