Elk Flats Trail – Oregon
New Years Day, which, yes, happened over a month ago, was spent hiking with my sister. It was a beautiful cold winter day – a perfect day for hiking along the Oregon coast. We hiked the Elk Flats Trail (EFT), a portion of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT), to Short Sand Beach in Oswald West State Park.
We started at the trail head and parking area (more like a gravel pullout) on Highway 101 where the OCT crosses the highway. On the east side of the highway, we could see the north Neah-Kah-Nie trail signs. We took the trail on the west side, traveling north through OWSP. As we began, we took a short detour to the Devil’s Cauldron Overlook (0.1 mile). Like I said, it was beautiful day – cool and clear – perfect for scenic stops. We then proceeded along the Elk Flats Trail (1.3 miles).
Reaching Short Sand Beach, or “Shorty’s” as called by locals, was a happy moment. I’m not a huge fan of destination hikes, there and back along the same trail, but reaching the beach made the idea worth it. As we approached, we caught glimpses of the beach while still winding through the beautiful coastal forest.
Despite being winter cold, there were still surfers and boogie boarders out enjoying the waves. Photographers were out. Families and groups of friends were hanging out. Happy dogs played with their equally happy people. No doubt about it, it was apparent that this little beach is a popular spot. If it hadn’t been so late in the day, I would have like to walk the whole beach. From the end of the trail I could see a waterfall on the other side of the cove-like area. Maybe during my next visit, I might get a closer look!
If you’re going to hike the EFT, the southern trail head is not as easily found as the northern end. The next time I hike this portion I believe I’ll park my car at the Oswald West Parking lot and hike up along the EFT to highway 101 and then meander back down the trail. Oh, and the trail isn’t flat, despite any ideas from its name! The trail seemed to predominately slope down as we traveled northward. Thinking about hiking back to our car felt like a hike back up. It was rather rough and at times, muddy, along the trail.
We actually didn’t end up hiking back up the trail. Instead we power walked the mile along Highway 101. Stupid idea. Don’t do that. Give yourself enough daylight hours and wear shoes you’ve already worn in (my poor sister was got a blister) to hike to and from along the trail. Yes, it was quicker and slightly (0.3 miles) shorter, but there is no path to speak of and the cars speed by fast. I was quite shaken (literally shaking) by time we got back to the car. Not a good way to end a hike. The next one will be better!