By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
After the rather lengthy hike from House Rock to Whaleshead Beach, the next section of the Oregon Coast Trail is a short, scenic jaunt around Whaleshead Loop.
From the Whaleshead Beach picnic area, hikers can continue the trail from behind the restroom and head a brief distance uphill to the entrance of Whaleshead Beach.
Hikers can also skip the extra five-minute walk and park in the wide spot at the entrance near Highway 101 and start the trail from there.
The needle-covered path immediately starts up the fairly steep hill.
After a few minutes' climb, the trail levels out and culminates in a spectacular view overlooking Whaleshead Beach.
There is even a wooden bench at the top to stop, rest and enjoy the scenery.
The trail begins to round the big hill and heads north under tree cover.
It continues to flow up and down small hills, winding its way around the point and back toward the highway.
Views from behind the trees extend out over beautiful views of rugged coastline.
The short hike, which is less than a mile long, only takes about 20 minutes to complete.
For a quick route back to the car, hikers can avoid going back the way they came and instead, follow the highway a mere 400 or so paces back to the entrance of Whaleshead Beach.
Unlike many of the previous trails, the Whaleshead Loop section of the Oregon Coast Trail has a well-defined trail that is clear of most underbrush.
But be sure to stick to the immediate trail because poison oak does dot the edges of the trail.
For those who are familiar with poison oak, it is fairly easy to spot and avoid.
But for newcomers, not knowing what poison oak looks like can result in an itchy and irritating annoyance.
Poison oak is most easily identifiable by its three leaf clusters with their rounded edges.
Also, during some of the hotter summer months, poison oak can take on a red hue, which makes it very easy to spot and avoid.
Huckleberries also show up frequently along this section of trail, although the majority of the berries won't be ripe for picking for another three to four weeks.