|Sisters Rock: Discover little-known coastal gem|
|Written by Bill Schlichting, Pilot staff writer|
|January 07, 2012 05:30 am|
Between the Euchre Creek and Prehistoric Gardens, 13 miles north of Gold Beach, travelers are likely to see a headland with two monumental rocks connected to the mainland.
A third rock, surrounded by pounding surf, stands nearby. These three monoliths are known as Sisters Rocks. The land is known as Sisters Rocks State Park, an obscure park marked with an Oregon State Park shield along Highway 101. There is no mention that the park has a name.
Sisters Rocks State Park is a place of discovery. Access is provided either by a pullout along the highway and finding an Oregon Coast Trail marker, or finding a gated road.
One bright sunny day, I parked in the pullout and hiked the trail, which took me to the road. I continued down the road toward the rocks. Near the ocean, the road forks, offering a choice of three directions to explore. With an afternoon to kill, I followed all of them.
The road to the right leads to a flat plain, where there are spectacular views of Humbug Mountain, one of Oregon’s highest headlands.
Research on the Web indicates that this plain was the site of a rock quarry, which was abandoned because of the poor quality of the stone.
Also, what appears to be a crater on the side of the North Sister is actually a sea cave. A hiker will hear the surf echoing inside the cave before actually seeing the cave. I stood at the entrance to the cave and watched as the ocean pounded in the near darkness.
Walking along a flat between the rocks, the back entrance to the cave is barely visible. It’s tempting to jump onto smaller rocks that jut into the ocean to get a better view, but the splashing surf is also an indication of danger. Don’t attempt to get a view at this point. There is a better spot.
Hiking back to the split in the road, I followed the middle branch, which ends abruptly on the side of the South Sister. At the end of the trail is a spectacular view of the rear entrance to the cave. There are actually two entrances.
Back to the forks, I hiked to the south portion of the park which provides a sandy beach and clear evidence that there was once civilization. Rusted steel is everywhere, including faint remains of a pier.
This is the location of the town of Frankport, a gold-mining community that existed in the 1850s. The monumental Sisters Rocks form a natural breakwater, making a small, natural harbor. The beach is a great place to kick off your shoes and walk along the gentle surf. The cliffs also create a windbreak. A sunny day will make this a warmer-than-usual beach.
Sisters Rocks State Parks is a little-known gem of America’s Wild Rivers Coast. It’s an awesome place to spend an afternoon exploring.