Ample helpings of natural beauty and human history run up and down the Tillamook coast. And the Netarts Spit is a prime example of a place that lays claim to both. In the native language of the Tillamook tribe, “Ne ta at”, loosely translates to “near the water.” A very fitting description for the area that would later adopt a morphed version of the phrase for a name – Netarts. The Netarts spit is a roughly 5-mile long stretch of sand and vegetation that helps form the Netarts Bay. Dating back to the early 1400’s, the earliest known Tillamook settlement in the county was in the Netarts area. And the best known area of occupation was the Netarts Spit.
Now a part of Cape Lookout State Park, the spit offers great views of the bay, the town of Netarts, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s also a great place to hike. The beach along the ocean-side of the spit is laden with sand dollars, though finding one intact can be a challenge. And the stands of Sitka spruce, shore pine, and willow form an oasis of flora in the middle of the spit.
A 10-mile round trip hike along the narrow spit is best done at low tide, and leaves from the day use area near the park’s campground. Trails abound from the camping area towards the beach. The best access points having warning signs that detail every worst case scenario under the sun. If the tide is low strolling the beach is easy. Alternatively, a network of trails and game paths weave through the middle of the spit. The views get better the farther you walk, with Netarts and the Three Arch Rocks looming close at the end of the spit. Return the way you came and with any luck you’ll arrive back at the car with some great photos and a sand dollar or two.