Being only 14 miles away, Heceta Head Lighthouse is the closest to my residence of coastal Oregon’s nine public lighthouses. The other eight sentinels each have their own 100 Steps page. Lighthouses just beyond Oregon’s borders are also referenced: Cape Disappointment on the north side of the Columbia, St. George Reef and Battery Point lighthouses just south of the California border. But Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint has been absent from the mix. Now I can now tick that final checkbox of Oregon coast lighthouses.
I do have a partial excuse for the late inclusion: during the timeframe I would have visited, Heceta Head Lighthouse was encased in a cone of construction garb as part of a nearly two-year restoration effort. Since scaffolding kinda blows the pics, I intentionally delayed. Once complete though, my only justification is that I knew I could not see up-close the highlight of the area. Oregon State Park literature tags it at a half-mile walk to the lighthouse, with a 150-foot elevation gain, which is well beyond my physical endurance.
During a recent camping trip not far from Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint, my husband and I finally visited this state park. While Heceta Head Lighthouse is certainly the star of the area, I found Cape Creek Bridge and the nearby ocean worthy compensation for my inability to reach the tower.
Be aware: If you’re looking to create your own version of a shot you’ve seen in a magazine or calendar, Heceta Head Lighthouse regally perched on a craggy cliff above sapphire seas, this is not the place. Try the Sea Lion Caves instead or one of the roadside turnouts just to their north (which is where the image at the top of this page was captured).
Check out the Oregon Coast Lighthouse Roundup.
Cape Creek Bridge
Although I’ve driven over it many times, it never occurred to me that a highlight of Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint is the bridge at the south end of the beach. Just north of the Highway 101 tunnel, one of Conde B. McCullough’s coastal masterpieces, Cape Creek Bridge is a massive concrete structure of double-decker arches spanning a mere trickle.
An informative sign on the walk to Cape Creek Bridge explains its construction and includes historical photos. Given that the walk to Heceta Head Lighthouse is too far and the ample amount of rocks on the nearby beach, the nice level sidewalk heading toward this bridge was a welcome find. If you’re a bridge fan, Cape Creek Bridge warrants a special stop.
From the parking area at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint, you can access the beach via one of several paths cut through the sand or beach grass. All have a mild decline to the shore, and the distance is not far by Oregon beach standards. The most manageable path is in the middle of the parking lot, across the sidewalk from the two handicapped parking spaces.
Unfortunately, regardless the route, much of the trek is in rocky sand. These are not pebbles, but lime- and lemon-sized ankle twisters, with some approaching the girth of an orange, and the occasional grapefruit thrown in. This assortment of obstacles ends at a continual swath of these tumbled stones, which must be crossed before friendly sand is reached. Once across though, you’re over halfway to the water at all but the lowest tide levels.
See Beach Roundup: Between Florence and Yachats for a summary of beaches in the area.
If you find the beach terrain daunting, but you’re ready to soak in the mystique of the area, you can view the ocean and the cove’s rock formations from one of the picnic tables at the north end of the parking lot. The illustrious light beacon is mostly hidden behind trees, but the Heceta Head lightkeepers’ house now serving as a bed and breakfast is well in view on the nearby hillside.