Visit the Natural Arch or travel further north to the world-renowned Pistol River. Whether hiking, fishing, strolling along wide-open beaches, surfing, whale and bird watching, or just sitting and absorbing the stunning scenery, it will be the highlight of your coast vacation.
Brookings – Harbor straddles the mouth of the Wild and Scenic Chetco River and is the western gateway to the Siskiyou National Forest and the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
Brookings is also home to the northern most stand of redwoods.
The stunning Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is a 12-mile stretch along the coast, of forested park with its spectacular coastline, rocky outcroppings, and smooth, sandy beaches. Marvel at Arch Rock, the Natural Bridges, and the shore birds or position yourself to watch the migrating whales.
These breathtaking views are easily accessed from US Highway 101 for the casual traveler to what might be the most amazing scenery on the Pacific Coast. Hike portions of the 27-mile Oregon Coast Trail (PDF) that starts just north of Brookings near House Rock and continue to Arch Rock. Harris Beach State Park with yurts, cabins, camping and full hookups is also just north of Brookings. Enjoy the California sea lions, Harbor seals, and go tide pooling at the rich marine gardens.
The Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor starts just north of Brookings Harbor and continues to about half way to Gold Beach.
For more information, download a brochure of the park.
Arch Rock is a natural bridge located just off shore in the blue Pacific ocean. A convenient parking lot just off Route 101 offers ample parking and a short paved walk is just the place to try out that digital camera.
Arch Rock is the near the northern end of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor and is also the northern end of a long stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail that rarely touches US Route 101. This portion of the trail offers stunning views and is well worth hiking. This unbroken portion of the trail continues south to House Rock and is excellent for day hiking.
Arch Rock is located about midway between Brookings and Gold Beach.
South from the parking lot, there is about a 0.3 mile hike along the Oregon Coast Trail to a view of Spruce Island. Continue along the trail and visit the not-so-secret picturesque Secret Beach and Miner Creek.
North from the parking lot, the coast trail leads to Arch Rock Park. The hike is about 1/2 a mile and is fairly easy.
Secret Beach is a very small beach located on a trail just south of Spruce Island Viewpoint and north of Thunder Rock Cove.
There are two theories as to how this beach got its name. One is that there is not an official parking lot or designation. The other is that the furthest of the three beaches is only accessible during exceptionally low tides and was visited by only a few people each year.
Secret Beach is hardly a secret anymore and, although very pretty, it is visited by tourists. The first beach is accessible at any tide. Follow the path down to the parking area, then there is a steep and somewhat challenging climb down a rock, across a small stream to a beach. At low tide, it is possible to head south to a second beach. At a very low tide (-2 ft) there is a tunnel that is open to walk to the second beach. Also, at a low tide, there is a short cave to walk further south to a third beach, which is actually the beach below Thunder Rock Cove.
There are two parking lots used to access the beach. The shortest hike is from a small unmarked parking lot between the Spruce Island and Thunder Cove parking lots. Turn off just before a guardrail. Others park at the Thunder Cove parking lot and take the trail to the north. This is a bit longer hike, but the parking lot is easier to find and access.
The Oregon Coast Trail travels along Secret Beach within the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. Access is from US Route 101 between mile markers 345 and 346.
Download a PDF of the hiking area.
Thunder Rock Cove
Thunder Rock Cove is a little visited parking area north of Brookings because little is visible from the lot. However, be certain to take the hiking loop out to view the rocks out to Thunder Cove. This section offers some of the most spectacular views that visitors rarely see who do not venture far from their cars.
Those who take the short hike are rewarded with views of crashing waves, tiny beaches and inlets as well as a collection of marine birds. The well maintained trail gets right up to the edge, so be certain to watch the children and pets. This is a portion of the Pacific Coast Trail / Oregon Coast Trail (PDF).
From the parking lot, when reaching the trail head to the right for the best views and follow the loop. Continue after the loop for a hike down to Secret Beach.
There is an unofficial trail to the left, but it is not well maintained and it is not recommended.
From the Indian Sands parking lot, there is no view, so many people pull in and immediately return to Route 101. However, for the adventurous, the hike is worthwhile.
Hike through the woods and downhill. At the bottom of the hill, turn right and head towards Indian Sands.
Indian Sands is an archeological site that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Oregon State University has found evidence of human activity there dating back more than 10,000 years (digging is forbidden by law). To the casual hiker, the most spectacular part of Indian Sands are the arch and rock outcroppings on the south side of the sandy area, so please don’t rush through here and miss this sight.
Note: The hike starts at the parking lot and is steeply downhill. There are sandy spots that are slippery.
Indian Sands is located on Route 101, between Brookings and Gold Beach. It is north of Whaleshead Beach and south of the Thomas Creek Bridge. It is between the 348 and 349 mile marker.
Indian Sands is located on the Oregon Coast Trail.
Whaleshead Beach is easily accessible from the road with parking, restrooms and picnic tables. Because of its easy access, the north end of the beach does attract some activity (not that any beach on this part of the coast ever gets really crowded), while the south end of the beach is usually absent of human activity. The beach is wide, even at low tide and is one of the longer beaches on the Oregon coast.
Whaleshead Beach got its name because a prominent rock on the beach, when struck at just the correct angle by a wave, gives off a spout like a while.
House Rock is a viewpoint on US Route 101 north of Brookings. The viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
This point is named after a rock that looks like a house.
There is a rock located off the viewpoint that resembles a house. House Rock is located just a few miles north of Brookings along route 101 and is part of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The Pacific Coast Trail travels through this viewpoint.
Lone Ranch Beach
Lone Ranch Beach is located 4 miles north of Brookings. Lone Ranch is one of the best places along the Pacific Coast to visit the tide pools at low tide. The rocky beach traps pools of salt water making it perfect for beginners to explore the mystery of marine life.
Cape Ferrelo is immediately north of the parking area.
At low tide, it is possible to walk around the base of the Cape, but be careful to return before the tide moves back in.
Lone Ranch and the nearby a creek is frequented by a fair variety of perching birds. Rock wren have been sighted in the rocks; while bobolink, Northern harrier, American kestrel, and red-tailed hawk have been found along the hillside near the beach. Harlequin duck and black oystercatcher have been identified near the creek. Bring along a scope and observe loon, grebe, scoter, and common murre off shore. Sooty shearwater migrate off of Lone Ranch Beach in September.
There is a public restroom and several picnic benches, each with its own fire ring. Lone Range is handicapped accessible.
There is easy access to Lone Ranch, which is located immediately off of US Route 101.
Harris Beach State Park
Walk the sandy beaches. Marvel at the eroded sea stacks. View the birds on Bird Island (Goat Island), the National Wildlife Sanctuary and the largest island off the Oregon coast. Enjoy the Harbor seals, the California sea lions and the rich marine gardens just waiting for your tide pooling activities.The migrating gray whales travel just offshore during their winter and spring migrations.
Harris Beach State Park is a relaxing, scenic coastal stop rich with marine wildlife, just the perfect place to enjoy the spectacular coast. The Oregon Coast Trail travels through Harris Beach State Park, offering a casual hike along the coast. Harris Beach and the nearby Cape Ferrelo are designated as whale watching sites. Bird Island is a breeding site for such rare birds as the tufted puffin.
Harris Beach State Park is located on US Highway 101, north of Brookings. The day-use area offers a restroom and picnic area with tables.
The Chetco river travels through the heart of Brookings – Harbor ending in a beautiful harbor which is home to commercial and pleasure ocean fishing boats.
The Chetco runs from the Kalmiopsis Wilderness for 55 mi (88 km) and has been designated a Wild and Scenic River. Major activities include salmon and steelhead fishing, whitewater kayaking, four wheel driving, swimming, boating, camping, sightseeing, picnicking and hiking.
Swimming Near Brookings
During the warm season, the residents can often be seen swimming or drifting down the Chetco river. It is important to note that there are no life guards at the many swimming spots. And in the spring into the early summer, the river currents can be strong and the river cold from the winter snow melts. However, if you know where to look and are careful, swimming can be fun.
Kayak and tube rentals are available for the Chetco River at:
Chetco Riverside Market
98877 N. Bank Chetco River Rd.
Brookings, OR 97415