Exploring Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Cape Perpetua’s Headland – the highest point on the Oregon Coast

Cape Perpetua on the Oregon Coast is an area of amazing scenic sights as this is where the forest meets the sea. I spent some hours exploring this special place known as having the highest point on the Oregon Coast. Captain Cook first observed this headland in 1778 and named it after Saint Perpetua. It features rugged coastal scenery, blow holes, tide pools and a Sitka Spruce rain forest. Come along with me while I show you my day on this part of the Oregon Coast.

View of Cape Cove Beach from the Visitor Center balcony

I had saved a visit to Cape Perpetua for a day when the weather cleared up. We finally had a sunny, clear day the day before we were to leave nearby Seal Rocks Cove RV Park. My first stop was at Devil’s Churn, a channel cut into the rock where the tide surges in. This is best seen at the highest tide which wasn’t happening when I arrived. Several sets of stairs lead all the way down to the channel for the closest view. When the water is high the waves put on quite a show crashing in. Below is a panoramic photo of Devil’s Churn as well as a second photo at the opening of the channel.

Devil’s Churn
Opening to Devil’s Churn

A trail from the Visitor Center led to another section of coast covered with lava. The Spouting Horn is located here as well as Thor’s Well, a depression in the rock where the water rushes in, shoots up and is pulled back down into the “well,” creating an interesting effect that photographers love to capture. Below is a photo of Thor’s Well.

I walked as close as I dared as I didn’t want to be caught by a sneaker wave. I so enjoyed seeing water forced through holes in the rock and then soaring high into the air. It was mesmerizing and I stayed for quite awhile taking in the power of the waves.

After some time near the water I headed inland to walk the Big Spruce Trail along Cape Creek. I entered into what looked like a rainforest where everything dripped and trees were covered with thick moss like in the photo below. But is it moss or lichen? I did some research and still don’t know and feel I should …. it seems the older I get and the more I see, the less I know. Oh well, it was thick, spongy and so nice to touch.

Sitka Spruce trees thrive on the Oregon Coast where it is cool, rainy and foggy. They are very large trees, the third largest after the coastal redwood and Douglas fir and live a long time, up to 800 years. Here is some new information I learned about them; the wood is great for making musical instruments including guitars, harps, violins and pianos. Today’s Native Americans still make traditional wooden flutes out of Sitka Spruce. The trees have had a myriad of other uses, one example is that nearly all of the airplanes of the Allied Forces in WWI and WWII were largely made from Sitka Spruce.

A forest of Sitka Spruce
Walking the Big Spruce Trail

The Big Spruce at the end of the trail is one of the largest on the Oregon Coast and is noted to be almost 600 years old, over 185 feet tall with a circumference of 40 feet.

Looking up at the Big Spruce

I am glad I decided to walk the Big Spruce Trail later in the afternoon after my visit to see the blow holes on the coast. The ranger had told me when I checked into the Visitor Center earlier that afternoon that a class of “well behaved” 3rd graders were n the trail at the time. The trail was so narrow perched above a creek that as I walked I was trying to imagine how a group of school kids would have fared single file on it. Perhaps they caught the trail closer to the end at the Big Spruce which was possible from the campground. Either way, when I did my walk I had the trail, forest and creek to myself.

At Cape Perpetua a road leads to the top of the headland, the highest point on the Oregon Coast with views that are supposed to stretch for 37 miles. I didn’t end up going for a couple of reasons – it was later in the afternoon and I wanted to get back and I didn’t feel that day like driving the truck up a windy road to the top. To be honest, I don’t really like driving the truck that much, well really at all. I guess I miss my Toyota 4-runner. Luckily, Mark doesn’t feel that way about the truck as he is after all #bethsdriver. Of course, now I wish I had as I knew the view would be stupendous and it was a clear day. The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) that was started in the 1930’s by President Roosevelt built a shelter up there for checking out the view. They also completed trails, campgrounds and other improvements at Cape Perpetua. During our travels we have seen the result of many CCC projects and I am constantly impressed by this program whose efforts still provide so much to our country today.

Little Log Church by the Sea in Yachats

I have mentioned in past blogs how much I enjoy checking out historic churches on our travels. If I hear about one I always try to find it. I had read about the Little Log Church in the town of Yachats which is the closest town to Cape Perpetua. At first I had a little trouble finding the church, but was glad I made the effort. It is darling and even though it was not open, I could peek into the windows and see inside. This is one of the few log churches I have seen on our travels.

Seal Rocks RV Cove: View from the door of our trailer

And so we bid goodbye to our great campsite near the sea at Seal Rocks RV Cove. We knew we would miss the view! But it was time to head to our new location up the coast in Pacific City.

Sunset view from our trailer at Seal Rocks RV Cove

One thought on “Exploring Cape Perpetua Scenic Area”

  1. Wow that water force looks pretty incredible! I love seeing all of the pictures of the lush moss. It is so inviting and almost magical looking there.

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