Gold Beach and Beyond
After spending some time at Shore Acres State Park, we made our way back to the 101 and continued south to Gold Beach where we stayed with our friends, Adam & Hong, for a couple of days. It was really great to catch up after so many years. One evening, we made a sunset visit to the tiny wharf of this rather tiny (pop. 2300) Oregon coastal town which sits at the confluence of the Rogue River. Despite its size, you have to admit that it’s quite photogenic. Gold Beach derives its name from the fact that hundreds of placer mines extracted gold from a nearby beach in 1853. The town holds the interesting distinction of being one of the last two remaining rural mailboat locations — delivering mail upstream since 1895 to Agness, an extremely remote community.
Aside from the ever-popular jet boat tours on the Rogue River (which we experienced way back in 2001), there is very little to do in Gold Beach. However, it makes an excellent launching pad for visiting several spectacular scenic locations farther south along the Oregon Coast. The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor offers a multitude of landmarks to explore with craggy bluffs, secluded beaches, and offshore rock formations that can be accessed by a variety of trails. This 12-mile stretch along Highway 101 is replete with breathtaking vistas.
For those (like me) who can’t negotiate more challenging trails, there are many turnouts where you can enjoy some of the area’s beauty from the side of the road or within easy walking distance.
One of the best viewpoints in the park can be found at Natural Bridges, a series of seven iconic arch rocks and blowholes. A short but very steep trail leads to a narrow bridge you can actually walk over if you are brave enough. Even though Adam has lived in Gold Beach for five spring/summer seasons, he had never had the opportunity to go there and was anxious to experience it with us. We set off on the path together, but I soon realized this was not a safe adventure for me. The trail was uneven, rocky, and potentially dangerous requiring more dexterity than I happen to possess at this point in my life. So I turned back and happily waited on the overlook platform for Adam and Norman to appear atop the bridge and eventually, they did! Norman wasn’t bothered by the height and thought it was really cool. He did have to scramble quite a bit to get there and back though. Better him than me!
Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor affords striking panoramic views. Driving through a dense forest of Sitka spruce once you turn off the 101, you arrive at one of two expansive parking lots situated over 200 feet above sea level. Looking south, you can see almost 50 miles toward Crescent City, California… on a clear day, of course.
During this brief trip, we learned that the Southern Oregon Coast offers a myriad of opportunities to take in the wild and rugged side of nature. And it’s not far from home! Hopefully, we will return to make some other discoveries.
Next up… time to head north!