The Bayocean Spit is a wonderfully eclectic stretch of dunes, trees, and understory that is a sand-based dividing line between the Tillamook Bay and the Pacific Ocean. In the early 1900s it was where a wide-eyed developer envisioned the “Atlantic City of the West.” Those plans were ill-fated, however, and as the spit recessed and reformed, many of the buildings that were constructed near the shore were claimed by the sea or rendered unsafe.
In 1954 the spit washed out and became an island, and in 1960 the last remaining home was destroyed. Today very little remains of the former town. But the spit has reformed, and if you’re in the market for a surprisingly diverse, customizable coast hike that’s easy on elevation gain, this is it.
A 7.8 mile loop will take you around the whole thing, but there are plenty of shorter options. Thanks to a number of marked trails that cut across the spit from the gravel road of the bay side over to the beach, you can easily extend or pull the chute on your outing rather easily based on how your contingent is feeling.
Starting up the gravel road from the parking area, enjoy the view across the bay into Tillamook and Garibaldi. The road soon enters the trees and the path winds and ascends briefly before meeting the bay again. The character of the walk changes numerous times as you pass by shore pine, spruce, and alder trees beset by salal, sword fern and Scots broom. You’ll walk by a handful of marked trails leading across the spit before reaching the jetty and crossing over to the beach side.
Now enjoy a wide open walk down the beach with views of Cape Meares off in the distance. To return to the parking area, look for a yellow sign with the number 29 on it and follow that path through the dunes and back to the car.
Before committing to the full loop, bear in mind that the walk back through sand will require more energy than the saunter along a gravel road. Also note that if you decide to do the loop in a clockwise fashion taking on the beach first, the marked trails that cross the spit are more difficult to locate from the beach side.
However, it’s worth the trek, no matter how long or where you hike. Bayocean is one of those places the locals love, and with good reason. It’s a place to experience the wonder of Oregon’s Tillamook Coast. Like them, you’ll want to return again and again.