Nestled between Whaleshead and Thomas Creek Bridge sits Indian Sands Trail, a challenging and unique hiking trail featuring elevated dunes and desert-like terrain nearly unseen in the rest of Curry County.
Whether you want a challenging nature hike, some new stones for your collection or just to watch the water crash against the cliffside, Indian Sands has a little something for everyone.
After a hike through the brush, Indian Sands opens up into a unique vista of sandstone formations and sloping dunes along the cliffside while fields of wildflowers and wild succulents spread over the cliffsides and bloom in rocky crags. Pollinators stay busy in the summer months as fuzzy bumble bees, ghost-white leafcutter bees, monarch butterflies, and more glide from flower to flower. An arched rock formation can be seen on the southern end of the trail, as wave crash against it and other formations violently and spraying far into the air before draining off.
The mile-long trail is not for the faint of heart though, opening with steep declines on trails both north and south of the viewpoint. The southern trail is the most straightforward and marked, while the northern trail is less maintained and treacherous due to slides of pine needles and a few sinkholes.
While the southern trail has a more clearly marked path on the first stretch, both are notably hard to navigate, with the official trail mostly unmarked and unofficial trails from both hikers and animals creating a maze through the brush.
The steep and rugged terrain is inconsistent throughout, so be sure to pack water and be ready to take a few breaks during a visit lest you exhaust yourself early on. The steep incline back up to the viewing area from the southern trail is particularly tiring, especially after spending time exploring the bottom.
The most approachable route is to take the southern trail down the slope and head through the brush to the dunes until you come across the open area with a view out into the ocean.
The dunes have several large, flat stretches littered with shards of sandstone and shale. A keen eye can find interesting stones or even fossils littered among the debris. Sandy bluffs and formation are spread throughout, though many end up with words carved into them each season from visitors. Use discretion when deciding whether or not to follow any trail and consider marking your path or making mental notes on your way down to avoid getting lost.
It’s important to be very cautious near the cliffsides, as the slopes are steep and all lead directly into the ocean. What may look like a well-traveled path on the side of the cliff could have been made by an animal and may not be suitable for human to travel. Give the sandy cliffsides a wide beath, as well as the areas rich in vegetation, as the long snakelike grasses can easily tangle your feet. Given its nature, the trail is not recommended for children or pets.
Many deaths have been reported at Indian Sands over the years, with the m most recent being a body being found on the cliffs earlier this year and a man being swept out to sea in 2018.
While not explicitly listed as one of its sites, Indian Sands is part of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. You can learn more about the Scenic Corridor at https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=56. class="Apple-converted-space">
Indian Sands is also known to have some archeological importance, with a survey by Oregon State in 2002 finding evidence of human activity from more than 10,000 years ago, predating any other find on the Oregon Coast.
You can find the trail roughly 6.5 miles north of Brookings, just before Thomas Creek Bridge. The turnout is clearly marked but can sometimes be missed when approaching from the south.