Covered bridges are to rivers what lighthouses are to coastlines – a reminder of bygone days, an era both simpler and rougher. While covered bridges lack the protective role played by lighthouses (and are free of tales of hauntings!) they are structures of beauty that have largely outlived the time of their specific need, yet retain a mildly dreamy aura of nostalgia.
Fortunately, sometimes a well-meaning group takes up the torch on behalf of a historical landmark and drums up funds for its restoration – to the benefit of all who may choose to visit. The National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program served this role for the North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge.
I have visited Yachats many times in the decade I have lived on the Oregon Coast, but never ventured east from the Yachats section of Highway 101, always drawn instead to the ocean, content to focus outings around the breathtaking Great Blue. About six months ago though, when I discovered there was a covered bridge near Yachats, this inland reminder of the past was added to the top of my list of places to visit. I had only seen the Yachats River where it blends into the surf, so a cruise along its meandering bends en route to the North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge also held appeal. It took a few months, but my husband and I eventually carved out an afternoon for the excursion.
This is more of a scenic drive with a short walk at its limit. To increase the movement opportunities on your outing, pair it with another of the many beautiful Yachats walking locations.
The neighborhood along the North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge roadway in is an eclectic mix of rundown and ritzy, a combination of people squatting within four walls of questionable stability and those in grandiose homes of splendor and seclusion. While the early sections of North Yachats River Road seem seedy and a bit ominous (you half expect to see a grizzled fellow in long johns and suspenders run out and threaten you with his double-barreled shot gun as you pass), the area near the covered bridge has a nice Little House on the Prairie ambiance.
The North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge isn’t exactly set up for walking. But due to its isolated location on a country dirt road in a sparsely populated area, you can easily find a timeslot to traverse it on foot without interfering with traffic. No other cars approached from either side of the bridge while we were there.
A stroll through the enclosed wooden river crossing allows you to look up at its trusses, peer through the side vents at the water flowing beneath, inhale the cool dampness, and contemplate the remnant of history you’re walking through: North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge is one of only 51 covered bridges remaining in Oregon, when at one time up to 450 were scattered across the state.
|Terrain:||Dirt road on either end of the bridge’s wooden planks, all mostly level.|
|Fee: No fee|
|Directions:||In Yachats from Highway 101 southbound, turn left up the hill on Yachats River Road. Or, from Highway 101 northbound, turn right on Lori Lane and right again on Yachats River Road. After 7 miles, when the road Ts, turn left on North Yachats River Road. Follow this dirt road about 1.5 miles until you see the bridge. There is a pullout to the right just before the bridge where you can park.|