Spruce Island Trail is just beyond the Secret Beach turnout (which is easy to miss) when heading north. If you reach Spruce Island, turn around and head south. Slip behind the north end of the guardrail where the blacktop slopes into a small dirt parking area. The hike down only takes five minutes.
I now dub this beach Gossip Beach, because it is not a secret. There were at least 20 people within the two to three hours I spent there, not counting my group. I went with my cousin's two children and their mother, plus my niece, mom and Jessica. It was my birthday. What a fantastic, gorgeous day it was. I am blessed to have such wonderful family and abundant natural settings to make it so!
Secret Beach has two waterfalls (maybe more during the wet season) and multiple tunnels through rocks. Go spelunking. It makes you feel like you're in the Goonies. "Heeey you guuuuuuuys!"
Thunder Rock Cove is at the far south end of the beach. The "tunnel" under Thunder Rock is more of an archway, which visually reminded me of my trip to Utah two winters past. Spiritually it reminded me of a cathedral I visited in England when I was 22.
I stepped into the nave of the cathedral and looked up at the massive vaulted ceilings; my eyes followed the lines downward to row upon row of stained glass lit by the late afternoon sun. My breath shuddered in my chest. Tears passed freely down my face. I was captivated. Spellbound by beauty, the depth of which I had never experienced. I felt a similar feeling staring up at the mass of earth above my head at Thunder Rock Cove. A feeling of mortality. Finiteness.
The trip to the end of Secret Beach is time well spent. You won't be disappointed.
Tackling the climb
When you get done playing and exploring, if you still have energy to burn on your way back up the trail, take the first fork on the left.
A good 25-35 minute hike with plenty of uphill climbs awaits along the way to Spruce Island. You'll know you're on the right path because there are two switchbacks right away, followed by about 10 minutes of uphill climb. Hit this trail if you're looking for a good workout. Be warned.
At the top of the climb, the trail levels out for about five minutes. Cross over a footbridge, then along the highway before banking left and sloping downhill. A welcome descent. A couple of switchbacks later you will arrive at the point.
If you step off the main path and walk north along the cliffs they form a shelf, the view from which, of Spruce Island to the north, is amazing.
My brother, Quinn, and I crept along the edge of the brittle cliffs. The Spruce trees living on the side are stiff and threaten to shove you off the edge. I'm not recommending you go that direction. It's dangerously awesome, but it makes you feel alive.
Leaving the cliffs behind, the trail climbs toward the highway. Around half way up, the trees recede, making a perfect view of Spruce Island and a nice spot to rest. No cliff-walking necessary. If you don't stop, it's about 10 minutes uphill.
The Spruce Island Viewpoint is at the top, marked by a large sign.
The trailhead marker lies just north. Either turn around and hike the trail back, or walk south for three minutes on the highway.
Make it memorable
I wish to leave you with some thoughts on a theory I read about on how memory is recorded. Visualize your brain's mechanism for making memories as a computer printer adding layer after layer of color (memories). When forming new memories, the ink ribbon moves slowly, carefully making sure nothing is missed. The colors are vibrant. Beautiful.
When we perform repetitive ritual and habitual actions, the ink ribbon is passing very quickly over the same lines. We can become less present. The color runs together. Dull.
Seeing new and beautiful scenery, allowing each new day to be fresh and wondrous as children do, allows us to form more vibrant and abundant memories. After all, our sense of self is based on memories of our experiences, is it not? Enrich your self.
Take the time to see the natural world around you. If nothing else, it may help you create vivid memories, thereby manifesting the illusion in your mind that you spent more time on earth. Live a little more. Make it a memorable journey.
Don't forget your water, snack and jacket.