Samuel H Boardman State Park Attractions - Oregon Coast

The Complete Guide To Samuel H. Boardman State Park (+ How To Get To The Natural Bridges!)

Post Summary: Hikes, Viewpoints, and Places of Interest at Samuel H Boardman in Oregon

Samuel H. Boardman is like a spectacular condensed version of the entire Oregon coast, meaning it’s got a little bit of everything! Gorgeous sea stacks, stunning viewpoints, and yes, even sand dunes can be found all in Samuel H. Boardman State Park!

In this post, we’re giving you the scoop on all the best Samuel H. Boardman State Park hikes, camping, beaches, and viewpoints! We’re also diving into finding that iconic spot on the Natural Bridges for photos, and how to get there as safe as possible (you’ll need to know this!).

Stick around because we’re sharing all the details about stops along Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor for your next epic trip down the Pacific Coast Highway!

The Ultimate Guide To Samuel H. Boardman State Park In Oregon

Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor - Oregon Coast Road Trip Route

Looking for more things to do near Samuel H. Boardman in Oregon? Read these other gorgeous Oregon Coast stops!

History of Samuel H. Boardman State Park

Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor, Oregon Coast

The park is named after the Oregon State Parks superintendent, Samuel H. Boardman, who served from 1929-1950. If it wasn’t for his persistence and tireless work to acquire the parklands and preserve them for visitors, we wouldn’t have the beautiful park we do today!

In the early 1900s, the land of Samuel H. Boardman was mostly owned by private owners, holding small plots all across this part of the Oregon Coast in Curry County. Between 1949 and 1975, Boardman and others worked to purchase & consolidate the land and create a thru-road to continue the Oregon Coast Highway in this area (with many beautiful stops and viewpoints, of course!).

Boardman’s original proposal was to the U.S. Department of the Interior, to in fact make the Curry County coastline a National Park! While that didn’t happen, it’s still a beloved location in Oregon, and protected and enjoyed by many still to this day.


What’s So Cool About Samuel H. Boardman?

Secret Beach

Samuel H. Boardman State Park consists of 12 miles along the Oregon Coast. Scattered in between Gold Beach and Brookings off Highway 101 there are seemingly endless pullouts, viewpoints, trailheads, and picnic spots.

This part of the Southern Oregon Coast also includes 18-miles of The Oregon Coast Trail, an epic backpacking route that winds you through the craggy bluffs, sea stacks, and secluded beaches.

The Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is different from the rest of the Oregon Coast for several reasons, but one stand-out feature is the tall and dramatic seaside cliffs that seem to get better and better around every trail bend!


Best Time To Visit Samuel H. Boardman

The best time to visit Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is during late summer and early fall. These times in the Pacific Northwest generally include the fewest rainy days, so you can enjoy as many gorgeous coastal sunsets as possible.

Late August to mid-October is considered an optimal time to visit. This is when most tourists and families have returned home for the school year, and the trails are less crowded.


Accommodations Near Samuel H. Boardman

Samuel H Boarman Camping - Harris Beach State Park

The easiest and most convenient way to stay around Samuel H. Boardman is by reserving a spot in a campground around the park. There aren’t any campgrounds IN Samuel H. Boardman, but there are several to choose from just a short drive inland or north/south of the corridor. Here are some of our preferred Samuel H. Boardman camping spots:

If you are looking for a little more amenities in your accommodations, we recommend renting an Airbnb in one of the several nearby towns to Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. Here are some places we suggest starting your search:

What To Bring To Samuel H. Boardman

Emily Mandagie standing at Secret Beach in Samuel H Boardman Oregon

To enjoy Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor to its fullest, expect to hop in and out of the car all day. Along the route, there are several shorter trails that vary greatly in terrain and elevation, several viewpoints, and beach access! Here’s what we think you should pack for your trip:

Waterproof Hiking Boots: Between intermittent rain, beach access, and the wet climate of the PNW, you’ll want a boot that’s rugged and waterproof. We love the St Elias Boots by Vasque! They provide really great support and can keep your feet dry on those trails near the tides.

Windbreaker: The coastal winds can be rough, depending on what time of year you visit Samuel H. Boardman in Oregon! Choose a rain jacket that can double as a windbreaker for extra protection against the elements.

Day Backpack: While the hikes in Samuel H. Boardman are short, they also can be steep and tricky to navigate! Keep your hands free for extra stability and balance by stowing all your essentials in a day pack. We’ve used this one by WANDRD for years. It’s waterproof, has easily accessible pockets, and can store camera gear and other items safely.


How To Prepare For A Trip To Samuel H. Boardman

Fees

There are no fees to visit Samuel H. Boardman! Some places along the Oregon Coast require an Oregon Pacific Coast Passport (or a National Park pass) but this corridor is free of charge!

Navigation in Samuel H. Boardman

Along Highway 101 through Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, you can expect to have little to no cell service. This is why we like to download these road trip planning apps, which include offline maps, navigation, and more! Downloading offline maps from Google is incredibly helpful in this stretch of road. We like to save (star) different destinations along our route, and it helps with trip planning – especially at a place like this with so many stops so frequently!

Hiking In Samuel H. Boardman

Generally, you can expect to find short trails that branch off from the parking lots. These trails can range from a simple stroll from your car over to a lookout point, or a mile or two down to the beach. All of these trails are relatively short, but don’t let short fool you! Samuel H. Boardman trails are often steep, slippery, sandy, or rocky! This is a rugged, adventurous coastline to explore and you can expect that same mindset in the trails you’ll encounter!

Hikes in Samuel H. Boardman are most often easy to find, but some can be elusive and tricky to locate! Browse these hiking GPS apps (there are so many to choose from!) to find the one that you like most – our current favorite trail route apps are Alltrails and Avenza.

LEAVE NO TRACE

Samuel H. Boardman is susceptible to human damage if not treated carefully. Sandstone cliffs can quickly erode, people can fall from dangerous ledges, and essential plants can be destroyed underfoot if you aren’t careful where you step!

Before heading out to explore the Samuel H. Boardman trails and beaches, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave the coast in the same condition you found it!

  • Plan ahead and prepare: Make sure to prepare for wet conditions (it’s the PNW after all), and pack the 10 hiking essentials. Download an offline map or hiking guide to know what to expect.
  • Travel on proper surfaces: DO NOT hike off the trail. Many trails have steep cliff drops, so for safety reasons, stick to the path! There can also be delicate flowers and succulents on the ground – try to walk on bare surfaces only.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out. Carry out all trash, and go to the bathroom before you visit. Toilets are not located at every trailhead. Emergency bathroom break? Check out our camping hygiene tips on how to make your own toss bag, and collect your TP! (DO NOT leave it behind in a bush!)
  • Leave Wildlife Undisturbed: Explore tide pools, but leave the critters where they are!
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts: Use established fire rings, only in designated beach areas (check to make sure your beach allows fires!).
  • Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife! Don’t leave food out, and don’t bother the marine life.
  • Be considerate of others: Everyone visits Oregon for their own reasons! Be kind to others and give them the space to enjoy it how they want!

Directions To Samuel H. Boardman

Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is located in the southwest corner of Oregon. Found along the Oregon Coast Highway (Highway 101), Samuel H. Boardman is a 12 mile-stretch of attractions that are easily accessible right off the road. There is no official visitor center, only signs along the highway indicating you are entering the corridor.

Here are the distances to Samuel H. Boardman from these popular nearby Oregon towns:

  • Portland to Samuel H. Boardman: 314 miles – 5-hour 30-minute drive
  • Eugene to Samuel H. Boardman: 209 miles – 4-hour drive
  • Redwood National Park to Samuel H. Boardman: 25 miles, 30-minute drive

The Best Stops Along Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor

Natural Bridges

Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor - Oregon Coast Road Trip Route

Natural Bridges is hands down the most iconic spot in the entire park. It’s one of the easiest places to locate along the right – watch for the plenty of signs that lead you to “Natural Bridges” and park on the lot just off the highway.

How To Reach The Natural Bridges Safely

Natural Bridges Trail

Now, because of social media and the rapid sharing of photos – this particular spot in Samuel H Boardman has been sought out by photographers all over the world – some even to stand on the actual bridge! Keep reading because we’re going to share with you two routes – the safe one, and the dangerous one.

(We should also add a disclaimerwe are not liable for any risk you put yourself in because of reading this post. Make safe decisions, trust your gut, and remember – no photo is worth risking your life!) During our research, we never could identify if the closer route is an official trail. Use your best judgement when determining if it’s the right route for you.

Safe Route: Follow a short trail to one of the best viewpoints in the park — the seven iconic arch rocks and blowholes known as Natural Bridges. Here you’ll find a memorial to Dr. Samuel Dicken, who first envisioned the Oregon Coast Trail. Expect a wooden platform and some incredible views of the aches. This is a very good and safe spot to check out with the whole family! From here, the views are incredible.

Sketchy Trail to Samuel H Boardman Natural Bridges

Sketchy Route: On the north side of the parking lot, follow a small trail that winds down into the forest. Always keep left when the trail splits, and eventually you will come to a section that is STEEP and downhill. We’re not kidding when we say steep – this is where a lot of people turn around. This area can be extremely dangerous and slippery in rainy/icy weather so check the weather to make sure it’s safe on the day of your visit.

After the initial steep downhill, you will be balancing on a ledge with dropoffs on either side (kind of reminded us of a rainforest version of Angel’s Landing Hike in Zion!) and then more downhill sections on the rock, ultimately to a small, safer, flat part of the rock. This is where many people stop and set up tripods to shoot sunrise and sunset. Here, you can also veer left and climb onto the natural bridge, but we actually don’t recommend doing that. It’s much smaller than it looks, and a slip could be deadly. Stay alive and be smart!


Secret Beach

Secret Beach in Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor
Emily Mandagie at Secret Beach on the Oregon Coast

Secret Beach may not exactly be a secret, but it’s still actually a bit tricky to find because of its tiny parking lot, unmarked trails, and little traffic. However, once found, it reveals one of the most magical scenes we’ve ever encountered on the Oregon Coast – serene, foggy sea stacks and wildflowers that cover the cliff’s edge.

We recommend getting to Secret Beach wearing sturdy shoes, and bringing a day pack to keep your hands free. There are a few trails you can take to reach the beach, and we found it a bit confusing to find our way.

For parking, look for an unmarked lot between the Spruce Island Viewpoint, and the Natural Bridges parking lot. It comes suddenly and sharply, and the lot is small and rocky. Come during low tide to have the most access to the beach! This is the shorter and steeper trail that follows Miller Creek.

The longer route begins in the Thunder Cove Parking area, and it’s much easier to find. Go this way if you are nervous about finding the right trail!


Whaleshead Beach

Whaleshead Beach Samuel H Boardman Corridor

Whaleshead Beach is a popular beach for picnic lovers and beach wanderers. It gets its name from the prominent rock formation just offshore, resembling a whale’s spout sticking out of the water!

The access road to the parking lot is gravel and extremely bumpy. Once you get past that part, however, the path down to the beach is short and flat on foot, perfect for spending a long day enjoying the beach!

The beach is more than a mile long, with plenty of places to spread out and enjoy a picnic in solitude. It’s actually one of the longer beaches in Oregon, so groups can spread out and have their own space. It’s also one of the few beaches in Samuel H Boardman State Park that have vaulted toilets, so it’s an excellent spot to have lunch and take a break!


Indian Sands

Now if you think Samuel H Boardman was done showing off, you have been mistaken! On top of gorgeous views and sea stacks around every corner, it also has some pretty cool sand dunes! You can find the Indian Sands area between Thomas Creek Bridge and Whaleshead Beach.

The sand dunes don’t get their sand from the beach, but actually by the eroding sandstone cliffs from above. It’s a little difficult to walk across the sand for this 1.1-mile loop (it’s fairly steep!), so we suggest wearing sandals like Tevas. This way, you can take them off when you just want to put your toes in the sand.

Along the route, get ready to enjoy a swath of tall seagrass and wildflowers among the coastal dunes. This is a less visited area of Samuel H Boardman, so if you want to escape the crowds – this is your spot.


Arch Rock

Arch Rock at Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor

Arch Rock is exactly what it sounds like – an arched rock! Eroded by thousands of years of waves slamming into it, you won’t miss its perfectly round center. Here, there are also several other offshore sea stacks and islands to discover – a perfect place to capture an Oregon coast sunset.

It’s one of the most well-known arches along the Oregon Coast, sitting around 500 feet away from shore. This is an easy 0.2-mile loop trail, with plenty of picnic tables for you to hang out at and enjoy the scenery. Arch Rock Trail is an excellent trail option for families, because it’s very short, with a very huge payoff!


China Beach (North Island Viewpoint)

The easiest way to reach China Beach is on the 0.5-mile trail from the North Island Viewpoint. You can easily stop your trip at the viewpoint, and soak in the incredible views it has to offer, including views of the Natural Bridges.

Continuing down an extra 0.6-miles will bring you to China Beach, which is included along the iconic Oregon Coast trail. This is a less-visited beach, with several sea stacks dotting the shore for some incredible up-close encounters during low tide!


Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint

Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint

Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint is a short, 1-mile long hike that leads to some of the most stunning Oregon coast photography opportunities! Here, you can see the coastline scattered with several sea stacks, and the sunsets here on a clear day are hard to beat.

If you come in the fall and springtime, you may be able to squeeze in some whale watching, too!


House Rock Viewpoint

Here at House Rock Viewpoint, you’ll find the commemorative statue of the park’s namesake – the superintendent Samuel H Boardman. Between here and Cape Ferrelo, there is a 4-mile trail with many offshoots and secluded beaches for a quiet adventure on the Oregon Coast.


Lone Ranch Beach

Lone Ranch Beach is the southernmost attraction in Samuel H Boardman. This long, crescent-shaped beach is scatted with sea stacks, and some are close enough to touch during low tide!

If you are driving from Northern California up the Oregon coast, we suggest stopping here for breakfast, to begin your day of adventure. There are six available picnic tables here, each with incredible views of the surrounding beach. There are also several intertidal pools to see during low tide, so come with curious kiddos (and adults!) to explore the abundance of marine life that live along the Oregon coast.

Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor Map

Looking for a map of Samuel H Boardman State Park? We’ve created one below (actually, including all of the Southern Oregon Coast!) and highlighted the best spots to stop along this section of Highway 101.

More Hiking Trails Near Samuel H. Boardman

Hikes Near Samuel H Boardman

The Coastal Redwoods: Pop just south of the border of Oregon and explore the Coastal Redwoods of Northern California! Discover places like Stout Grove, Tall Tree Trail, and Fern Canyon for trees of spectacular height and grandeur!

Northern Oregon Coast: North of Samuel H. Boardman, there are even more trails to discover along the Oregon Coast! Some of our favorites include God’s Thumb Trail, Ecola State Park, and Cape Perpetua trails.

Have you ever explored Samuel H. Boardman State Park? What was your experience like? Did we miss any places? Share with us in the comments below!

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