From US 101 in Coos Bay or North Bend, follow signs to Charleston and Ocean Beaches. Roads merge at a “Y” intersection in Coos Bay’s Empire district, heading west on Newmark Avenue. Newmark Avenue reaches the bay and turns left (south), becoming Cape Arago Hwy. The road continues four miles to Charleston. Continue on Cape Arago Highway heading west past Bastendorff County Park to Sunset Bay State Park day use, located on the right (west) side. At the main entrance and parking area, drive to your left to the second parking lot. The trailhead is located at the right corner of the parking lot across a little footbridge.
Setting and Attractions:
Currently, this section of the coast trail ends at Cape Arago, but there are plans to have the trail continue down to Whiskey Run beach and connect with other sections located further south. Sunset Bay State Park has a hiker/biker camp and a gorgeous beach. From the Sunset Bay, the trail winds around the coastal bluffs offering spectacular views of the rugged Oregon coastline, past Shore Acres Botanical Gardens and Simpson Reef viewing area to the captivating Cape Arago State Park.
From Sunset Bay the trail winds along the coastal bluffs. Along the way there’s a sign for the Norton Gulch trail. This is a little side trail 0.25 mile in length that ends at a peaceful cove and beach. After hiking back up to the main trail, in 2 miles you’ll reach the Shore Acres. This boasts a great lookout and botanical gardens with a breathtaking array of native and exotic plants, including a rose garden. The trail continues on the other side of the gardens. After winding along the coast you’ll come to the Simpson Reef/Shell Island overlook, a great place to see California sea lions, Steller sea lions, Harbor seals and Elephant seals. The trail then crosses the road and begins on the other side. This section continues 1 mile and connects to the Arago Pack Trail near a group campsite and brings you back to the highway near south cove in Cape Arago State Park. Cape Arago has two trails to the south and north coves. Both coves feature beautiful tide pools with a great diversity of sea creatures and plant life. These area are protected and removal of the plants and animals is prohibited. Pets must be kept on a six foot or shorter leash and under control at all times on trails and beach areas within state park boundaries.
For more information, trail conditions and maps contact: Oregon Department of Parks & Recreation at (541)888-8867 ext.26 or visit the Oregon State Park web site at www.prd.state.or.us