The Tillamook Coast is spectacular no matter what the season, but winter is the only time you are likely to glimpse the Neskowin Ghost Forest. The petrified remains of roughly 100 Sitka spruce trees are more than 2,000 years old and only visible during the lowest December, January and February tides.
Before the late 1990s, the stumps were mere local legend, with longtime south Tillamook County residents saying they only emerged once every several decades, and then only briefly. However, since the winter of 1998, the barnacle-encrusted Ghost Forest has reliably returned year after year.
In their prime, the trees would have been enormous, towering 150 to 200 feet tall. Experts say the spruces were initially buried as a result of a massive earthquake plunging higher ground to below sea level. A subsequent tsunami most likely then enveloped the trees in sand.
Despite the allure of the ancient forest, Neskowin is worth visiting in its own right. The unincorporated village of 179 year-round residents is concentrated at the beach near Proposal Rock and Hawk Creek. An artists’ community, it is located mere miles from the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Along with two golf courses, Neskowin is home to the Café on Hawk Creek and the Neskowin Trading Company general store.
Before planning a trip to visit the Neskowin Ghost Forest, check local tides. Meanwhile, watch this video to see ocean waves churn over and between the petrified stumps.
By LeeAnn Neal
Photo by Wolfram Burner