From wide-open ocean beaches to swimming
holes nestled deep in
the woods, Coos County offers more than 30 parks, boat ramps,
and picnic areas for year-round use. Add these with other facilities
by the state park system, US Forest Service, and theBureau of Land
(BLM), and you’ve got an impressive array of recreational
in a remarkably diverse region.
You can pursue a busy slate of outdoor adventure
fishing, crabbing or clamming, to boating, hiking or swimming, or set a
more leisurely pace and just enjoy the sights. Stop in a shady wayside
grove of aromatic myrtle trees, watch the action at a fishing pier in
picturesque town of Charleston, or visit a historic covered bridge. If
it’s too windy along the seashore, just head inland a few
miles – it’s
a nice summer day again!
Some of the sites are popular, with campgrounds
up fast on weekends and holidays. Other places see few visitors, and
are many overlooked, little-visited places. So whether you enjoy
or really want to get away from it all, you’ve come to the
Now pick a park . . .
LaVerne County Park
Among the jewels is LaVerne Park,
about 15 miles east of
Coquille. Set amidst diverse woodlands along the North Fork of the
River, there are actually two parks here. West LaVerne Park has group
and day-use, the main park family camping, RV hookups and day-use. In
main park is a popular wading and swimming hole complete with a sandy
The river is low this year due to less-than normal
but there’s still enough water for some fun splashing-around.
to bring along an inner tube or floatation device for some fun
There are playgrounds, a softball field and
pits, along with group picnic pavilions and barbeque areas. Other
of the park offer shady picnic places under the towering maples, oaks,
myrtles and evergreens, and there are quiet stretches of the river for
fishing. Perhaps best of all, day-use is free at LaVerne Park, as it is
at every Coos County park.
Powers County Park
Another top destination
is Powers County Park, in
the Coast Range mountains about 20 miles southeast of Myrtle Point.
of the park is on the site of an early-day sawmill. Foundations from
of the buildings have become part of the children’s play
area, while the
former log pond is now a 40-acre recreational lake. The
with legal-sized trout in the spring, and is open for fishing
Summer months also see fishing for largemouth bass, brown bullhead and
crappie. There’s a boat ramp for non-motorized boats, and
splashing in the water along the grassy banks.
There are campsites with (and without) water and
hookups, and group picnic pavilions. In addition to the
area, there are horseshoe pits, and courts for tennis, basketball and
If you like delving into local history, the town’s cemetery
is on a hillside
just south of the park, while in the town of Powers you can view Wagner
House, a restored pioneer-era cabin said to be one of
region’s oldest dwellings.
Cherry Creek and Frona County Parks
Smaller county parks in the
vicinity of the Coquille Valley
include Ham Bunch-Cherry Creek Park and Frona Park. Both are situated
historic Coos Bay Wagon Road near the community of Dora, and both are
in impressive groves of myrtles and big-leaf maples. The trees create
green grottos of cool relief on a hot summer day, and the sound of
water (coming from Cherry Creek and the East Fork of the Coquille
respectively) adds to the soothing atmosphere.
Both have picnicking and primitive camping. Frona
has some classic old playground equipment salvaged from the Dora
including a tall slide that’s been rounded and smoothed by
many years of
Bastendorff Beach County Park
To many, the main draw of the
Oregon Coast is the beach.
Before we head out, let’s have a quick look at the weather.
the wind. If you’re here in summer, you can pretty much count
on a persistent
north wind kicking in most afternoons along the seashore.
It’s not much
fun out there in the wind! Mornings – if they’re
not socked in by fog,
another common summer phenomenon – can be best for wandering
So let’s go!
It doesn’t get much better than
Bastendorff Beach, about
15 miles west of Coos Bay. On a bluff above the beach are 25 non-hookup
campsites and 56 campsites with electric and water hookups.
and private, many surrounded by tall hedges of native salal and Oregon
grape, and each with its own picnic table and fireplace.
The large day-use area provides picnic tables,
for softball and volleyball, a big fire pit, horseshoe pits, basketball
court and a fantastic playground area with swings, slides,
merry-go-round, spring-mounted “bouncing animals”
and perhaps best of all,
a big wooden fort!
Just down the hill from the campground and
by a loop road is Bastendorff Beach, a 2-mile long wide, flat expanse
sand that invites long walks, lazy sunbathing, or such important
as kite-flying and sand castle building. There are tidepools along the
rocks at the south end.
Or walk the other way to the jetty of the Coos Bay
entrance, where waves pound on the rocks, sending up plumes of water.
might spot surfers trying their luck in the waves near the jetty.
The beach offers surfcasting for perch and other
while the jetty is a popular place for rock fishing. (But always be
of the waves!) There are also state park beaches, a botanical garden,
areas and campgrounds in the vicinity of Bastendorff Beach and Cape
On the subject of seafood, the tidal flats and
around the Coos Bay estuary support five major species of bay clams,
gapers (which locals refer to as Empires), along with cockles, Little
Butter and soft shell. Rocks along the ocean yield mussels, but be
for late-summer closures of ocean shellfish harvesting due to
To harvest clams, all you need are some rubber
a bucket and a shovel – and low tide. Ttidebooks are
available in most
local stores and shops, and local papers also print print tide charts.
The tideflats around the Charleston bridge are among popular places for
clamdiggers. You can clam year-round.
The bays of the Coos and Coquille rivers are also
year-round for crabbing, which can be done from a boat or from the many
public docks and fishing piers. The docks in the fishing community of
are also open for crabbing, and you can rent gear at a number of
The county has a public fishing pier in Charleston, near the bridge and
visitor information center. A yearly fishing license is required for all bay,
ocean, lake and river fishing; a separate shellfish license is
required to harvest clams, crabs and mussels.
The county technically operates
only a couple of beach
areas in Bandon, but include these with five state park beaches and
got a lot of potential beachcoming. Start a tour at the county-run
Jetty Beach, accessed by a road leading from Old Town. The road follows
the river, passing many historic buildings, including a 1930s-era Coast
Guard building now used as Port of Bandon offices. It’s just
channel from Bandon’s historic lighthouse, long
decommissioned in favor
of a smaller, automated light on the side of the river.
The other beach accesses are reached from Beach
Follow the signs from Old Town, or take 11th St. off US 101 and follow
it to Beach Loop Drive. Just west of the intersection of 11th and Beach
Loop is Coquille Point and county-run Kronenberg Beach. There are paths
with interpretive signs along the headlands, as well as an ornate
staircase down to the beach. And what a beach! This has to be one of
most spectacular on the Oregon Coast, with offshore islands -- called
– lunging out of the sea at dramatic angles. Other islands
are home to
thousands of seabirds, which wheel and soar overhead.
Continue south along Beach Loop to four more state
beaches, with the road eventually leading back to US 101 about two
south of downtown Bandon.
Bullards, Whiskey Run and Seven Devils Beaches
Just north of Bandon are even more
beaches. Head up US
101 and cross the bridge over Coquille River. A few hundred feet beyond
is Bullards Beach State Park, with campgrounds, picnic areas, boat
hiking and equestrian trails, a historic lighthouse – and oh
yes, a long
Keep going up US 101 about 2.2 miles beyond the
to Seven Devils Road, and follow signs to Whisky Run Beach and Seven
State Park. Vehicles are permitted on Whiskey Run Beach, while at Seven
Devils, it’s strictly for hikers.
Ten Mile Lakes County Park
The north end of Coos County is
called “dunes country”
for its proximity to the world-famous Oregon Dunes. The dunes begin on
the north side of Coos Bay and extend about 40 miles north to Florence.
Much of the land – actually a mix of open sand and dense
– is administered by the US Forest Service as the Oregon
Recreation Area. There are dozens of beach accesses,
(ATV) riding areas, campgrounds and day-use areas, as well as trails
hikers, bikers and equestrians.
It’s not all sand and thick woods,
either. There’s water
everywhere! Many small, seasonal lakes are created out in the open
during the rainy season. Here also are some of Oregon’s
lakes, many in forested settings that might make you think
you’re up in
Such is the case with Ten Mile Lakes, among the
top recreational lakes and one of the largest in dunes country.
two lakes, connected by a short channel, and is a longtime favorite
anglers, boaters, waterskiers and those who enjoy personal watercraft.
Many homes -- some accessible only by boat -- ring the lakes, and
even an island with a few residences.
There are full services in the community of
and the county boat ramp is a busy place on summer weekends. The
county park has a sandy beach for wading and swimming, as well as shady
picnic areas on a cool expanse of lawn.
Just north of Lakeside is William Tugman State
Eel Lake, another large, freshwater lake in a woodsy setting. There
any homes or development along its shores or on the upland slopes, and
there’s a speed limit for boats, so the setting here is more
nearby Ten Mile Lakes.
Closer to the Coos Bay/North Bend area you can
Saunders Lake, where you’ll find Saunders Lake County Park
The rivers that feed Coos Bay, as
well as the Coquille
River, have always been an important part of life along the southern
coast. The waterways served as early-day “highways”
for a variety of riverboats
and other vessels, as well as for rafts of logs that were floated down
from the hills to sawmills. These days, most of the traffic is
– with an emphasis on fishing.
Whether you’re here in the spring,
summer or fall, it
seems there’s always something running – from
steelhead and salmon, to
perch, stripers or shad.
Coos County operates a number of boat ramps on
systems, including Rooke-Higgens Park along the Millicoma River, which
also includes a primitive campground. Farther up the Millicoma River is
Nesika Park, with a day-use area in a grove of tall mrytles and a
There are other boat ramps along the Coos River,
around Coos Bay operated by the cities and other agencies.
Boat ramps along the Coquille River start right in
Town Bandon, and continue at intervals nearly 40 miles up the river to
Myrtle Point. Other popular launches can be found at Bullards Beach
Park, Rocky Point County Boat Ramp, Riverton County Boat Ramp, Coquille
City Boat Ramp and Arago Boat Ramp.
Sandy Creek Covered Bridge . . .
and much more
Among the unique destinations in
the Coos County Parks
system is the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge in the community of Remote.
let the name mislead you – Remote is actually situated along
the region’s main east-west route. The restored bridge makes
stop along the way, or an unusual destination for a picnic. There are
picnic tables on the bridge -- under the covered roof -- making it a
getaway on a hot summer day.
These are among the highlights of the
Coos County Parks system, but your wanderings will undoubtedly take you
past some of the smaller waysides and parks as well.
The best way to explore is to get the official
Parks brochure at any local visitors information centers, Chamber of
office or at the Coos County Parks office in Coquille. Their number is
(541) 396-3121 ext. 354.
Information provided by Westways Press:
out more about the Southern
Oregon Coast in Westways Press Guide Books