South Beach trails offer an alternative

Above, The Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail, located on the grounds of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in South Beach, offers a wide, paved trail along the water. A nice walk, it is also a spot known to be good for bird watching. Right, Interpretive signs along the Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail offer information about wildlife found in the estuary. Jack and Maggie Kolk, from Benecia, Calif., on their first ever RV trip, are pictured after walking the Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail on Monday afternoon on their way to Whidbey Island, Wash. (Photos by Cheri Brubaker)

Estuary trail a great place for bird watching

SOUTH BEACH — While the playground and the disc golf course at Wilder Twin Park in South Beach were closed on Monday afternoon, blocking access to the wooded trails, the wide, paved pathway along 40th street continues to offer an opportunity to walk, or, as the case was on Monday afternoon, for a young girl to push her even younger sister on a tricycle as their mom walked the dog. The girls’ mother said they were walking much more before the fires.

Because of extreme fire danger and hazards due to fallen trees, the Siuslaw National Forest resorted to closing the forest completely. Many state parks, too, are closed or offer limited services — Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department is recommending that visitors verify access and services available.

While it is important to consider air quality before exercising, and for some, even before leaving home, exercise remains as important as ever as so many aspects of life have been disrupted, first by the pandemic and now by the fires. Young children, especially, may need to get outside to release energy. 

Another wide, moderate and easily accessed trail is the Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail, located between Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center. Note, however, that no dogs are allowed on this trail.

Jack and Maggie Kolk, from Benecia, Calif., stumbled upon the estuary trail early Monday afternoon when they found the Hatfield Marine Science Center closed. Maggie related the couple was on their first ever RV trip, headed to Whidbey Island, Wash.

“As we walked along, we found the trail,” Jack told the News-Times. 

“It goes all along the coast line. Some of it is asphalt, and some of it is sand,” Maggie said of the approximately half-mile path along the water. “But you just keep going until you get to the science center.”

Jack elaborated, “There are beautiful ecological signs set up that explain the different birds, fish, underwater life, crabs, crustaceans, blood worms — and then the different types of animal life, depending on the part of the estuary.” The trail is nicely marked with good information, he said.

“Estuaries are, in a very real sense, the cradle of life for many coastal organisms, from shellfish to shorebirds,” the Oregon Coast Aquarium explains on its website at aquarium.org. “The Yaquina Bay Estuary, located in the heart of Newport, is one of the largest and most important estuaries in Oregon, ranking second statewide as a breeding ground and critical habitat for waterfowl and migratory shorebirds.”

Dave Ledder, of Yachats, was at the trailhead photographing a courting pair of kingfishers, he explained.

 “There have been a few really nice, rare bird sightings,” Ledder said. An elegant tern was spotted nearby — a very rare sighting as that bird usually seen much farther south in Mexico.

“A lot of times, around here, when there are rare bird sightings, they’re right near the trail right here,” he noted. Ledder hadn’t yet spotted the elegant tern, but he did see some Casbian terns.

“It’s a very nice, quiet place to come look at birds,” Ledder said of the estuary. Though not far from the Yaquina Bay Bridge, the traffic on Highway 101 and all the usual activity around the aquarium and the science center, the estuary was teeming with birds on Monday afternoon.

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Above, The Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail, located on the grounds of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in South Beach, offers a wide, paved trail along the water. A nice walk, it is also a spot known to be good for bird watching. Right, Interpretive signs along the Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail offer information about wildlife found in the estuary. Jack and Maggie Kolk, from Benecia, Calif., on their first ever RV trip, are pictured after walking the Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail on Monday afternoon on their way to Whidbey Island, Wash. (Photos by Cheri Brubaker)


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