If You’re Looking for a Cozy, Friendly Community, With Mammoth Trees, Walking Trails and Whale Sitings, You Won’t Want to Miss Yachats — Gem of Oregon’s Central Coast
Yachats (pronounced Yah-hots) is a Chinook name that means dark water.
Nestled at the foot of spruce-sheathed mountains overlooking the wide mouth of a bay where the Yachats River meets the Pacific, it was the site of a thriving village.
Today, squealing toddlers play in soft purling waves while parents throw Frisbees to happy dogs on a vast expanse of hard-packed sand.
I couldn’t resist wading in the clear water and watching the kaleidoscopic bubble lines kiss the sand as white puffs of clouds overhead morphed into streamers across a brilliant blue dome.
My deck at the Ocean Cove Inn overlooked the ever changing panorama of the river meeting the ocean and cloud play above.
It is only a few steps to the Drift Inn where I enjoyed a fresh garden salad with ginger vinaigrette, along with a seafood lasagna—a flavorful combination of fishes and crab.
A soulful guitarist serenaded the somewhat raucous crowd. Yachats’ year-round population of 700 is a mixed bag of locals with big beards who reminded me of forest gnomes, and world travelers who add delicately prepared dishes, art galleries, and fancy ideas to the brew.
In the outdoor pavilion at Luna, also just steps away from my digs, I polished off two fish tacos made from another fishy blend capped with guacamole. Outstanding! Fresh produce at the nearby market, shops sharing the work of local artisans, and the Visitors Center with maps of local trails were all in walking distance from my homey room.
Yachats has the best of what the coast has to offer wrapped up in a cozy, friendly package. A local told me \’The worst part is that it is three hours from Portland\’ making it difficult to get needed supplies; \’the best part is that it is three hours from Portland\’ making it just far enough away that weekenders go to closer seaside towns.
In the cool of the evening I ventured onto the Ocean View Drive Trail that hugs the coast. You can take it north through Yachats to Smelt Sands State Park where a ramp descends to a 7-mile stretch of beach.
The beach walk garnered seal and whale sightings. The whales were quite active diving for food in the channel just outside the black lava fingers jutting out into the deep. Relentless waves pound the rocks then turn into foamy white pools before retreating to the depths. A friendly group of locals invited me join them at them at their warming fire while I watched the orange sun sink into the dark water.
There are numerous trails fanning out from the village of Yachats, but I wanted to explore Cape Perpetua a few miles south. The view from the top of Perpetua is touted as the most far-reaching on the entire 396 miles of Oregon Coast. A massive rock lookout station with expansive views was built during the depression and can be reached on an easy loop trail from the upper parking lot of Cape Perpetua preserve.
The Giant Spruce Tree walk out of the Visitors Center is a mama bear run not to be missed. It hugs the side of a ravine overlooking a cheery creek that keeps you company for one mile to the granddaddy of the forest. Huckleberry, alder, salal, and a myriad of ferns and glossy-leaved vines line the path in Mother Nature’s arboretum.
Shafts of early morning light streamed through the towering old growth spruce shading the cool glens. I reached the massive tree, pressed palms to his moss-covered trunk, and felt his warm energy.
The proud old boy stretching to the heavens has stood here since before Christopher Columbus landed on our shores. His majesty towered over the moss-draped spruce forest when Captain Cook arrived in 1778. Cook named the cape after Saint Perpetua to celebrate the saint’s birthday. He had tried to land farther north but rough water thwarted him so he named that harbor Cape Foul Weather.
The mighty tree enjoyed the conservation efforts of the conscientious objectors to the Vietnam War who came to Oregon and began the movement to save our forests. Much of forests along the Oregon coast that extends for 396 miles are preserved and open to the public largely due to their early efforts.
The Perpetua Visitor Center is well worth a visit. Helpful docents share secrets of the forest and the sea. There are exhibits and a series of films that go back to the ’60s. Captain Cook’s trail takes you down to tide pools where you can watch massive waves crash against jagged rocks creating a blow hole that sends water shooting skyward.
Yachats has the best of what the coast has to offer wrapped up in a cozy, friendly package. A local told me “The worst part is that it is three hours from Portland” making it difficult to get needed supplies; “The best part is that it is three hours from Portland” making it just far enough away that weekenders go to closer seaside towns.
A shop owner told me that the man who owned the gas station had died a couple a months ago, so folks had to go to Walport, the next town up the coast, to fill up.
I got the feeling it didn’t matter too much because you can walk to just about anywhere you want to go in the gem of the Central Coast.
Linda Ballou says her mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as she can, before they are no more. “Travel tales relating my experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines. I had a great deal of fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people I have met in “naturally high places” for my newest book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. For a complete bio as well as published on-line clips with photos go to my website www.LindaBallouAuthor.com. Your reward, aside from learning about me and my work, will be to discover the secret to youth! Follow my blog to keep up with my latest adventures.
IF YOU GO:http://www.yachats.org/ Yachats Visitors Center 1-800-929-0477 http://www.oceancoveinn.com/ Ocean Cove Inn 1-541-547-3900