The word that comes to mind when thinking about the Oregon coast is character. There are so many capes and lighthouses and beautiful rocks jutting up from the ocean floor. It is unlike anything I have ever seen, and while we were ready to move on to new adventures, I truly cherished the couple of weeks we spent slowly working our way down the coast.
On 1 of our final days on the coast, we made our way to Heceta lighthouse. We arrived mid-morning on a Sunday, so we expected it to be a little busy. It was (but not as busy as when we left!). From the parking area, there is a nice, paved ½-mile walk up to the lighthouse with incredible views of the cape (there is also a longer 3-mile trail, but we opted for the shorter route). We had already visited 1 of the more northern lighthouses (Meares), so it was fun to now be visiting 1 of the southernmost lighthouses as well.
We let Bird walk the trail, so it was slow-going. While her frequent stops can be a little much at times, it is so fun to see the world through her eyes. And it is important to remember that she is not necessarily stalling or deliberately taking forever, she is experiencing her environment in ways we have long forgotten how to. For example, Will and I blew right past a huge bush of black raspberries and were utterly confused when she started asking incessantly for berries. We had seen these bushes on several occasions and picked some for her, and she saw them and let us know. I have done my best to adopt a slower pace and to stop and point things out to her that I notice, like a worm or a flower, that I know she will enjoy and that will offer a learning moment. And sometimes, we just really want her to put 1 foot in front of the other and keep on moving.
Once we made it to the top, Bird and I took a quick look inside the lighthouse and then she had a snack while we all enjoyed the beautiful views. As we sat for a few minutes, more and more people continued to come up the path, so we wrapped up our visit, made a quick stop at the gift shop for our postcard and sticker, then made our way back to the truck where we had lunch.
We had planned on heading either down to the beach adjacent to the parking lot or to Hobbit Beach right down the road, but as we saw the parking lot filling to capacity and people milling all about, we decided to head home for the afternoon and return to Hobbit Beach for sunset.
We made the right call.
The trailhead to Hobbit Beach is right around the corner from the lighthouse, and when we pulled in, we were the only ones there. A delightful sign. So, we got Bird situated in the backpack, made sure we had her bucket, bowl, and spoon for playing in the sand, then made our way down the ½-mile trail to the beach.
The trail was absolutely gorgeous, and it was evident how it got its name. There are lots of little wooded alcoves along the trail and a few places where the trees make a tunnel to walk through. It was so green and lush. Toward the bottom of the trail, there is a long tunnel where people have brought tons and tons of crab shells and lined the walls. This portion of the trail was quite smelly and really creeped me out (it was better going down when it was fully daylight as opposed to later when it was just a little too dark in there).
However, once we made it through that tunnel, the trail pops out right onto the beach. It was quite the dramatic entrance! And we found the beach absolutely deserted.
Thankfully, the girls were happy playing in the sand close to the cliffs a ways back from the beach, because there was an algae bloom or something that had brought a lot of jellyfish in with high tide and left them there with a green foam when the tide went out. The beach was covered with jellyfish parts and another not-so-pleasant smell.
Even with the questionable goings on at the water’s edge, we managed to have an incredible time playing in the sand, running up and down the beach, and climbing and sliding down some sand dunes. We brought home so much sand in our shoes.
The sunset was just starting to get really colorful when we decided to make our way back up the trail before it got too dark, and we reached the truck right at dusk.
Between the lighthouse and the beach, it was a fun-filled day full of fresh salty air, wonderful memories, and questionable smells. Both of these short hikes offered incredible views and experiences and would definitely be on my must-do list if we ever make it back.