While looking for places to run with adoptable dogs from the Lincoln County Animal Shelter, I happened upon portions of a through-hike that I hadn’t even known was there, but is now something I treasure.
The Ocean to Bay Trail connects the ocean vistas, great big trees and picturesque working bay front that are the hallmarks of Newport, yet the trail, especially the forested middle section, remains a hidden gem.
“We don’t go out of our way to promote it,” said Newport Parks and Recreation Director Jim Protiva. “We’re not hiding it; we love for visitors to use it, but our focus is on maintenance to provide safe recreational opportunities for our residents.”
The roughly seven miles (out and back) can be taken in three sections:
Pacific Ocean to Big Creek Park
The trail starts at the rear of the Agate Beach parking lot at the north end of Newport, takes you under Highway 101 via a large culvert, then follows well-maintained gravel sections connected by elevated walkways that twist through skunk cabbage, ferns and other mixed native and non-native plants. It is one of the first projects Protiva headed when he started working with the parks department, and remains one of his proudest accomplishments.
“That section was funded by a grant from State Parks,” Protiva said. “We did the build in the winter of 05-06 and it was miserable, but totally worth it.”
The trail ends at Big Creek Park, a great place to fill water bottles, use the public port-a-potty, and grab some fresh dog poop bags or dispose of full ones.
Big Creek Park to the Old Newport Pool
Rising from the south side of the park, the middle section of the trail utilizes unpaved service roads used by the City of Newport, and is nice and wide. After warming up on the mostly flat first section, you will now work out some climbing muscles, as the trail undulates a few times, then climbs again at the end.
The wildest part of the trail, this section contains impressively big trees.
“This is a rare forested trail in Newport that offers a glimpse of what the area can look like naturally,” said Newport Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Nancy Steinberg. “We have plenty of landscaped parks; this serves a critical role as a forested area that maintains a natural feel.”
New signage at the start and end of this section, dubbed “Forest Park,” is courtesy of an agreement between the city, which owns the property, and the Lincoln County School District.
“We had an old building we could have just demolished, but we chose to let the school district retrofit the building and use it for their new offices,” Protiva said. “This kind of project is an excellent repurposing of public facilities and helps save taxpayers money. As part of the leasing agreement though, they had to provide parking for park users and signage for the trails.”
Forest Park to Bay
From the top of the trail head, head west toward NE Fogarty, take a right onto NE 12th Street then left onto NE Eads Street. Follow Eads to E Olive Street and turn left. In a few blocks turn right onto Harney Street, which becomes SE Moore Drive after crossing Highway 20, then head straight down to the bay.
Though this section is on paved city streets, Protiva said it might change in the future.
“It’s part of our master plan to complete the trail but that is well in the future,” he said. “Until then, this still counts as the most scenic way to get from the ocean to the bay.”
Overall, Protiva said there is reason to be proud of the work that been done to make the route.
“It connects the elementary, middle and high schools, the city commons, the ocean and pretty much the whole watershed for the City of Newport,” he said. “There’s a lot of reasons we consider this a crown jewel.”