On the Oregon Coast there are lots of trails and I mean lots of trails. But finding one that is longer than a mile or two can be challenging. So when I find one, I tend to visit it often and the Eel Lake Trail at Tugman State Park is one that I do enjoy.
Last March Bailey and I jumped in the car and headed up to Tugman State Park to hike the Eel Lake Trail and see what we could see. The trail is in-and-out and is about 6 miles in total. I keep hearing that the trail will be finished soon, but I’ve been hearing that for years, someday hopefully!
The trail rating is “Moderate” and I think that is fairly accurate for most of the way since the main trail is well maintained and clear. The end of the trail is a different story, some will want to explore further and some will turn around and head back at that point.
Since it was spring we saw beautiful flowers, fungus, speedy snails, bugs of all sorts and heard lots of birds chirping and singing away.
The end of the trail is interesting, with the winter storm damage not yet cleared away and the trail starting to end, it gets pretty rough. Large trees down over the trail which adds a small amount of climbing into the hike. I found it fun, Bailey thought it was a blast!
For most of the hike he was on a leash since there were other hikers on the trail but as it got rougher and my scrambling over things increased I needed both my hands, so off it came and away he went. As you can see from the photo below he was running, jumping, tiring himself out and having a ball. He would run fast down the trail over boulders, under trees and then run back to see what was taking me so long.
He is an excellent trail dog – there were a couple of times at the end where the trail began to disappear and he could find his way and take me to a spot where the trail was identifiable again. Good boy! I need to find a way to do selfies on these trips – need evidence that it was actually me and not just Bailey LOL. The stand-by iPhone selfie doesn’t always work and Bailey is camera-shy when it’s pointed directly at him.
Once you reach the end, it is time to turn around and come back, still peaceful and with more things to see – things you probably missed on the way in.
By the time we got back to the car, it was late enough in the day that I thought we could stop at the Umpqua River Lighthouse. It sits above the dune landscape in Winchester Bay and the sunsets can be pretty spectacular. You need to get there early because the parking lot tends to fill up quickly. Some get out to watch and others sit in the car and enjoy the beauty without the cold wind coming in over the dunes.
You can see and hear the ATVs roaring around, their lights coming on as the sun goes down, spreading beautiful color. This is a HUGE recreational destination for ATVers. (And you know I love sunrises & sunsets!!)
If you go, don’t forget to turn around and watch one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the Oregon Coast (at least I think so…).
The light that shines out from the lighthouse on a clear night is pretty cool and as you look around you can see what appears to be a dancing light show along the ground and then sweeping out over the dunes.
By this time I think Bailey was wiped out and sacked out on the backseat of the car. I tuckered him out :), all-in-all it was a great day.
If you have visited Eel Lake, Tugman State Park or the Umpqua Lighthouse what was your favorite memory?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer, and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her dogs. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books, and now with the Selah Journal: A reflective journal and mini-retreat. Start your own daily gratitude practice with our, “7 Days of Gratitude Challenge – A Gratitude Journal Starter Kit”.