Will Walk For Beer

Halfway to CA!

The city of Florence is approximately the halfway point of the Oregon Coast Trail!! In the planning process, a month felt long now it is hard to believe I am halfway done! We packed out beers and hiked in to have coffee we didn’t have to make! Sometimes it is the little things. Like approaching 100 miles it did not come easy.

Trail Magic & The Tunnel

Early in the day at Heceta Head lighthouse, we were expecting our last chance to refill the water. No such luck. We explored the lighthouse, which is beautiful, and headed onward to the parking lot and glanced for a water spigot one final time. Still nothing. Somehow the trail provides. A kind couple we’d talked to at the lighthouse waited for us in the parking lot. They ran out two full bottles! A little extra insurance for the day that lifted my spirits before the day’s next daunting task, a narrow Hwy 101 tunnel.

The200 yard tunnel just past Heceta Head lighthouse is uncomfortably narrow should an RV, or god forbid a logging truck, go by. I hit the “bikes in tunnel” button, said a quick prayer, and sprinted when there was a gap in traffic. Cars flew past us, the echoes resonating all around was disorienting. Minivans sounded like logging trucks. Once the shoulder widened and a guardrail appeared, we stopped to catch our breath. Instantly, two massive RVs towing cars blew by us.

Baby Snowy Plover

Beach and dune camping is possible past Florence, however some planning and thought is required. ORVs and ATVs are allowed in the dunes and some places on the beach. Open riding is 6am -12pm, and permitted riders can disperse sand camp. Do not expect to be lulled to sleep by the ocean only to find yourself kept awake by engine noise. The terrain is also, much more conducive to a dune buggy RV setup than a tent.

The other limiting factor is very adorable and very important! Restrictions for nesting Snowy Plovers run from March 15th to September 15th. Access is limited to wet sand only in known nesting sites. These adorable birds were once almost extinct but have impressively rebounded due to these regulations. A National Forest volunteer told us that the babies have thumb-sized bodies with full-grown adult legs! I highly recommend looking up baby snowy plover pictures. You can thank me later. Despite having to keep a close eye on the regulation map, we lucked into fantastic camping options!

Must Find Camping

Just north of Heceta Beach, we arrived at a magical place where Plover restrictions end as the beach borders the Sisuslaw National Forest! Sutton Creek could not have come at a more opportune time. The last 5 miles we walked in a sandstorm! With 10 miles on the day, this oasis of legal camping with trees appeared, and we instantly bailed. Grateful to be out of the wind and to see more than 20 feet ahead, we snacked and regrouped. An early morning took us to Florence for much needed coffee and water. 23 miles on the day we took advantage of fantastic dispersed camping! Threemile Lake is tucked about a half mile off the beach in the dunes. It’s a slide going down and a climb coming back up. Other than the sand it feels like a forested mountain lake. Absolutely gorgeous! We packed out beers from Florence to celebrate 200 miles. I could not have picked a better spot to celebrate the halfway point of this journey.


Typically a charter company will shuttle OCT hikers across Winchester Bay if you call in advance. Unfortunately, this year due to the late salmon run their fishing camp at the bay was not up for the season. It was a bummer for us to have missed such a generous resource. We were fortunate to discover this in Florence and could adjust accordingly. Not wanting to skip the long stretch of beach from Florence, subsequently, Threemile Lake, an alternative included a road walk into Reedsport and Winchester Bay.

The morning’s first miles were not ideal. Sparrow Park Road sounds so quaint. In reality, it can hardly be called a road. Nearly four miles comprised of soft sand, transitioning to a crater-filled dirt and gravel mud pit chock full of mosquitoes. I had all my rain gear on to combat the bugs, not to mention cougar prints in the sand! Never before had I been so grateful to see the highway! We rewarded ourselves with beer and lunch at Blue Box Seafood in Winchester Bay. I haven’t stopped for fresh seafood as much as I would have initially liked, and it is worth it! Blue Box catches all its own fish and is a funky layout of shipping containers, has all outdoor seating & looks like it would be quite the party on a summer Friday night! The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing at Lake Marie, a short walk from our campsite at Umpqua Lighthouse St. Park. Carl experienced hiker grocery shopping at the Reedsport Safeway for lake day snacks! Our morning hustle was well worth it in the end.

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