One of the joys of being retired - the ability to go somewhere on a weekday and avoid weekend crowds. The Oregon coast is just over an hour's drive from my house. One September morning I decided to visit Hug Point, one of my favorite close-to-home beaches.
|Large rock on the beach|
It was the Tuesday after Labor Day, and since school had just started for most folks I thought it would be a good time to see the beach without too many people.
|Sunlight breaking through the morning fog|
Hug Point State Recreation Site boasts a stunning coastline that features sea caves carved by waves from sandstone cliffs. It also has a seasonal waterfall. But best of all, at low tide visitors can access an old wagon road chiseled out of a rocky headland.
|Unusual rocky shoreline|
Another way to avoid crowds - get an early start. Well, that usually works. However on this day, although arriving shortly after 8 am, I was surprised to see several large groups of people already walking the beach. And many of these groups included young children (shouldn't they be in school?)
|Lots of people on the beach for such an early hour!|
Despite the unexpected masses, it was a fine morning to be on the beach. The sun was just beginning to break through a fog bank, sending lovely shafts on light onto the sand. I'd timed my arrival for low tide, not only to access the old wagon road but also in hopes of seeing some tidepool life.
|Looking towards Hug Point|
A pleasant half mile walk from the parking lot got me to the foot of a large headland where the old roadbed was located. There's also a large sea cave directly adjacent to the roadway's beginning and a nearby waterfall (which today was dry, due to the hot, rainless summer).
|This old wagon road was blasted from the rocky headland|
After waiting for a family group to climb onto the old wagon road and move a sufficient distance away, I clambered onto the rocky shelf for a look around. This makeshift "road" was blasted into the headland rock near the beginning of the 19th century. At the time, no highways existed on the Oregon coast, and the only way people could travel was to use the beach. There was no way to get around Hug Point's headland, even at low tide, so early pioneers created this path to allow travel to proceed. Hug Point got it's name because travelers using this primitive road had to "hug" the cliffs closely as they traversed around the headland.
|Anemones in the tidepools on Hug Point|
Because the Hug Point shelf is underwater during high tide, you can find sea creatures in pools of leftover water at low tide. Right away I noticed one such tidepool was full of colorful anemones.
|Beach views from the north side of Hug Point|
After a few quick shots, a family with several kids crowded around the tidepool I was photographing. Not keen on being around so many people, I decided it was time to leave.
|More tidepool creatures|
I traversed the short distance across Hug Point to the beach located on the north side. Below the old wagon road were several large tidepools. They were full of anemones of all sizes and colors.
|Green anemones squished together|
Much photography commenced!
|Loved the light on these anemones|
I've been visiting this beach for many years, and I remember a time when the tidepools used to include seastars. However, in 2014 an unknown wasting disease killed up to 90 percent of the starfish population on the West coast. I understand that seastars are now making a comeback, but I've yet to see any in the tidepools in the northern Oregon coast.
|A group of colorful anemones|
Despite the lack of seastars, the variety and number of colorful anemones in Hug Point's tidepools more than made up for these missing creatures.
|Looking south from Hug Point wagon road|
After a good half hour tidepool photography session, I noticed the waves and ocean level beginning to increase. The tide was starting to come in. Time to skedaddle back across Hug Point! Not passable in high tide, you don't want to linger too long and be caught on the secluded beach north of Hug Point.
|Ocean view from Hug Point|
|Sun rays illuminate a heart in the sand|
But there was still enough foggy mist to make for some cool images. The sun's rays beaming down from shoreline cliffs illuminated this heart drawn in the beach sand.
|Wonderful sunlight in the forest|
And sunlight bursting from behind the trees in the forest adjacent to Hug Point's parking lot was spectacular. Kind of looked like an angel descending from Heaven.
|View from Crescent Beach trail|
After spending a wonderful two hours at Hug Point, I drove back north to hike at nearby Ecola State Park, next to the town of Cannon Beach. Taking the short, but steep Crescent Beach trail I slogged through lovely coastal forest, complete with more fabulous sun rays. The trail offered a few glimpses of the beach to come.
|Lovely forest on Crescent Beach trail|
By the time I reached Crescent Beach, it was near noon, and the light wasn't great for photography. But I enjoyed a quick break watching the waves crash on the sand and several pelicans diving into the ocean for lunch (about then I was wishing I'd packed my big lens!)
Although I live so close to the Oregon coast most of my time is spending heading in the opposite direction to the mountains and Columbia River Gorge. This trip was a reminder that there's also plenty of good stuff to see if I point my car west of home!