Explore nature close to home

Drift Creek, located east of Lincoln City, offers an extraordinary chance to explore nature in a Lincoln County forest. Hikers who can manage the moderately difficult hike are rewarded with spectacular views, like this one. (Photos by Jeremy Burke)

From Cascade Head north of Lincoln City, to Cape Perpetua south of Yachats, Lincoln County has a wide variety of hiking trails for people of all skill levels.

Whether it’s an easy, out-and-back hike over a short, flat distance, or a strenuous climb over challenging terrain, there are many opportunities to venture into a whole other world just a short distance from home.

One such hike can be found at Drift Creek, located east of Lincoln City. The Drift Creek Falls Trail winds through a portion of the Siuslaw National Forest. Most people would rate this hike moderate in terms of difficulty. It’s an out-and-back, three-mile round trip. Don’t be fooled by the easy descent on the way in — you’ll be working a bit harder during the 500-foot gain in elevation on the trip back out.

The well-groomed Drift Creek Falls Trail offers some excellent views of Coast Range forest. And there is a bonus once you arrive at the turnaround — a 240-foot long cable suspension bridge high above Drift Creek, overlooking the 75-foot waterfall directly below. The trail continues down to the base of the falls to give hikers a different perspective of the cascading water.

Depending on how much time is spent at the falls, it takes most people a couple of hours to complete this hike.

To get to the trailhead, take Highway 101 to Drift Creek Road (south of Lincoln City and north of Salishan, very close to milepost 119). Travel east on Drift Creek Road, turn right on South Drift Creek Road, and after about a quarter mile, turn left onto Forest Service Road 17. Stay on Forest Service Road 17 to the trailhead, approximately 10 miles. A $5 fee (or recreation pass) is required to park at the trailhead. Dogs are allowed on this trail, but they must be kept on a leash.

The Drift Creek Falls Trail may be a bit much to take on for people who are just beginning to discover the joys of hiking on the Oregon coast. But there are plenty of easier hikes to start off with that offer a flatter, shorter alternative, with equally rewarding views. Once you’re up to the challenge, however, the Drift Creek Falls Trail should be on the list of must-do hikes in this area.

Information about hiking options in Lincoln County and beyond can be found at a number of locations online. Www.oregonhikers.org and www.alltrails.com are two good websites that allow one to search for hiking trails in a given area based on length and level of difficulty.

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