This lovely section of the Oregon Coast Trail treats the hiker to miles of beach walking where you are unlikely to see another soul, and ends at the base of the highest point along the OR coast for good measure.
The Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) traverses the entire coast of Oregon - nearly 400 miles. How is this possible, you ask?
The WHOLE Oregon coast is public property! Yes, the entire coast!
In 1967, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill establishing public ownership of all land along the Oregon Coast from the water up to sixteen vertical feet above the low tide mark. No hotel or private person can fence off parts of the beach for exclusive use, like you see in many places. Although some parts of the beach remain privately owned (pre-1967 ownership), state and federal courts have upheld Oregon’s right to regulate development of those lands and preserve public access.
The Oregon State Parks Dept began developing the OCT in 1971, declaring it officially "hikable" in 1988. At present, connecting some sections requires hiking along the shoulder of US HWY101 or other roads. New sections continue to be a work in progress, with a target date of 2021 for final completion.
Head south on the beach, rounding Coquille Point and then the point at Face Rock. Once you hike a mile or two south of Bandon, you will enjoy 13-14 miles of coast to yourself - likely the most remote section of the entire OCT. About 6 miles south of Coquille Point, you reach the mouth of New River. Note that I took this distance from a 2009 source, but the mouth of New River tends to get altered by winter high water. Therefore, the mouth may be considerably further north or south of this in any given year. New River should be an easy wade at low tide.
From this point, you will be confined to your own private beach between the New River to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Stay down near the ocean (the easiest place to walk, anyway), avoiding the area denoted with signs and/or fencing. The dry sand and stabilized dune area along this stretch is off-limits to hikers from March to Sept to avoid disturbing nesting snowy plovers. Continue south, scanning for an "INFORMATION" post along the crest of the dunes about 1.5 miles past the New River mouth. This post marks the north end of the New River Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), and you can hike into the dunes just past the post to read an information sign if you wish. Back on the beach, continue another ~3.25 miles to a second "INFORMATION" post. This second post marks the location of the only legal campsite on this stretch of beach - hike up to the post and past to the campsite sign. The campsite is just a small area cleared of vegetation, but it is protected from the wind off the ocean.
Continue 4.25 miles to the end of the plover fencing and a break in the dune. To detour to Boice Cope Co Park on the north side of Floras Lake (for camping or water), follow footprints to a trail that leads east to the park.
The route from Floras Lake onto Blacklock Point can be confusing, so be prepared to backtrack a bit. From the beach or Boice Cope Co Park, you want to get onto a trail that heads through the dunes around the west side of Floras Lake (use one of the breaks in the dunes to cross over from the beach side). Hike along this trail for ~1 mile, until it starts to rise onto the bluff. Once you reach a major trail junction marked by large boulders, you have a choice. Either bear right here, then left, to hike the official OCT route that follows the cliffs to meet the Blacklock Point Trail in 3 miles (bear right at all subsequent junctions). However, this trail is prone to severe erosion and may or may not be passable - bushwhacking here is no joke!
Alternately, go straight, which puts you on the Airport-Floras Lake Trail. Instead of scenic views over the cliffs, this trail offers easy hiking along an abandoned dirt road through dense forest. Follow the trail 2.25 miles through the woods to the end of the Cape Blanco State Airport runway. Cross the end of the runway and bear right at the trail junction just after onto Blacklock Point Trail heading west. Continue for 1 mile, bearing left at all remaining junctions (most signed), to reach the beach on the south side of Blacklock Point. It is well worth the short side trip to Blacklock Point itself before heading down the steep trail toward the beach.
Follow the beach south ~1.25 mile to the Sixes River, another easy wade at low tide. From the river's mouth, follow the beach almost to its end (~1 mi) and look for a steep trail leading up to the road at the top of Cape Blanco (not signed as of July 2015). The OCT crosses the road (signed) and becomes a mowed path then a forest trail leading about 0.5 mile to the state park campground. The campground has a hiker/biker site (no reservation, $5 per person per night).
From the campground, continue on the trail until you meet up with the paved beach access road. Follow the road ~0.5 mile down to the beach on the south side of the cape. After ~1.3 miles you will reach Elk River, another easy wade at low tide. Continue ~4.3 miles, nearly to the base of rocky Port Orford Heads and go east to a trail leading off the beach just north of a low dune (a bright yellow beach access sign makes this easy to spot). Take this trail to the parking area at Tseriadun State Recreation Site. Follow Agate Beach Road east out of the park for ~0.75 mi to US HWY101 (Agate Beach Road becomes 9th Street). Follow the highway south (sidewalk) ~0.5 mile through the town of Port Orford and return to the beach at the Battle Rock wayside.
If the tide is low, follow the beach ~2.25 miles to Rocky Point, and scramble around the point. Continue down the beach another 0.25 mile, watching for a path heading up the brushy hillside and leading to a gravel road up to US HWY101. Follow the highway shoulder another 0.2 mile.
If the tide is too high to scramble around Rocky Point, walk south ~0.9 mile from Battle Rock, looking for a path leading up to US HWY101. Follow the highway shoulder south 1.8 miles.
Turn east off the highway on a road just past the sign for Humbug Mountain State Park and follow it as it curves right, then bear right and walk past the gate at the OCT trailhead sign. The OCT follows the old coast highway route ~2.6 miles to Humbug Mountain State Park. The state park has a hiker/biker campsite, no reservation needed.
There are 3 rivers of note (New, Sixes, Elk) to cross in this section. Read safe river crossing tips here.
In addition, bring a tide table and use it to time your crossings to low tide. Attempting to cross at high tide can be deadly, especially when river levels are high.
The New, Sixes, and Elk Rivers are reliable and can all be used for water. Just be sure to collect your water far enough upstream to avoid saltwater contamination.
Potable water available at: Bandon South Jetty Park (start point), Boice Cope County Park on Floras Lake (~17.5 mi, minor detour), Cape Blanco State Park (~25.5 mi), Battle Rock Wayside (~32.9 mi), and Humbug Mountain State Park (end point).
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.