We stumbled across this remarkable trail while driving along Highway 101 on the Oregon Coast in Lakeside between Reedsport and North Bay. Part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area that stretches for over 20 miles of spectacular coastline, the trail offers an ideal way to explore the dunes and the diverse coastal ecosystems.
There is a nice 1-mile Interpretive Loop around the Eel Creek Campground which has numbered signs explained on a free brochure which you can pick up. It will take you past a pond and through a variety of plant communities filled with beautiful species such as manzanita and huckleberry shrubs. We saw some interesting birds when we were there in late December, too, such as cute and curious wrentits.
Continue past the loop to the stunning dunes and beach beyond. It's a fairly steep climb up the towering behemoths, but we were rewarded with breathtaking views across the open expanses. The complete hike down to the beach and back to the parking lot is 6 miles, so the Forest Service recommends you allow for at least 4 hours to explore the whole area, but even if you only have 30 minutes for a quick down and back hike to the dunes, it's well worth it.
There is a $5 self-service day-use fee per vehicle. Recreation Passes from the Forest Service are also accepted.
Directions from Reedsport, Oregon:
- Travel 10.5 miles south on Highway 101.
- Trailhead is on the west side of highway near mile marker 222.