During his tenure as Oregon governor, Oswald West paved the way for perpetual public access to the state’s coastal beaches. In recognition of his efforts, Oswald West State Park was given his name. If you appreciate being able to visit any section of Oregon shoreline you choose, you can direct your gratitude to Mr. West.
Situated on a mountain pass between Cannon Beach and Manzanita, Oswald West State Park contains miles of beach and forest, with extensive trails outlined for their enjoyment. Several turnouts along Highway 101 provide admittance to these amenities. Many of the trails are lengthy, but I have identified two walks for those of us with limited mobility. Their parking areas are less than two miles apart.
You’ve likely heard of Short Sand Beach, a surfing and bodyboarding destination in Oswald West State Park. My husband and I trekked the beginning of the half-mile trail to this popular beach on a rainy winter day. I managed the initial gravelly decline and paused beneath the overpass while my husband forged ahead. With no seating options soon approaching, turning around was the best choice for me. I was disappointed not to see the famous surf, or the suspension bridge en route, so sought an alternative walk.
Upper Short Sand Creek Trail veers right where the path to Short Sand Beach turns left. While it does not end at the ocean, you can experience Oswald West’s lush forest. Although there is no picnic table or bench, attaining the footbridge does give one the feeling of reaching a goal. Short Sand Creek flows rapidly over rocks and under the bridge, a watery reward before the return hike.
|Terrain:||Downward slope about on medium packed gravel, which levels out as you approach the bridge.|
|Seating:||No, so be prepared to make the uphill return.|
|Fee: No fee|
|Restrooms:||Yes, at south end of the parking lot, before the trailhead, about 50 steps from the nearest parking. There is a bench near the building, so if the walk is at the limit of your ability, you may want to pause here before proceeding.|
|Directions:||Along the stretch of Highway 101 in Oswald West State Park, the large parking area for this trail is near the bottom of the grade. The trail starts to the right of the restroom building.|
This Historic Highway Site overlooks the coastline to the south from a mountain vantage. There’s no actual trail here, but you can cruise the wall’s edge, checking out the expansive view from all angles. Informative signs in a brick-paved semicircle provide tips and history for the area.
A Whale Spoken representative was present during our visit and gave us his self-proclaimed “high tech” demo. This consisted of two lengths of rope: 60 feet to demonstrate the length of an adult, 15 feet for a baby. It was an amusing yet effective way to give us perspective on the enormity of these gentle marine mammals.
|Terrain:||Level pavement, gravel, and brick pavers.|
|Seating:||No benches, but the multi-level rock wall could be used for seating.|
|Fee: No fee|
|Directions:||Along the stretch of Highway 101 in Oswald West State Park, this turnout is at the top of the grade, marked with a “Historic Highway Site” sign.|