By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
For one of the lengthier local sections of the Oregon Coast Trail, hikers can trek the 2 1/2-to 3-mile trail from House Rock to Whaleshead Beach.
The trail starts from the parking lot of the House Rock Viewpoint and juts into the forest almost immediately.
Most of the trail is hidden under the trees, away from the howling wind and beating sun.
A majority of the trail parallels Highway 101, with a few short spurts even coming out of the trees and following right alongside the highway.
The trail contains many switchbacks and changes in elevation as it rises and falls with the landscape.
Three small, wooden bridges mark the way along the first half of the wooded trail.
After one of the trails' short jaunts along the highway, the path heads back toward the coast and peeks out on a beautiful waterfall cascading down the face of a rock and into a creek bed below.
The sound of the waterfall resounds and drowns out the traffic long before and long after it is in view.
Nearing the end of the trail, the path briefly emerges from the trees and overlooks the ocean and the beginning of Whaleshead Beach.
The trail comes out in the parking area of Whaleshead Viewpoint.
From the parking area, it's just a short four minute trek down to the beach.
Take caution on the way down to the beach because the trail is fairly overgrown and fairly steep.
Once hikers make their way down to the beach, it's just a brief walk along the sandy coast to get to the Whaleshead Beach picnic area where picnic tables and restrooms are available.
The hike takes about 50 minutes to an hour, depending on how many photo opportunities are taken or how many detours are followed.
As a general rule, stick to the main path as often as possible because many side trails lead to dangerous areas such as steep cliffs.
Depending on the weather, long pants and long sleeves are recommended to battle some of the summer insects.
And always remember to bring plenty of drinking water for the hike.