Port Orford Heads State Park

The Trails

Today we return to Port Orford Heads.

Last September we took a short hike on the Headland Trail, leading to the Pacific Ocean, where we watched a few whales and observed sea lions basking on the rocks. Then we visited the Lifeboat Station, now a museum.

Frequent shipwrecks along the southern Oregon coast, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to select Port Orford Heads as a logical site to build a lifeboat station. (Oregon State Parks brochure)

Today we just want to hike the rest of the trails, revisit our whale watching spot, and enjoy the dramatic views. Oh, along the way, I stop and “smell” the flowers…

So, settle back and enjoy a leisurely hour hike with us.

As soon as we park and exit the car, I am drawn to flowers blooming in the parking lot. It’s an overcast day but the flowers are so bright and perfect.

We begin on the Headland Trail again, heading north toward Cape Blanco.

Sea lions are still there.

But no whales are seen spouting today.

We head back

and intersect with the Tower Trail.

The Coast Guard observation tower no longer stands, but between 1934-1970 the lookouts watched for not only signals from ships in distress, but during World War II, watched 24/7 for enemy aircraft, ships, and submarines. All that remains today are the concrete footings and the view. (Oregon State Parks brochure)

We return via the Cove Trail.

Peaceful teal-colored waters appear through the pine trees.

It’s Nellies Cove.  The boathouse housed two 36-foot motor lifeboats until it burned down in the late 1970s. A steep stairway with over 500 steps connected the Coast Guard crew’s quarters with the boathouse. A rail-mounted carriage was used to launch the boats into the cove.  (Oregon State Parks brochure)

The trail ends at the Lifeboat Station Museum.

From the museum grounds we take the beginning of the Tower Trail, heading south again.

It’s obvious that this was a popular .6 mile out and back trek because buried beneath the pine needles are the remains of a black-topped sidewalk. When the lifestation was decommissioned in 1970, the lookout tower was removed. (Oregon State Parks brochure)

Instead of continuing to the site of the tower, we head back north at the intersection of the Headland Trail, retracing our steps back to the parking lot.

You can bet that I will be back here often looping around, intersecting with the different trails and retracing my steps to create a brisk hour and a half walk. But beware, I may still take more pictures each time I visit this place of dramatic views with a perilous history.

That’s what I love most about the Pacific coast here in Port Orford. It’s raw nature.

2 thoughts on “Port Orford Heads State Park

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