This Beautiful Hard-To-Reach Beach Is Known As An Oregon Secret

Nowhere is the dramatic wildness of the Oregon Coast more ravishing than on the 12-mile stretch that comprises the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, a highlight of which is Secret Beach, an unmarked cove that fully reveals its rugged charms only at low tide. This sleeper hit is entirely unmarked on the roadside, so it can only be found with the help of insider info. But we have those deets, so that it can be your secret, too.


Once you're standing in this sheltered cove, you'll swear you're deep in the wildest wilderness, so it's pretty nifty to know that, while you're getting wet and salty exploring, you're always just a short, slippery scramble to a fluffy towel snatched from the trunk of your car, and just 15 minutes from a short stack at Mattie's Pancake House in Brookings. So it's pinch-me-level amazing that the scenery is comparable to the landscapes of Northern California's Lost Coast Trail, considered the best coastal trail in America, which intrepid backpackers hike miles upon miles to see.

In Oregon, a day at the beach is a little different

The sharp, salty seaweed scent of the ocean braces your nostrils. A sneaker wave hits the jagged rock formations encircling the beach and shoots skyward with a thunderous roar, drowning out the metric "Caw! Caw! Caw!" of hovering seagulls. The morning fog lifts as you wander through a cave-like arch and spy some basking sea lions. Suddenly, you find the sweet spot, deep in this sheltered cove, out of the wind. Then the sun breaks out, and it feels like a little miracle.


The wind and waves have carved the Oregon Coast into a thing of rare beauty, but the trade-off is unpredictable weather. An Oregon beach day is often about wading through tide pools in rubber boots, digging for clams, or building forts and lean-tos out of the jumbled heaps of driftwood that line the shore at places like the stunning Cannon Beach.

The good news is that this stretch of coast is known as the Banana Belt for its 191 sunny days per year, so you might get lucky. Just remember that fleece and flannel are your Pacific Northwest friends, and prepare to have whatever kind of beach day Mother Nature has planned for you, including wind, rain, and fog. There's a good reason locals are fond of saying, "Oregonians don't tan; they rust." And it's no wonder Portlanders' favorite pastime is wrapping their mittens around the best cup of coffee in all of America.


Planning the perfect arrival at Secret Beach

You have several options for approaching Secret Beach. The easiest is to park on the small, unmarked gravel pad off Highway 101, just south of mile marker 345. Taking the trail to your right when facing the ocean, it's a short but potentially slick and muddy .75-mile hike down to the beach — be prepared for some light scrambling — slightly longer if you detour to take in all the side trails to viewpoints while descending. Every view here is worth a detour, as is every turnout along this stretch of Highway 101. "The whole Samuel H Boardman corridor is like something out of a movie," one Redditor wrote.


But there is an even better way to get there: Instead of parking at the Secret Beach trailhead, park at the trailhead for Arch Rock (pictured above) just to the north. The 2.3-mile round-trip hike from passes through a fairyland forest rich with waterfalls on your way to the big reveal of the beach. At low tide, from the southernmost end of Secret Beach, you can even see the next set of sights further south: seven dramatic arches in the area known as Natural Bridges. You are walking along a section of the 362-mile Oregon Coast Trail, so you might even encounter a thru-hiker headed for Washington or California. Just don't be surprised if you're tempted to join them.