A Perfect Day at the Oregon Coast: Hike, Beach, + Manzanita

My wife Krista and I just enjoyed a quintessential day on the Oregon Coast. We skipped Cannon Beach and Seaside, since they're pretty crowded on hot days, and went just a little further south to favorite spots on the north Tillamook Coast: Manzanita, Nehalem, Neahkahnie Mountain, and Short Sands Beach in Oswald West State Park.

We started early with a drive from Portand down US-26 to the scenic OR-53 and a really delicious breakfast at Wanda's Cafe + Bakery. Located on a quiet stretch of Highway 101 (at 12880 H St.) in the middle of tiny Nehalem, they may have the best breakfast / brunch and baked goods on the Coast, served in a beautifully cozy environment. Our omelets, home fries, fresh-baked bread, fruit, and jams were top-notch, and the other fresh baked goods looked fantastic, too. Lunch also sounded great, so we'll be back soon. Our favorite part may have actually been the back patio, though...it's filled with beautiful plants, artistic wooden structures like repurposed old windows and drawers, and handcrafted wooden furniture. We opt for outdoor seating whenever possible--and the cozy blanket was a bonus on the chilly morning--but the decor inside is special, too, with amazing tables made from refinished old barn planks, unique decorations including games, and the gorgeous house-baked items.

After breakfast, we drove 4.5 miles north of Wanda's on OR-101 to hike at Neahkahnie Mountain in Oswald West State Park; at 1,631 feet it's the tallest peak that sits right on the Oregon Coast--and one of our favorite hikes anywhere. Also written Neah-kah-nie, which in the language of the native Tillamook people means "The Place of the God," the mountain certainly lives up to its name. The South Trail is shorter and steeper, but we chose the longer North Trail, which passes through lush coastal native plants like salal and their tasty blue berries (shown in image) and stunning forest with carpets of oxalis and even ghost plants (Indian pipe, also shown). At the summit we took in some of the best views of the Oregon Coast.

We parked in the free lot across Highway 101 from the North Neahkahnie Mountain Trailhead (Latitude: 45.7484, Longitude: -123.9625), marked on the map of this post. The total hike up and back from that point is 5.4 miles, or you can shorten it to 3 miles by following the directions from the South Neahkahnie Mountain Trailhead listed here. Extend it to about 8 miles by starting at the Short Sands South Trailhead (see below).

Next we enjoyed a picnic lunch at Short Sands Beach (also called Short Sand Beach), which is 1.1 miles north of the North Neahkahnie Mountain Trailhead on 101. Also part of Oswald West State Park, the short hike from the South Sands Trail - South Trailhead (or the North Trailhead just a short stroll further north) to the protected beach is just as stunning as the ocean itself. You'll pass through beautiful, quiet forest with huge sitka spruce, lovely Short Sand Creek, and--if you bear left at the fork--cross the creek on a stunning bridge that bounces a bit for fun before arriving at the beach. We enjoyed watching the surfers, dogs, and kids that were especially enjoying the water. 

We finished the day just four miles further south in Manzanita, one of our favorite towns on the Oregon Coast. The beach is wide and expansive, and was still quiet and laid-back on this August weekend day when it was about 95 degrees in Portland (and a perfect 72-or-so degrees there). Feeling relaxed and rested, we strollled up the short main drag past the nice shops to enjoy a great inexpensive dinner at Left Coat Siesta (288 Laneda Ave, Manzanita). They also have a comfortable outdoor seating area surrounded by pretty plants, and we really enjoyed our "Big Burrito" and taco salad for $7.50 each, which include organic ingredients. It's not surprising that it's a been a favorite burrito spot on the Oregon Coast for over 25 years, and they have a delicious assortment of hot sauces, too. :)

The organic grocery next door (Wild: Grocery & Cafe at 298 Laneda Ave.) is also good, as is Manzanita Grocery & Deli - The Little Apple at 193 Laneda Ave. Both offer great deli items and a variety of beverages to make a memorable picnic at the beach.

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