Port Orford Heads

The Port Orford Heads State park provides a nice loop trail of a mile or so with a couple of options for branching off. The trails are very well maintained and receive regular but moderate use. Most of the trail is dirt but there are portions that are paved. The park is day use only and is only open April through October.

A map of the trails at the Port Orford Heads is located in the parking area.

A map of the trails at the Port Orford Heads is located in the parking area.

The Port Oford Head State Park is a historical site. This used to be the location of the Coast Guard Rescue boat, tower and crew housing. The housing still stands and now serves as a museum which is open Wednesday-Monday 10AM to 3:30PM. The 36ft motor life boat that was used at this location still on site.

The Coast guard Lifeboat that used to launch from Nellies Cove is now housed near the parking area.

The Coast guard Lifeboat that used to launch from Nellies Cove is now housed near the parking area.

The trails leave from the housing complex and yard. There is a sign on the south-west that says Cove Trail and one in the north-west that leads to the heads and tower. In reality, these two trails meet and create a nice loop. A branch off of the tower trail leads out to a view point at the tip of the north-west head.

While the sign suggests that this is the Cove Trail, it is actually the beginning of a nice loop. The Cove view point is .35 miles.

While the sign suggests that this is the Cove Trail, it is actually the beginning of a nice loop. The Cove view point is .35 miles.

 

The trails stay high up on the heads and weave in and out of thick forest areas. Each opening offers a unique view ranging from the old launch site at Nellie Cove to Redfish Rocks to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.

The view of Nellies Cove from the Cove Trail viewpoint.

The view of Nellies Cove from the Cove Trail viewpoint.

 

Some areas along the heads provide sweeping views of the rocky headlands and the ocean beyond.

Some areas along the heads provide sweeping views of the rocky headlands and the ocean beyond.

While hiking this area keep your eyes and ears open. There is a resident population of Black Tail Deer that you might encounter as well as several varieties of birds and other wildlife. Flowers may also be present depending on time of year.

A variety of wildlife may be seen in the area such as this group of Harbor Seals basking in the sun as viewed from the headlands viewpoint.

A variety of wildlife may be seen in the area such as this group of Harbor Seals basking in the sun as viewed from the headlands viewpoint.

There is one other trail at this location though it is not an “approved trail” and the park service has tried to keep it rather hidden. This is the trail down to Nellie Cove. The trail is actually a set of stairs that the old coast guard crew used to access the rescue boat when they needed to go to sea. By my count, there are 356 steps remaining and my best guess is that somewhere around 100 of the steps are missing making for a very steep slippery area. This is not an easy trek and I don’t recommend it as there is little to be seen once you have made your way down. To find the start of this trail, one must slip behind a tree that is straight out from the museum (follow the paved walkway that seems to go straight into a tree and then go around).

Heading down the stairs to Nellies Cove. The stairs are rough and the State Parks does not maintain this access.

Heading down the stairs to Nellies Cove. The stairs are rough and the State Parks does not maintain this access.

Nellies Cove is where the boast used to launch. Now it is an odd concrete walkway that dead ends into a seastack. I had the impression that if I only knew the magic words a doorway might open. It may have been too much sun or I have been reading to much Tolkein.

Nellies Cove is where the boast used to launch. Now it is an odd concrete walkway that dead ends into a seastack. I had the impression that if I only knew the magic words a doorway might open. It may have been that I had been out in too much sun or I have been reading to much Tolkein.

 

Getting There

From Bandon, head south on highway 101 to the town of Port Orford. Turn right on 9th street and then left on Port Orford highway (a very inappropriately named road. This is not a highway but a narrow road leading out to the heads).

 

Click to Map It