Pacific City is perhaps best known for a little chunk of oceanfront known as Cape Kiwanda. And while the oft-photographed sandstone bluff is a justifiable headliner, the Nestucca Spit offers similar coastal allure without the penance of crowds. Located about a mile and a half south of Cape Kiwanda, the peaceful, wildlife-laden Nestucca Spit resides within the Bob Straub State Park. A roughly 5 mile loop hike shows off the spit’s numerous virtues.
This scenic saunter almost never was, however. Back in the 1960’s a battle over the area was waged between the Department of Transportation and the State Treasurer. The Department of Transportation thought that Highway 101 should head down the middle of the spit and across the mouth of the Nestucca Bay. The State Treasurer, Bob Straub thought differently, and eventually got his way seeing the Highway swerve inland instead. Apparently his stance was a popular one as he was later elected Governor.
To hike the spit, leave from the Bob Straub State Park Trailhead and walk across the dunes towards the ocean. Off to your right take in views of Haystack Rock and Cape Kiwanda. If you’re up for an extended day hike, you can head north and explore the cape before returning to tour the spit. But for now, head south along the shore, which is recommended during low tide. The stroll is great for families and dogs are welcome on leash. Sand dollars are common along this stretch, though finding a completely intact specimen, as always, can be a challenge.
At the spit’s end look for harbor seals and fishermen taking advantage of the Nestucca River’s legendary salmon and steelhead runs. Round the end of the spit and begin the journey back to the trailhead. As is the case with other area spit hikes, things become a bit of a choose your own adventure at this point. You can continue along the sand, for a little ways at least, before encountering a number of paths that lead into the heart of the spit. The forested inland section of the spit ranges from wetlands to moss-covered Sitka spruce corridors. You’ll encounter a number of junctions that provide the opportunity for extra mileage and further exploration, but as long as you continue in a northerly direction, you’ll likely funnel back towards the parking area and the trailhead.