Bandon moved to among my favorite coastal Oregon towns when my husband and I discovered the Coquille Point Interpretive Trail. Although we’d visited Bandon several times, we had somehow missed this paragon of seafront scenery. Stupendous views of the Oregon coastline and Bandon Islands surround you as you walk this broad, flat loop trail.
Encompassing of the Coquille Point Unit of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, this area has become a Bandon tourist destination and local exercise route. The “interpretive” part of the trail is comprised of instructive signs dispersed along the path. We spotted eight, covering area-relevant topics: the Endangered Species Act, nature’s balance, bird eating habits, bird migration, Murre vs Puffin identification, marine mammals, Coquille Point history, and Coquille Indian sites.
Trailside seating options are described below. Although some of the spans between resting points are longer than the 200-step limit typically adhered to by 100 Steps, the excellent terrain, engrossing scenery, healthful air, and soothing lull of waves lapping on the shore below make each interval pass easily when compared with more difficult terrain or less beauteous surroundings. If you are able, it is well-worth the extra exertion!
Even if you make it no further than the trail’s first resting point, a south-facing bench near the 11th Street SW parking lot, you will not be disappointed. Arresting rock formations, a keyhole cave, sea stacks, miles of deep blue, and frothing coastline stretch before you from this plateau perch.
On the way to the bench, you pass a multi-leveled staircase descending to the sand. If beach-strolling is your goal, this is the way. I did not attempt it, so do not have a step count or know if there are any benches.
Continuing from the South bench, about 250 steps westward will land you at the next resting option. Across the cliff-top grasses, more of the area’s varied rock outcroppings spread just beyond the surf’s edge. Miles out to sea, the full length of sky kissing the ocean expands along the watery horizon. Prime seating at sunset!
Proceeding along the circuit, the next bench offers north as well as west views. Table Rock is just offshore, and the Coquille jetty is visible in the distance.
From here, there are three options to continue your outing:
Proceed with the loop. It turns away from the ocean, but allows you to read the rest of the instructional signage. You can pause again at the South bench (just a bit out of the way) in about 300 steps, or can head straight to your vehicle which is closer to 450 steps.
Return the way you came. This keeps the ocean in sight, and allows for more frequent resting.
Continue. If you’re ready for more, you can continue on to 8th Street benches (the next resting spot described). If this is your choice, continue the loop, but turn north when the trail branches. You’ll need to return the way you came, though, so be sure to consider this when you choose.
8th Street benches
About 400 steps from the north bench lands you at the 8th Street benches. Table Rock and the Coquille jetty are closer and the elevation is a bit lower than from the north bench. Reaching the benches from the trail involves negotiating about 75 steps of grass, and a narrow dirt section for roughly 30 steps. This is bit dicey compared with the pristine condition of the actual trail.
Below these benches, there is a path and stairs for beach access. Although still a significant descent, this appeared a more moderate alternative to the 11th Street stairway if your heart is set on reaching this beach. I did not traverse this route, so have no step count or terrain details.
If you drive to the end of 8th Street SW, you can park very close to these benches. We were not aware of the main trail entrance from 11th Street SW, so started our sunny fall morning trek from the smaller 8th Street lot, eventually meeting the loop from this northern trail extension.
|Terrain:||Broad, flat paved trail between south, west, and north benches. Reaching the 8th Street benches has a gradual decline, with the last 75 steps in grass and 30 steps in dirt.|
|Seating:||Bench with a back at the south, west, and north resting spots. Two metal benches with backs at the 8th Street resting spot.|
|Fee: No fee|
|Directions:||Just south of downtown Bandon, follow Beach Loop Drive to 11th Street SW. The map shows how to reach the parking area. The northwest corner of the parking lot is closest to the nearest (south) bench.|