Perhaps it was the weather…the first of what turned out to be a string of sun-filled April days offering a welcome reprieve from the Spring rains. Or perhaps it was because we were camping nearby, so the time could be spent more leisurely. I’d been to Winchester Bay several times, and although I’d always enjoyed this quaint harbor town, I had never appreciated it as much as on the particular evening when my husband and I explored the “middle spit” of the Salmon Harbor Marina.

Tucked in between treed hills and the lower Umpqua River, you can stroll the sidewalks and docks, browsing the boats, watching the waterfowl, absorbing the ocean air, and (for us, on the evening of our visit) imbibing in the tranquility of the area. Unlike the harbor area closer to Highway 101, the only retail establishment on this part of the harbor is a floating restaurant. Its prime audience instead is those who are fishing, crabbing, and dry camping.

The sun had emerged from behind quickly thinning clouds for the evening as we arrived. We grabbed some food to go and headed to a picnic table at the empty campground. While dining, yachts, houseboats, sailboats and fishing crafts nestled in their berths were our tableau. Whether by design, or a product of my imagination (and earlier stop at the nearby state park), I found it amusing that the electric panels for the watercraft resembled miniature lighthouses – they even light up at night! During our meal and subsequent stroll and drive, we spied loons, grebes, geese, ducks, gulls, pelicans and osprey.

Before leaving, we drove to the north end of the parking lot. The sun sparkled on a wide portion of the Umpqua and we snapped a few more photos as the rolling waves crept in from the ocean between the nearby jetties. It was a worthwhile detour on our return to the campground and a great end to our outing.

So was there something special about the day, or is Salmon Harbor Marina just special…you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Harbor area

Stroll Wheels:

The sidewalk and docks along the west basin of the harbor invite strolling. You can meander as desired while enjoying the waterfront sights. There is picnic bench on the grassy slopes near the floating barge restaurant (Unger’s Bay Fish n Chips). A backless bench can be reached in about 100 steps. There are more benches along the sidewalk, and picnic tables in the camping areas which are interspersed between the docks. I did not pace them out, but they appeared within 150 or 200 steps of each other.

Walk Details for Harbor area
Terrain: Sidewalk and pavement, all flat. Ramps provide access to boat docks.
Seating: Benches and picnic benches at various points in the stroll
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: Four separate buildings spaced throughout the parking lot
Directions: To reach the “middle spit” of the marina, turn off Salmon Harbor drive onto Ork Rock Road.