Saturday, May 7, 2016

Blacklock Point

My last hike in the Owyhee Uplands was all about dry sagebrush and arid terrain. A week later, I'm at Blacklock Point in a veritable coastal jungle bursting with rampant and unrestrained greenery. Talk about extremes! However, the comparison to the Oregon desert is the only thing extreme about Blacklock Point. The trail is user-friendly, mostly flat, and the view north to Bandon from a clifftop perch is my favorite view in all of Oregon. So why where there only 5 of us at the trailhead on a semi-sunny morning? That's because all the stay-at-homes are slackers and that's OK because we got the better deal, enjoying a fine spring morning on the Oregon coast.

One of 1,012,058,216 rhododendrons seen on this hike

From the start at quiet Cape Blanco Airport, it was obvious this was rhododendron time at the coast. The trail was a narrow alley carved through 10 foot high bushes all flecked with pink from the showy blooms. Rhododendron petals carpeted the trail and most of the winter and early spring mud puddles that customarily swamp the trail were dried up. We only had to take a dry-footed detour around just one or two of the seasonal watering holes.
Wind, personified

The hike to Blacklock Point from the Cape Blanco Airport is short and sweet and we arrived there in short order. The cliff-edge trail sports great views of the wild coast stretching out to the Sixes River and Cape Blanco. And of course there is Blacklock Point itself, a rocky pyramid with a chain of small islands extending out into the ocean. It seems like every time I've been here, a strong chilly wind blows and today was no exception. Dave worked his way out to the top of the point while the rest of us dithered about where to eat lunch, the consensus being nobody wanted eat lunch in the frigid breeze.

It's a Richard Hike even when it's not
Rheo, who was leading this hike led us on a bushwhack venture down into a small ravine with an unseen creek lurking in the waist-high brush. She warned us to watch our step but that didn't stop me from disappearing into the creek's cleft hidden in the tall brush. Once the creek crossing was safely navigated by all but yours truly, it was a rather rigorous scramble up a steep slope covered with thick brush and trees.

Bushwhacking makes us happy!
Caryn and I were lagging behind the others and Rheo called down to us, telling us to take a path to the left. We did and boy, was it ever the wrong way to go! The two of us slithered and crept through a thick tangle of small trees wanting to pluck our eyes out with their bony claws. With a sarcastic "Thanks, Rheo!", we rejoined our comrades on a cliffy viewpoint with a nice overlook of Blacklock Point. Arguably, the scratchy bushwhack could qualify this hike as a Richard Hike, but hey, I'm the victim here, this time.

Tunnel of doom
We continued onward on the Oregon Coast Trail where I led our little group to a hidden viewpoint with what may be my favorite view in all of Oregon. However, getting there was all the "fun". The path to the viewpoint, in years past, has always been brushy and has always required a rather rigorous bushwhack. However, the thick coastal scrub has pretty much claimed the old path nowadays so I led my innocents on a different route that still left scratches. This was the Richard Hike portion of this little venture and I accept full culpability.

The best view ever!

The view north from this viewpoint toward Bandon is superb with a row of cliffs resembling an ancient colonnade marching off into the misty distance. The sun was sort of out and the fog was sort of in and the sight of the endless procession of waves crashing onto the narrow beach was awesome. A small creek plunged off the cliff here, and we all admired the resulting waterfall. Well worth the blood, sweat, and tears to get here, in my opinion.

Paintbrush hanging out with the lupines

After lunch, Dave and I continued on for a longer loop hike while the others headed back to the car. The Oregon Coast Trail ambled through a dense forest comprised of spruce with a healthy undergrowth of salal and rhododendron. Periodic openings allowed us the odd view from the cliffs every now and then.

Salal was also in bloom

We went as far as Floras Lake and by this time, a gray cloud cover had scudded in, there would be no more sun the rest of the day. The rest of the hike was a pleasant amble on an old road bed with one airport runway crossing interspersed. All in all, a nice hike on an old friend of a hiking trail.

Dave and Caryn scramble down Blacklock Point
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Richard, can't access the flickr album? We are planning on doing this hike when we camp at Cape Blanco........

    1. Whoops my bad! I forgot to link it in the blog. All better now :)

    2. P.S. When are you guys to going to be at Cape Blanco? Maybe I can play tour guide and show you all the secret hidden viewpoints that can only be accessed via a scratchy bushwhack