Oregon has a “Banana Belt?”
Oh yes, it’s true! Oregon’s South Coast is a near-tropical land, but you won’t find any pineapples, mangoes or papayas growing from the ground. Travel to the Brookings area to find soaring giant redwood trees and a wonderful collection of state parks.
In summer — when the surf and sand glisten and glimmer — some Oregon beaches seem all yours to wander and then wonder: how could so much beauty be found in one state park?
It is certainly true along the 12-mile-long Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, where day use sites will intrigue and invite you to stop in and take a gander.
Ranger Jean Phillips calls it “Oregon’s unique coastline: rocky, almost volcanic formations with sea stacks out in the ocean, many small islands and beautiful arched rocks that provide gorgeous views and photo opportunities of all sort.”
Sporting names like Arch Rock, Natural Bridges, House Rock and Whalehead, it is easy to see why this forested parkland along the southern Oregon Coast is a marvel.
But how best to start your explorations?
Ranger Jeff Gallemore says it is best to get your bearings near the border at Crissey Field State Recreation Site: “It’s a recreation area, not a campground, and it has the unique job of welcoming people to the state of Oregon.”
The Crissey Field Welcome Center, built of doug fir and cedar, offers soaring glass windows with beachside views that steal the scene. You gaze across sandy beachfront with more than 40 acres of public parkland. You’ll also find plenty of Oregon travel information inside the center and helpful folks who will set you on your own Oregon journey.
Perhaps you’ll choose to begin explorations just a few miles up the road at another state park called Alfred A. Loeb State Park, set in Oregon’s largest protected myrtle tree forest. Phillips calls it the “finest smelling campground in the state!”
“It’s like camphor or eucalyptus leaves and if you crush one of the leaves, it’ll clear out your sinus for sure…it has that sort of strong clean smell that’s unique to our campground.”
But the 200-year old myrtle trees aren’t the only giants living along the shores of the Chetco River. Phillips led the way and guided us on a short hike from Loeb State Park to the nearby 50-acre stand of ancient redwood trees. It’s a mile-long loop on the Redwood Nature Trail so you never see the same scenery twice.
“You’ll gain some elevation for sure, get a cardiac workout but halfway thru it’s all downhill. You begin on a fairly moderate ascent, but it isn’t long before you get into a steep climb. Once you get to the peak, it’s all downhill the rocky trail so you have to watch your step.”
Resistant to insects and disease, redwoods are the ultimate old-growth trees and they can reach a thousand years old or more. Managed by the US Forest Service, be sure to pick up a free brochure at the trailhead to help guide you to better understanding of the varied plant species you will see on the Redwood Nature Trail. The giant’s endurance is remarkable and provides the sort of perspective that will bring a smile to your face.
“You will see redwoods, myrtlewood, rhodies and huckleberries,” notes Phillips. “It is all so diverse due to the mild climate and heavy rain (average is more than 100 inches each year) and moderate temperatures. That is really what makes it possible for all the species to grow together. So, take a hike through the Oregon redwoods and see a side of Oregon that guarantees a lot of fun.”