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Heceta Head Lighthouse
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mini location map2015-05-29
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Heceta Head LighthouseNorth Coast, OR
North Coast, OR
Hiking avatar May 29 2015
Hiking1.00 Miles 188 AEG
Hiking1.00 Miles
188 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
(pronounced huh-SEE-tuh)
The name honors Bruno de Heceta, the Portuguese captain of a Spanish ship, who first sighted the cape in 1775. The beacon here first shone in 1894, using a 2-ton array of prism lenses that is still in service. This was the last of Oregon's dozen coastal lighthouses to be built. Bricks for the tower were shipped from San Francisco to Florence, carted down the beach, and hauled over the hills on wagons. The lens, with 640 delicate, hand-ground prisms, was off-loaded onto the cape by surf boat. Geology: Heceta Head and nearby Cape Perpetua are both remnants of oceanfloor lava flows. Long after the volcanic action had ended, this entire section of seafloor was buckled up by the advancing North American continental plate.

Newly renovated and reopened to visitors in 2013, the lighthouse is perched on a bluff 1000 feet above the ocean. You can see a bit of it slightly from the parking lot. As you head northward to your right is a dense coastal stand of Sitka spruce along with some very interesting and solid ground cover. The trail climbs 0.3 mile through salal meadows and spruce groves to an old road. At about the one-tenth mile you get a close-up view of the lighthouse’s bright red rooftop and the British-made Fresnel lens as it beams the light miles out from shore.

To the right is the Heceta Light Station, a white clapboard, 1893 duplex that once housed the two assistant light keepers. They say it is still haunted (allegedly by a young woman named Rue). The building is now a scenic bed and breakfast inn with six rooms. It would have been fun to go through. We continued to walk left along the old road 0.2 mile to the lighthouse itself. We stopped across from the gift shop to smell the roses first.

Lucky for us the next tour up was going right away. With our guide leading the way we climbed up the tower's 58 steps to see the lens rotating on its ball bearing track. It's really quite impressive, the structure and the rotation around the light. Fortunately there were only 4 of us as it can be a bit of a tight squeeze.
Once back down to the grounds you can look over the side to the ocean. I read the following:
There area 7,000 long-necked, black Brandt's cormorants that roost April through August on the rocks below the railed yard. (Tufted puffins, now rare here, were once so numerous that they gave the small offshore island its name: Parrot Rock.)

They say it is the most photographed of the lighthouses :) in Oregon. I would even get to see it while looking out of the Sea Lions Cave we would visit in just a little while. I also read:
The Devils Elbow is the name of the scenic cove beside Heceta Head. The cove won its name because it confounded early mariners with devilish currents. The picnic area here, long known as Devils Elbow State Park, was recently renamed Heceta Head Lighthouse Viewpoint Wayside because state bureaucrats wanted to avoid satanic references in state park names.

We continued back down to the picnic area stopping to read the interpretive sign about the area and seeing the picture of how they tried to beat the tide during horse and buggy days. Fascinating to say the least. Once back to the picnic area we again admired the Cape Creek Bridge. According to wiki: it is the first bridge in the world to have zinc thermal sprayed over the entire structure. There are many beautiful bridges along the Oregon Coast Highway, each seem unique.

From here we drove to the Seal Lions Cave, one of the great sea grottos of the world (largest in North America), comparable in size and coloration to the famed Blue Grotto in the Mediterranean. https://en.wikipedia.o... In order to make the trip, you must go down as well as come back up 37 steps to the building to reach the outside trails. There are about 400 yards of uphill and downhill walking at a grade that ranges from 10% to 20%. You end up taking the elevator that takes you to the cave. We traveled down 208 feet in an elevator at 250 feet per minute :o . There are also 63 steps in the cave in order to access the Heceta Lighthouse viewpoint which is really quite something. I didn't realize I would be able to see it from there so I was delighted :DANCE: .

I love one of the FAQ on the Sea Lion Cave website (the "we are not a zoo" part):
Are The Sea Lions Always in The Cave?
We are not a zoo. The sea lions come and go as they please, so they are not always in the Cave. They may be in the ocean, at the rookery, on rock ledges near the Heceta Lighthouse, or not here at all.
Here is a link to more info about the Sea Lion Caves http://www.sealioncave...

The hike to the lighthouse:
The tour and hike back to the Devils Elbow:
Part 1 of the Sea Lion Cave (including view of Heceta Lighthouse):
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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