With over 30 million acres of forest, Oregon is full of trees. But some of these trees are just a little more amazing than others, telling a story of the great relationship between trees, communities and our daily lives.
Selected based on their rarity, aesthetic, ecological value and historical value, Oregon’s Heritage Trees are irreplaceable. In manicured gardens, native forests and city blocks, there are more than 50 of these culturally and historically important trees across the state.
But the ones along the Oregon Coast are truly something special.
To celebrate these spectacular trees, ExploreOregonForests.org created a new geocache tour to five Heritage Trees along the Oregon Coast. From the scenic lighthouse at Cape Meares State Park to the beautiful Chetco Valley Museum in the city of Brookings, at each of these five Heritage Trees sites, you can collect a one-of-a-kind coin from Explore Oregon Forests.
You’ll also discover just how important Oregon’s trees are in our daily lives. Trees protect us against storms, regulate the temperatures of our homes and capture our local history.
Join us on the Heritage Tree geocache tour and see how many amazing and important trees Oregon has to offer. Pull out your GPS and come explore!
Heritage Tree #1, The Student Planter’s Grove (Tillamook):
The Tillamook Forest Center is an appropriate starting point for your tour. Before you hike to the first Heritage Tree, head to the Tillamook Burn Theater to watch the award-winning 15-minute film Legacy of Fire.
Barely a quarter-mile from the Tillamook Forest Center lies the first geocache location of the tour, the Student Planter’s Grove (Coordinates: N 45°35´11.0 W123°33´33.5). Collect your Explore Oregon Forests coin and discover how an army of volunteers restored the area by planting an estimated 72 million trees after the Tillamook Burn.
All that hard work deserves a treat. Hop in the car and drive 30 minutes west to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Tours of the center are free, self-guided and start whenever you like. Not only will you get an inside look at the cheese-making process, you’ll also get to sample a variety of world-famous cheeses.
Heritage Tree #2, The Octopus Tree (Tillamook):
At the end of Cape Meares Lighthouse Drive is – you guessed it – the Cape Meares Lighthouse. At just 38 feet tall, Cape Meares is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast and open daily April through October from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Just a 10-minute walk from the Cape Meares Lighthouse is a unique Sitka Spruce called the Octopus Tree, (Coordinates: N 45°29´04.0 W123°58´21.0). Unlike the trees you are used to seeing, the Octopus Tree does not have one main trunk, but rather more than six! Its base is over 14 feet across, and the tree is estimated to be around 250 years old.
Enjoy a spectacular view of the glorious Three Arch Rocks and delectably fresh seafood at, Roseanna’s Café in Oceanside, the highest rated restaurant in the area.
Heritage Tree #3, The Giant Spruce of Cape Perpetua (Yachats):
Although the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center in Yachats closes at 4:30 p.m., the trails remain open for daytime use. This is the longest hike of the trip; reaching the Giant Spruce is a 30-minute trek east of the Cape Cove Trailhead (Coordinates: N 44°16´51.30 W124°05´25.30).
Nearly 600 years old, the Giant Spruce of Cape Perpetua stand over 185 feet tall and has a circumference of 40 feet.
Get an authentic taste of the Pacific Northwest and dine at any of the popular restaurants in the area, including The Drift Inn Lodging and Restaurant, the Ona Restaurant & Lounge, and the Luna Sea Fish House.
Heritage Tree #4, Shore Acres State Park Monterey Pine (Coos Bay):
Shore Acres State Park is best known for its formal Japanese-style garden built around a 100-foot lily pond. From December through June, you might catch a glimpse of migrating whales from the enclosed observation building. After a quick, four-minute walk from the Japanese-style gardens, you will find the epic Monterey Pine (Coordinates: N 43°19´17.8, W 124°23´11.1), which at 95 feet tall was recognized in 2002 as the largest of its species in the United States.
Be sure to stop by the House of Myrtlewood before you head out of Coos Bay. It is one of the oldest and continuously working myrtlewood factories on the Southern Oregon Coast. There, you’ll find unique hand-crafted wooden gifts, from serving bowls and rolling pins to alphabet blocks, wine holders and more.
Heritage Tree #5, the Monterey Cypress (Brookings)
The final Heritage Tree sits only two and a half miles from the Oregon-California border. Park at the Chetco Valley Historical Society Museum and, without hiking, you’re already at the fifth heritage tree of the tour, the Monterey Cypress (Coordinates: N 42°01´44.9, W 124°13´57.2). The tree’s mass of foliage and branches growing out the trunk, also known of the crown, span over 100 feet wide.
This is part of a four-part series brought in partnership the Oregon Department of Forestry, which promotes the stewardship of Oregon’s stunning, diverse forests. Discover how working forests benefit Oregonians from flood control and timber management, to nature conservation and community engagement by visiting ExploreOregonForests.org.