Although one of the few coastal campgrounds between Tillamook and Astoria, Nehalem Bay State Park was sparsely populated during our winter holiday stay.  It is a great launch pad for scenic points north (Ecola State Park and other sites near Cannon Beach), and provides quick access to the sleepy town of Nehalem and the adorable community of Manzanita.

Described here are a couple of the in-park walks my husband and I scouted.

Bay-side picnic table

25 Steps Wheels:

We frequented the boat ramp vicinity in both rain and shine, viewing the calm, broad bay from in-car and out.  You can enjoy a meal or simply savor the view at the well-placed bayside picnic table.  The town of Wheeler and a section of Highway 101 are visible across the bay.  The distant road noise makes it less peaceful than some waterfront vistas, but focusing on the water’s ripples allows the clamor to fade to the background.

Walk Details for Bay-side picnic table
Terrain: Pitted paved parking lot. Level if you navigate around the spots needing repair.
Seating: Picnic table
Fee: Day pass, recreation pass, or camping receipt
Restrooms: Left of the launch as you face the water. 50 steps on level rough pavement.
Directions: After entering the state park, follow signs to the boat launch. Picnic area is left (inland) from the launch

Boat ramp beach

75 Steps Wheels:

Immersed when the tide is high, if you like shoreline strolling and can maneuver the slope to the sand, you may enjoy this driftwood-strewn stretch of beach during ebb or low tide.

Walk Details for Boat ramp beach
Terrain: Pitted paved parking lot. Level if you navigate around the spots needing repair. Uneven grass, and then a moderate decline on uneven sand until you reach the beach.
Seating: No
Fee: Day pass, recreation pass, or camping receipt
Restrooms: Left of the launch as you face the water. 50 steps on level rough pavement.
Directions: After entering the state park, follow signs to the boat launch. Beach is left (inland) from the launch on the far end of the parking lot. You can see from the parking lot if the beach is available or under water. Step count is to reach the beach. Length of stroll from there is up to you.

Bay loop trail

200+ Steps Wheels:

This 1.8 mile loop trail is a highlight of Nehalem Bay State Park.  The initial 250 steps, on broad pavement speckled with pine needles, lands you at a waterfront bench to partake of the view.  Carried in from upriver, assorted branches, logs, and uprooted stumps decorate the bay’s edge.

Walk Details for Bay loop trail
Terrain: Broad trail of good quality level pavement. Last portion to reach the bench is gravel, still level.
Seating: Waterside bench at destination of this trail segment
Fee: Day pass, recreation pass, or camping receipt
Restrooms: No. Nearest are at the boat launch.
Directions: After entering the state park, follow signs toward the boat launch. Before you reach the boat launch, you will see a parking area on the left, with a cross walk at one end. The trailhead is clearly marked from the indicated parking area on the same side of the road as parking.