My husband and I most recently visited Heceta Beach on a pristine summer day.  Warm sunshine and only the lightest breezes ruffling our hair made it T-shirts and shorts weather – infrequent but fabulous conditions for the Oregon coast.  The soft purr of nearby waves lulled us as we watched the seaside goings on.  This included a variety of walkers, a pair of bicyclists, a sunbather and several loungers, some folks journaling, and many frolicking dogs.  We were particularly entertained by his-and-her beagles, one fixated on the ball tossed by his mistress, the other on a remote control car steered by his master.  While a pooch retrieving a ball or stick is a common sight, the little fellow chasing and dodging this motorized playmate was especially amusing.

Oregon beaches often require scaling a fore dune or negotiating long stretches of loose sand in order to reach the packed sand that makes strolling more easily manageable.  Heceta Beach does not require dune climbing, and often has minimal loose sand.  So if these are your only obstacles to coastal wandering, this may be a good pick.

There are several places to access to this 7-mile stretch of Oregon shoreline; I have covered two here.  Regardless the entrance, it is typically 800 to 1000 feet from parking to water at Heceta Beach, depending on the tide – in other words, at least 400 steps.  If your goal is to dip your toes in the sea, you may want to bring along your own seating.  (Or try a different venue: Sunset Bay and Alsea Bay Beach are options I’ve found that are both flat and a short distance to the ocean.)

County Park entrance

125 Steps Wheels:

The Heceta Beach Lane County Park is the most “official” entrance to this beach.  Entered along the north end of the Driftwood Shores Surfside Restaurant, a wide path leads to the sand.  There is a log alongside the path at the above indicated step count that allows you to rest and enjoy a view of the ocean side activities.  On the day of our outing there was another log 100 steps from the path-side log.  This particular drift log was of a girth that made it appear only the largest of storms could budge it, so it may remain in place for a while.  You may encounter more or less ocean-supplied seating options during your visit.

Walk Details for County Park entrance
Terrain: Broad, smooth pavement with moderate slope turns to small gravel, followed by 15 to 20 steps of large gravel, and then packed sand. A path-side log is reached within the above step count, with a few steps in loose sand at the end.
Seating: Large driftwood logs at varying intervals. Beach conditions are always changing, so may differ on your visit.
Fee: Day fee or Lane County Pass
Restrooms: On the way to the beach. 30 steps from nearest parking.
Directions: North of Florence, follow Heceta Beach Road off of Highway 101 until it Ts, then turn right and continue past Driftwood Shores. The road ends at the parking lot. Step count is from the three 30-minute parking spaces. One of the 30-minute spaces is reserved for handicapped parking.

South of Driftwood entrance

150 Steps Wheels:

The same wide swath of sand described above can be accessed via a smaller lot on the south side of Driftwood Shores.  Prior to actually walking it, I thought this would be the easier and shorter of the two entrances but instead found the path here is steeper, narrower, and a bit longer.  If walking conditions are a concern, I recommend the other entrance.

Walk Details for South of Driftwood entrance
Terrain: Mild downward slope on small, somewhat loose gravel to loose sand. One part of the path had an irregular drop off about stair size. The step count above reaches a log just after the path There was a wide stretch of loose sand before the packed sand of the open beach.
Seating: Large driftwood logs at varying intervals. Beach conditions are always changing, so may differ on your visit.
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: No
Directions: North of Florence, follow Heceta Beach Road off of Highway 101 until it Ts, then turn right. The parking lot is on the left, just before Driftwood Shores.