Oregon Coast Trail Official Signage FAQ
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are a great way to better prepare for successful and safe hiking and backpacking along the Oregon Coast Trail.
Learning everything from the trail basics to the most important information needed is offered as a starting point to plan your trip.  More specific details relative to logistics, such as a suggested thru-hike intinerary, can be found in the website's Plan section.  

Q: Who can hike the trail?
 A: Everyone!

Literally hundreds of thousands of people of varying ability hike or walk sections of the Oregon Coast Trail annually without ever knowing it!  About half the trail is along the beach itself, and most everyone takes a walk on the many very accessible beaches of the Oregon Coast, visitors and residents alike.  There's also specific coastal trails developed in many Oregon State Parks, some are short walks providing access to viewpoints, some provide opportunities for short and all day hikes, too!  And connecting beach with inland and headland trail systems means overnight and long-distance backpackers can enjoy longer trips as well.  Those willing to accept and embrace the challenges of connecting between unfinished gaps with existing trail sections can also do significant multi-day treks or essentially thru-hike the entire length of the Oregon coast.  There's also places with access for people in wheelchairs or with limited physical ability, and the trail could be rated from easy to difficult depending on the specific section of coast.

Q: What do I need to know and bring along when traveling the Oregon Coast Trail?  
A: Advice from Experienced Hikers & More!
If you're going out even for a short to a full day-hike or longer, then at the very least carry what's commonly referred to as the "ten essentials."  Since hiking along the Oregon Coast can especially mean rain and wind -- even in summer your can be at risk for hypothermia! -- and lot's of sun exposure (not only directly overhead but also reflected by sand and seawater!) carrying an emergency rain poncho and wool watch cap as part of your clothing and sunglasses and sunscreen are good things to add to your pack.  Backpacking overnight means you'll also need all the proper clothing and gear, food and water to accomplish your overall trip goal

Bonnie Henderson has hiked the entire length of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) as a long-distance backpacker and is the author of Day Hiking Oregon Coast (See the Book section for specific details.)  The following information from her blog website is her personal advice about what she considers "the basics" and also about sleeping and safety.

Q: When's the best time of year to hike the Oregon Coast Trail?
 

A: Open Year-round, but Summer is Best.
People planning to actually backpack, doing overnight camping and multi-day treks, summer is definitely the best time with most sunshine, less rain and storms, and lower water levels to more safely and successfully be able to wade creeks and rivers.  Specifically, mid-June to mid-September is most recommended, and though June thru September could also work, there's more potential for rain in early June and late September with late spring and early fall storms.  May and October are not recommended given the potential for heavy rain, and high winds with associated wind waves that can create life-threatening situations involving everything from hypothermia to large branches falling and crashing to the ground!  Wind waves can even close down sections of trail where waves are washing across entire beach areas, not only during storms, but also afterwards.  The annual rainfall and temperature averages for Newport, Oregon along the central coast is a good example of what to expect weatherwise.

You can, however, hike any time of year, depending on where you go and the weather.  If the weather is nice, even in winter, then you can have a great day or portion of it hiking somewhere along the coast.

Q: Where can I hike along the Oregon coast? 
A: Essentially Anywhere and Everywhere!
One objective of developing an Oregon Coast Trail is to allow you to create your own adventure anywhere along the entire Oregon coast.  (Contrary to popluar belief, although Oregon coast beaches are publicly accessible to the existing vegetation line, certain inland areas and bluffs above the beach are not publicly accessible.)  Again, though, it depends on weather, waves and in some places the tide level.  The sun may be shining after a major storm, but the waves having absorbed all the wind energy may be gigantic, surging inland and covering the beach!  Inland trails may be fine in terms of no wind, but there may also be some mud and fallen trees after a major fall, winter, or spring Pacific storm.  So, you really need to figure out from guidebooks, this website and other available resource what trails are appropriate for you to hike.

Q: Why hike the Oregon Coast Trail?  
A: The Oregon Coast Trail offers a Unique Long-distance Coastal Hiking Experience!

The Oregon Coast is indeed a very special place to explore!  Comparable to other long-distance trails, paths, walks and tracks around the world, it has it's own unique places, history and culture.  

Beginning at the mouth of the Columbia River with an incredibly rich history and geology all it's own, one initially encounters everything from the remains of the 1906 Peter Iredale shipwreck to being able to walk in the footsteps of members of the 1804-06 Lewis & Clark Expedition!  Next you encounter Tillamook Head and eventually Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, both remnants of the westernmost extent of ancient Columbia River Basalt lava flows from over 300 miles away!  

Besides seastacks and rocky headlands, your also sometimes hiking through the largest temperate rain forest ecoregion on the planet with rainfall amounts as high as 3 meters (10 feet) within a year!  These forests are lush and green, with some of the tallest trees in the world growing along the Oregon Coast, such as Douglas Firs and Sitka Spruce.

Commercial Fishing,and logging, two of the most dangerous ways in the USA to make a living, and cranberry farming and Native American gaming represent some of the unique cultural lifestyles of some who live along the Oregon coast.

Adventure and recreation -- or rather "re-creation" -- await you along the Oregon Coast Trail!

Q: How do I get to the Oregon Coast Trail?
A: The best option is most likely by bus, but you could drive a car and fly to various locations, too.
Since there are various bus lines from Portland and other bus service both out to and along the coast, using this option is one of the best. Here's the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Intercity Transit and Taxi Service Finder that provides specific details on various transportation options around the state by bus and train.

You can also take your own car or rent one, but overnight parking, especially leaving a car somewhere for a number of days, can present a challenge both in terms of finding a place it's legally allowed and also one that would be safe and secure from potential breakins and theft.

Airports exist along the coast if you happen to have a plane.  Apparently, though, the only airport with regular commercial service is the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport along the south coast in the North Bend/Coos Bay area.  This specific airport could be a great option, though, if focusing on hiking the south coast portion of the Oregon Coast Trail, either begining from the airport and heading south or ending your trip from the north at the end of the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area.

Q: How do I cross streams, creeks, estuaries, rivers and bays?
A: Some already have bridges with pedestrian access, some are wadable depending on the tide, and you need to arrange boat transportation for the others.

One of the challenges of hiking along the Oregon Coast Trail are getting across streams, creeks, estuaries, rivers and bays!  Many of the larger and deeper rivers and bays are spanned by wonderful historic bridges, such as the Yaquina Bay Bridge, where beautiful form and function were combined when originally designed!

There are various rivers and bays that require a boat ride.  Three major water crossings where there are already available ferry services include Nehalem Bay, Tillamook Bay and the Umpqua River.  The boat ride option at these specific locations is considered by experienced backpackers to be the best preferred option both in terms of overall logistics to maximize the recreational experience and also to avoid the potential safety issues associated with walking along the major coastal highway, Highway 101.  See the Plan section for specific details for these specific areas.

Other water crossings offer the potential option, depending on water flow, tide levels, waves, wind and weather of actually wading or fording smaller rivers, creeks, streams and estuaries.

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