Tahkenitch Creek Loop Trail

This listing is provided by Travel Southern Oregon

A four-mile strenuous hiking trail.

This short loop gives you a taste of a vegetated dunescape, with shore pine and Sitka spruce colonizing interior dunes, and pine shading the deflation zone scoured of sand by prevailing winds. Tahkenitch Creek meanders through the high dunes, and then cuts a course parallel to the beach for two miles before emptying into the ocean. This loop as described does not reach the beach although there’s a short option via a ford of the creek and a longer option using the beach trail.

Tahkenitch Creek issues from Tahkenitch Lake, one of the barrage lakes in the Oregon Dunes area. The lakes were formed when lower creek valleys, “drowned” by rising sea levels after the last ice age, were dammed by shifting sand dunes. Most of these lakes have “numerous arms,” which is apparently what “Tahkenitch” means in Siuslaw.

Take the gravel trail down from the parking area through a thicket of evergreen huckleberry, wax myrtle, silk tassel, and salal shaded by shore pine and Sitka spruce. Switchback above a loop in Tahkenitch Creek to reach a junction with a spur that leads to the creek bank. Keep left to cross a footbridge over the driftwood clogged creek – notice a plethora of Styrofoam floats as well – and cross a boardwalk that leads through the thickets. The trail rises along the mossy slope of an old dune and switchbacks right across a sandy incline supporting shore pines and invasive Scots broom. At the junction that begins the loop part of the hike, go right.

Hike above Tahkenitch Creek where it cuts through high dunes. A spur leads right to the creek itself. This is where you can ford the creek to reach the Oregon Dunes Loop Hike near the Tahkenitch Creek Overlook; the ford is your shortest route to the beach if that is your destination. To continue on the loop, however, keep hiking the main trail, looping up over another forested dune. At a bend in the trail, you can see Tahkenitch Creek flowing through the sedgy deflation plain. Keep right at a junction for a shorter loop, and follow a shallow depression shaded by contorted shore pines. The trail makes a sharp left at a map sign to reach the Tahkenitch Creek-Beach Trail Junction. If you go right, it’s about 1 ¾ miles to the beach and mouth of Tahkenitch Creek from here (no dogs permitted on this trail or at the beach because of snowy plover nesting).

Keep left to close the loop, and hike through a more open area of dune hummocks colonized by Scots broom. There are a few seasonal pools in this area. Traverse the slope of a tree island, and enter shore pine woods to pass the east junction of the shorter loop. Keep right here and close the loop at the next junction. It’s about one-third of a mile back to your vehicle at the trailhead.