Depending on who you ask, the Oregon Coast Trail is either 382 or 425 miles long. The difference depends on what you do when encountering bays, inlets, estuaries and rivers: do you go across, or around? Many creeks and rivers can be crossed only at low tide during the dry season, and require hikers to either take a boat over the water, or hike the long way around the rest of the time.
The Oregon Coast Trail runs the entire length of the Oregon coast. It is a work in progress, part of the Oregon state park system. Most of it is completed, but there are still some gaps between existing segments waiting to be filled. It runs as close as possible to the ocean the entire way; almost half of it right along the beach, in the sand — a real leg-killer if you haven’t trained ahead of time.
Along the southern Oregon coast, the most pristine segment of the trail runs between Bandon and Port Orford. The character of the coast changes dramatically over the course of the trail. In addition to beaches there are sections that run along the shoulders of roadways, and hiking paths across headlands and ridges as along the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor. Some of it runs through small towns.
To hike the entire trail from one end to the other usually takes about a month. Most people hike only part of it. The best time to do it is between June and September, because of the heavy rains that occur during the rest of the year. However, from March to September is also snowy plover nesting season, meaning certain restrictions are in place, such as no dogs and no camping on the beach near snowy plover habitat.
Campgrounds can also be found in state parks along the way, as can water, toilets and showers.
The Oregon Coast Trail is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in the world.
Next Up: #4 – Jet Boat Tours