Spring has sprung in Lincoln County, and with it, so many incredible outdoor opportunities to explore! From Lincoln City to Yachats, there is always somewhere to explore, whether it is the sandy shores or the river’s edge. In this first of three articles, we will be exploring a few locations near our central campus, from Otters Crest Loop to South Beach.  

While there is so much to see and do in the towns and cities throughout our county, we will be focusing on nature-based activities that are free access for everyone. With a brief introduction to some of the natural sights, we hope you will join us! 

Devil’s Punchbowl, as seen from above. Due to erosion, some of the trail along the top edge of the viewpoint is closed for safety. . Photo: E. Bjornsgard

Otter Crest Loop: 22 minutes north of central campus 

This loop west of Highway 101 has several places to pull over and watch the waves. On clear days, visibility over the ocean can be several miles, and at certain times of the year, you may see migrating Gray Whales traveling to and from Alaska! Main attractions along this loop tend to be the Ben Jones Bridge, Cape Foulweather (shown above), and Devil’s Punchbowl, a natural rock formation carved over time by the movement of the waves. The town of Otter Rock also draws a large surfing crowd, with rentals available for those who choose to brave the cold Northeast Pacific Ocean. South of Devil’s Punchbowl, a sandy beach appears, which continues down the coast until Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, at the northern point of Newport.  

A Golden-Crowned Sparrow feeding on seeds, as seen along the trail. Photo: E. Bjornsgard

Yaquina Bay, Hatfield Marine Science Center Interpretive Trail: 6 minutes north of central campus 

While Hatfield Marine Science Center is currently closed, the HMSC Estuary trail is easily accessible along Yaquina Bay, and offers an easy one-mile walk. Birding is a favorite activity along this trail. Plenty of shore birds forage in the mudflats and shallow waters, while song birds can be spotted in the trees or tall grass by patient visitors. Clamming is also a popular activity, with more information available from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.  In most cases, harvesting requires a license through ODFW,

Sandy shores stretch from the south jetty of the Yaquina River to the south. Photo: E. Bjornsgard

South Beach, Jetty and State Park Day Use: about 5 minutes from central campus 

If you are looking for sandy beaches, South Beach is the place for you! With two main approaches within the South Beach community of Newport, plenty of parking, and stretches of long sandy beach allow for social distancing and fun! Kites are available at plenty of Newport businesses, and picnics among the dunes are a must (as long as it’s not too windy).  

Stay tuned for more locations, near north and south OCCC campuses! Have fun adventuring!