hidden coast harts cove
Image: Mark Gamba

Hart’s Cove, a hike through old-growth forest on the coast.

13. Hart’s Cove

For most of the year, the road to the trailhead of the coast’s most spectacular hike is blocked by a locked gate, a barrier that lets the endangered Oregon silver spot butterfly and hairy checkermallow flower peacefully do whatever it is they do in a lonesome seaside meadow. But on July 16, the gate is drawn back, allowing you to drive to the 2.7-mile trail’s start. After winding through an old-growth forest that clutches to the windy cliff tops, the trail dissolves into an open bluff some 900 feet above the sea. Keep to the left to hike down to Hart’s Cove itself, where the barks of sea lions reverberate off sheer walls and a waterfall arcs into the brilliant blue bay. At the crest of the hill south of Neskowin, turn west at milepost 101.5. Keep left at the fork in the road to reach the trailhead parking area.

 

hidden coast otis
Image: Daniel Root

14. Otis Café

Since the 1920s, this diminutive diner just a mile east of Highway 101 on Highway 18 has understood that roadside fare need not be of the greasy spoon variety. Today the café—with four booths, one table, and a handful of seats at the counter—is still worth a detour: Current owner Jeff England, who bought the place in 1996, has kept it exactly as he found it, and he’ll still sling you a hearty breakfast plate piled high with the café’s trademark German hash browns, or serve you a house-made slice of marionberry pie. Don’t forget to pick up a loaf of freshly baked molasses bread for the road. It’s a pantry staple for Otis locals, and a perfect snack for a hike to Hart’s Cove. 1259 Hwy 18, Otis; 541-994-2813

15. Nelscott Reef

You may have heard of this legendary Oregon big-wave surf spot off the coast, but odds are that you’re not sure exactly where it is. That’s understandable. The monster swells only appear come winter, and they break more than a half mile offshore. But when the Nelscott Reef TowIn Classic gets underway—usually sometime in December—you can haul a beefy set of binoculars down to the Lincoln City beach (just behind the goofy little Christmas shop north of Spanish Head) to watch the world’s best charge down 30-foot waves. One thing not to ask, even in jest: “Hey, is that a great white shark?” The dates of the Nelscott Reef TowIn Classic depend on ocean conditions, so if you want to go, you’ll have to check www.nelscottreef.org almost daily, beginning in October.