BLOG: Best Hiking Near Coos Bay
Rugged coastline, rolling dunes, and thundering waterfalls amidst old-growth forest can only mean one thing…the Oregon coast. Hiking with these natural wonders as a backdrop can be had less than an hour from Coos Bay.
This area is known more for OHV and ATV riding than hiking, but Coos Bay is an overlooked base-camp for foot-bound exploration. To give you just a sample of the epic hikes to enjoy, we’ve put together the top five hikes near Coos Bay and North Bend.
The Cape Arago Loop
Along the quieter side of spectacular Sunset Bay, the Shore Acres and Cape Arago complex of state parks south of Coos Bay is a Pacific Northwest wonderland. The hike begins at Cape Arago, a headland jutting into the Pacific.
Before you begin this loop hike, if you have time, explore two short treks just off the parking lot. The North and South Cove trails lead to tidepools, beaches and viewpoints where barking sea lions make a regular appearance.
A more substantial hike is Cape Arago Pack Trail, which meanders through coastal canyons for a somewhat challenging 2.3 miles. Creeks, forest and occasional ocean views are here, but you’ll also pass an interesting World War II bunker hidden among the brush on this lesser-hiked trail.
At the trail’s end, you’ll cross over Cape Arago Highway and follow a spur toward the majestic Pacific, and turn left along a trail that follows cliffs above the Pacific. Huge waves batter the shoreline here, the most scenic part of the hike. Then follow the trail past Simpson Reef, crossing over the highway once more before your return to Cape Arago. The entire loop is 4.3 miles and moderately difficult.
Silver and Golden Falls
Two of Oregon’s most stunning waterfalls are tucked into a little-known state park about an hour east of Coos Bay.
Golden Falls thunders 200 feet into a tiny canyon and kicks up so much mist that you’re likely to get a little wet, especially if you want a close-up photo. In contrast, Silver Falls spools off a rounded dome, dropping a total of 130 feet.
It’s an understatement to say these waterfalls are memorable, especially after a heavy winter rain. The full hike — including trails to both waterfalls and the road — totals about 6 miles out and back.
The South Slough
An estuary research center might sound pretty boring for a hike, but those in the know swear by the collection of pathways at South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The trails weave through a variety of landscapes: forest, marsh, mudflats and along creeks. Along the way, you may spot birds, amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles, along with elk. Black bear and bobcat have also been sighted (although rare).
The Oregon Dunes
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area boasts the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America between Coos Bay and Florence.
While famous for ATV riding — and deservedly so — there are great ways to experience the dunes on foot. The best overall hike is probably John Dellenbeck Trail, a route that begins in a coastal forest before crossing the gigantic sweep of the Umpqua Dunes. A trek across the dunes to the ocean beach is 5.4 miles round-trip but challenging because you’re walking in sand. Signposts mark the route, but some navigation is required.
Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on the trails but can sometimes be seen or heard on the beach.
Sunset Bay to Simpson Beach
Crashing waves blast like bold cannon shots against the cliffs on a hike that connects two amazing beaches. As one of the most scenic hikes on the Oregon Coast, it ties together Sunset Bay and Shore Acres parks on a 5-mile roundtrip trek.
The hike begins at the cliff-walled beach of Sunset Bay State Park, and after a quick uphill climb, views of rugged ocean cliffs lay before you for the next 2.5 miles. Keep right at all the major forks and you’ll eventually reach Shore Acres.
Finish up with a short hike down to Simpson Beach, a beautiful counterpart to Sunset Beach and a good place to turn around. But if you want to press on, you can hike all the way to Cape Arago. This hike is moderately difficult.