Rustic margarita pizza. Crab-encrusted halibut. Homemade ice cream. You name it – during the six days we spent in Florence, Oregon – we ate it! So, getting some exercise was as necessary for us as it was for Buster, our overly energetic German Shepherd. Fortunately, three interesting and completely distinct environments are just a day trip away.
Thirty-two miles south of Florence is the town of Lakeside and the Eel Creek Campground – a great place to appreciate the Oregon Dunes. Winds from the ocean created this unique landscape where the rocky cliffs give way to a 40 mile stretch of lowland. Purchase a day pass at the kiosk for $5 and park your car at the trailhead. Three miles of tough hiking will put you at the ocean – but just a half mile down the path you’ll find dunes hundreds of feet high. It’s hard to believe you’re in Oregon!
The coast certainly has a draw, but it would be criminal to miss Sweet Creek Trail. Just 25 miles inland from Florence, in the Siuslaw National Forest, this easy 2.2 mile round trip winds though moss-covered Douglas-fir and Big Leaf Maple trees, over catwalks, and past eleven waterfalls.
Back on the coast, and 23 miles north of Florence, is Cape Perpetua – where you can still see the ancient lava flows that formed this area. With 26 miles of trails, you’re sure to find something that suits you. Depending on the tides, waves crashing into a long crack in the rock known as Devil’s Churn are spectacular. The 600-year old Giant Sitka Spruce and Spouting Horn, a kind of natural fountain driven by the the sea, are also a popular. If you’re looking for the best view, climb nearly 800 feet to the overlook, where on a clear day you can see 70 miles of Oregon coastline!
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