July 27, 2012. With over 300 miles of rugged coastline, Oregon has a lot of sandy beaches tucked away among its headlands and each one is unique. Mention Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock springs instantly to mind. Indian Beach at Ecola State Park, and it’s a misty image of wetsuit-clad surfers riding the waves into a small cove. Cobble Beach is black with volcanic cobbles, and Taft Beach? Picture a long curving stretch of sand littered with driftwood. And oh, what driftwood! We’re not talking skinny little pieces you can carry home and carve into walking sticks. Most are huge logs or the trunks of mature trees with their root balls still attached.
Taft Beach is located on the north shore of Siletz Bay. Walking along the hard-packed sand next to the water, the eye can’t help but return again and again to the jumble of driftwood cast up by the sea. Some of the logs have been charred and blackened by campfires. Others fashioned into crude shelters and wind breaks by fussy landlubbers so they can escape the stiff breeze off the ocean. A few are clearly forts built and then abandoned by an “army” of kids. Careful! Before you know it, you might find yourself wandering up into the midst of all that weathered wood just to take a closer look. What then?
Push on toward the ocean, hang a right, and there’s a stretch of uncluttered sand long enough to satisfy the most ardent beachcomber. Brightly colored kites fly high overhead and a line of pelicans can often be seen skimming over the waves offshore. If you’re a wave-watcher, the water is especially turbulent where the bay’s outwardly flowing current meets the ocean’s incoming tides.
Walking back in, watch for crabbers along the shore throwing crab rings into the water. There’s also a colony of harbor seals who love to sun themselves on a sand spit nearby. Best place to watch their antics? From a wooden pier that juts out into the bay.
Taft Beach is located at the southern end of Lincoln City on the Central Oregon Coast. From Highway 101 (Oregon Coast Highway), turn onto 51st Street and head toward the ocean. Pass under the welcoming arch featuring Taft Beach’s crab mascot and continue on to the parking lot at the end of the street. Ample parking available most of the time, though it may be crowded on a busy summer weekend.