Hike of the Week: Oregon Coast Trail to China Beach

See arches and sea stacks—and no people—when you visit the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor in winter.
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Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

Photo by Grant Ordelheide (@grantordelheide)

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7 miles (out and back)
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: 2.5 out of 5

Summary

You'd be forgiven for thinking this coastline was the product of some artist's fantasy. Here, near the California state line, erosion and uplift have joined forces to sculpt the seabed into seven arches and dozens of sea stacks. 

Visit in winter when temps in the 50s and rain keep casual hikers in hibernation. First, tackle the 7-mile out-and-back to China Beach: From Indian Sands (42.1568, -124.3614), take the Oregon Coast Trail north past dunes to Thomas Creek Canyon, a 350-foot-deep defile. Cross the ravine on a bridge, then reconnect with the Oregon Coast Trail as it wends through Sitka spruces en route to China Beach. You’ll see more rocks and sea stacks poking out of the surf than you can count. 

After, tick off the Natural Bridges Trail, a .5-mile out-and-back to an overlook of Secret Beach, where you can spot two arches, including the narrow slot pictured here. Not fantasy, just geology.

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