32. Sisters Rock
Ever since a locked gate was installed in front of the unmarked road leading to the beach at Sisters Rock (the parties at this unofficial campsite were getting a mite too rowdy), the 300-foot-high monolith has become substantially less popular. And that’s a good thing, for if you leave your car at the (still unmarked) pullout and walk a quarter-mile down the rutted road, you might find yourself alone atop the high, windswept isthmus, staring at a sheltered black-sand beach, a maze of offshore rocks, and a shelf of glittering tide pools. Climb up and over the rocks ahead to reach the mouth of Sisters Rock’s yawning sea cave. Here, as the foaming surf boils up and then peels away from the cavern’s darkness, as the wind billows and heaves, you can imagine yourself a castaway. And at this solitary spot, in a way, you are. Park at the unmarked pullout at milepost 135.
33. Up the Rogue
By the time you’ve made it all the way to Gold Beach, it’s easy to become weary of oceanfront splendor. Whale this, cormorant that—yep, 360-odd miles of beautiful coastline is a lot to swallow. The antidote lies up the Rogue River. Fresh water, eagles, big trees. This is what you need. Head out of Gold Beach on North Bank Road (don’t miss the right turn at the 3-mile mark), where, about 10 miles upriver, you’ll cross the spindly Lobster Creek Bridge. Make a right on the other side, and then a quick left onto the steep Forest Service Road 090 to reach the start of the Shrader Old-Growth Trail—an easy, mile-long loop hike through a stately grove of giant firs and Port Orford cedars. Cross back over the bridge and turn right up Silver Creek Road to find the half-mile trail to the largest known Oregon myrtlewood tree, which first took root 200 years ago. Finish with a cool dip in Lobster Creek’s clear waters, which pool up by the hairpin turn just north of the bridge (note that it dries up in late summer). Do all this, as prescribed, and you should be ready to embrace the sea once again. Head east out of Gold Beach on North Bank Road to begin the adventure.