Our visit to the Neskowin Beach Ghost Forest was inspired by an Oregon geology exhibit at The Museum of Natural and Cultural History located on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.
Consider this diagram:
Low tide on the Northwest Coast may reveal groves of drowned tree stumps, sometimes referred to as “ghost forests.” In the 1980s, Brian Atwater of the US Geological Survey wondered why. What could explain the ghost forests? Atwater hypothesized that the ground dropped during an enormous earthquake. A tsunami washed in salt water and beach sand, killing the trees.
Nearly 2000 years old, the remains of decayed cedar and spruce tree trunks remained buried and preserved under mud and soil until they were unearthed in a series of storms that pummeled the Central Oregon coast in the winter of 1997-98 (source: TravelOregon.com). Curious to see the ghost forest for ourselves, we consulted the tide forecast and timed our visit to Neskowin beach when the water was at the lowest point in the day.
As the TravelOregon.com story suggests, the main parking lot is between mile markers 98 and 99 off of Highway 101. We visited on a Saturday morning in June and the Farmer’s Market was in full swing. Note: The beach is a bit of a walk. If you have to use the restroom, you’ll find clean public facilities here.
Some of the tree stumps are visible from the north side of the creek, but if you really want to explore, “Suck it up Sally” and make the chilly portage. Wear shorts or cross where the stream is a bit wider and shallower.
Within twenty minutes of our arrival, the tide was coming back in and swirling around the trees closest to the shoreline. Our dog enjoyed the visit as much as the kids (dogs are welcome, but must remain on a leash).
We wandered down to the larger tide pools at the far edge of the beach. In warmer weather, we probably would have ventured in.
The bluff-top homes have a $1,000,000 view—I sure hope they have tsunami coverage with their homeowners insurance policies! All in all, we had a lovely first time visit to Neskowin. Much less touristy than nearby Lincoln City, check out the shops, the beach, and the Ghost Forest the next time you pass through town.