Although an easy day trip from my home in Florence, I avoided stopping at Smelt Sands State Park for several years. Visiting the location where small amorous fish occasionally rendezvous just did not sound enticing. Don’t let the park name be a put off! Two magnificent yet different coastal show pieces are within easy reach, and ample seating is available as you exercise and imbibe in the beauty. Weather, sea, and tidal variances make this location an ever-changing panorama.

Smelt beach overlook

125 Steps Wheels:

I was pleased and surprised to learn that this state park is the launch pad for the well-known Yachats 804 Trail. A short jaunt from the parking lot lands you at a picnic table perched on a low bluff above gritty blackish sands peppered with boulder remnants from the larger rock formations just off shore. During our visit we were wowed not only by the sea spraying and cascading over rocks, but also small yet frequent fountains spurting a just bit farther out, emitted from migrating whales.

Walk Details for Smelt beach overlook
Terrain: Dirt trail, well groomed, broad, and nearly level.
Seating: Picnic table
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: In the parking area, 30 steps on a flat gravel path
Directions: Just north of the Adobe in Yachats, turn west on Lemwick Lane, then branch left. The road turns to gravel and leads to the parking lot. From the trailhead in the parking lot, the picnic table is straight ahead. You can save 25 steps by going through very uneven grass, or use the safer route by heading slightly north and turning left near the informative sign.

Lava rock overlook

200 Steps Wheels:

You’ll likely encounter friendly locals getting their daily exercise as you head north to another rock-tacular view. At appropriate tide levels, frothy waters cascade and churn over an outcropping of dark stone battered smooth by the sea. During our visit several fisherman decked out in water repellent garments to better fair the more formidable wave crashes tossed lines into the agitated foamy blue. Have a seat, breathe deeply, and enjoy this fabulous seaside wonderland.

Walk Details for Lava rock overlook
Terrain: Dirt trail, well groomed, broad, and nearly level.
Seating: Two benches with backs overlooking the rocks in the water. One of the two benches has a small plaque with an uplifting message…you’ll have to visit yourself to read!
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: In the parking area, 30 steps on a flat gravel path
Directions: From the smelt beach overlook picnic table, follow the trail north.

South end overlook

175 Steps Wheels:

Alternatively, or perhaps in addition to, heading north from the picnic table, you can follow the trail south, appreciating different angles of this seaside spectacle. From the vantage of the beach’s south end, you may see folks clamoring along the rocks and browsing the tide pools. Wandering south from this resting point, 50 to 75 step intervals will allow you to bench hop through the lawn in front of the three-story building, extending your journey until you feel quenched.

Walk Details for South end overlook
Terrain: Dirt trail, well groomed, broad, and nearly level leads to a wooden footbridge. Incline leads to bench situated in the grass which is uneven in areas.
Seating: Backless bench is the first you see after the footbridge. If you need to rest before the first bench, there is a large smooth log about the right size for sitting just south of the footbridge, perhaps 50 steps shy of the bench.
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: In the parking area, 30 steps on a flat gravel path
Directions: From the smelt beach overlook picnic table, head south and cross the footbridge.