At long last, let the Oregon trail runs begin

26 Jan
The ridge along the top of the Cummins Loop Trail at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area near Yachats.

The ridge along the top of the Cummins Loop Trail at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area near Yachats.

Never did I imagine that it would take me 10 weeks to recover from my first 100-mile ultramarathon, but — maddeningly — it has.

I moved to Oregon just two days after completing the Tunnel Hill 100 on Nov. 15, and at that time, I thought I would be cruising the Oregon trails within 3 weeks, 4 weeks tops. In the meantime, I have taken a number of gorgeous hikes — like Drift Creek Falls and Harts Cove — and a few short runs on the streets of my new home of Lincoln City. But I haven’t hit the trails in earnest … until this weekend.

Finally, my muscles and joints no longer ached, and the ligaments in my knee were less inflamed — not perfect, but good enough to test on the trails.

For weeks, I’ve been like an impatient child paging through the Sears Wish Book and pining for Christmas day. Except in my case, I’ve been clicking through digital calendars of Oregon trail races. As a child, I’d write out my Christmas wish list, complete with corresponding page references in the Wish Book. In the past couple weeks, I put together an Apple Notes listing of area races, complete with dates and distances. Talk about growing older but not up.

Located on the Pacific Ocean, Lincoln City offers 7 nearly uninterrupted miles of beaches that invite walkers and runners, and I have done a couple of beach runs. But it’s the adjacent Oregon Coast Range, covered in Sitka spruce and Douglas fir, that has been my siren song for 70 days.

It was hard to pick among the many options, but the 26 miles of trails at the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area held the most allure, plus they were in an area that I had not yet explored. And they did not disappoint.

Forest Service trail map

Forest Service trail map

Cape Perpetua is located about 52 miles south of Lincoln City on Highway 101 and 3 miles south of Yachats (pronounced, Yaw-hots).

South of the Visitor Center, there are several looped trails, offering different choices. I headed south on the Oregon Coast Trail and then went east/inland on the Cummins Creek Trail.

The Oregon Coast Trail parallels Highway 101 and offers glimpses of the ocean crashing against the rugged shore. Pine trees provide a canopy above and a tangle of roots cover the single track below.

The Cummins Creek Trail also accommodates mountain bikers, so it’s wider and rock covered. I didn’t see any bikers on my run, but I saw a number of hikers. According to my Suunto Ambit2, the trail rose from a low of 23 feet above sea level to nearly 1,240 feet in about 3 miles, with most of that climb coming in the last mile or so.

Including the extraneous jog down the coast, the trail measured about 9.6 miles.

A few words of caution about the trails:

First, the trails are fairly apparent, but route-finding can be a bit tricky at times. I missed the turn from the coast trail down the Cummins trail, heading too far south along the coast. If you’re heading south from the Visitors Center, it makes the turn east on the Cummins trail on a small rock road. There are signs at most trail intersections, but still…

And second, there are enough interweaving trails that it’s easy enough to take a wrong turn. I read about another hiker/runner who took a wrong turn and went several miles out of her way. I, too, took a wrong turn and headed back down the Cummins Creek Loop Trail — when I actually meant to head north and hook up with the Cook’s Ridge Trail. The resulting mileage was about the same for me, but I did more of an out-and-back run than I had intended.

Despite a couple of unintended challenges, the many trails at Cape Perpetua offer a variety of options, and I look forward to exploring every one of those options in the coming months.

♦ ♦ ♦

There’s a parking area at the Visitor Center, but it is a $5 fee for a day pass. For $35, I purchased an annual Oregon Pacific Coast Passport, which is good for many sites up and down the coast, including Drift Creek Falls, Yaquina Head and Marys Peak. I’ll be frequenting all of these spots, so the annual pass makes sense for me. There is also a small, free parking lot up that rock road where the mountain bike trail begins.

On the trip home, I stopped for a burger and beer at Brewer’s on the Bay, located inside the Rogue Ales Brewery on the Newport bayfront. Great beer, great burger, great service. This is one reason I run — and I’ll run even more if it means a return trip to Brewer’s and Rogue beers.

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6 Responses to “At long last, let the Oregon trail runs begin”

  1. run24601 January 26, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    This looks like a wonderful place for trails. 10 weeks is a long time to recover, but then again 100 miles is a long way to run! How did you find the training process for that? Loved the blog post!

    Like

    • Mark Smidt January 26, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

      Thanks so much! I didn’t follow any set plan, but just went from my experience. I have done 3 50-milers in the past and a couple 50Ks, so the build-up to the 100-miler just took that a bit farther. I did a couple of 35-mile training runs that were paired with a 10- to 15-mile run the day before.

      Like

  2. Jim Brennan January 26, 2016 at 8:25 pm #

    Hey Mark! I though I followed you. I thought wrong and missed your first 100 miler. That is awesome, and I’m in awe. I ran my first ultra last year, a 40 miler, and I can’t even imagine 100 miles. I didn’t have another mile in the tank. You are a bear. Congrats! Plus, you moved to Oregon, WoW! Very cool. My wife and I drove the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to SF about 10 years ago, and we’ve been planning to do from SF to Seattle. I’ve been told it is even more beautiful, which is incredible. Thanks for the pix of the Oregon Trail, and the Pub info, can’t go without a cold brewski. My running miles took a beating the second half of last year while rehabbing a house. Doing mostly hiking recently and registered for a summit hike up Rainier in September. I look forward to get back to the great Northwest. I’ll be reading your future adventures. Good luck, my friend.

    Like

    • Mark Smidt January 26, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

      Congrats on your ultra, too, Jim. That step up requires another level of determination, so big kudos to you. If you are ever anywhere near the neighborhood, be sure to look me up. You can always contact me here or there’s more contact info in the “About” section — I run the newspaper in Lincoln City. I’d love to run some trails with you and wash away the dirt with a pint of ale!

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A trail runner in Oregon striving to be an Oregon trail runner | in the deed - February 1, 2016

    […] a route on my GPS watch. Last week, I missed two turns while running the trails at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. This week, I had downloaded the GPX file for the run to my watch. The Horse Creek trail is an […]

    Like

  2. Steady rain changes trail, but training run still possible | in the deed - February 15, 2016

    […] Cummins Creek Trail in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area in the past month (the first run can be found here). I had planned a different trail run for Sunday, but there was a fairly steady rain overnight […]

    Like

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