Lincoln County contains 60 miles of Oregon coastline. Through the efforts of governor Oswald West in 1913, coupled with 1967 legislation, this pristine shoreline and all of the Oregon coast is “forever open to the public.” There is a loophole to this mandate: while foot traffic to Oregon’s beaches cannot be restricted, businesses and neighborhoods can prevent parking to those not guests, patrons, or members, thus making access prohibitively far for some.
Sections of the Oregon coast are adept at this rather selfish adoption of the shoreline, including, from what we could tell during our visit, the 2.5 mile stretch along Lincoln Beach. My husband and I looked in vain for beach access or even ocean views in this community (it does, after all, have “beach” in its name). I had spied several candidate spots using Google Maps prior to our excursion, yet only a single very steep neighborhood street and a private RV park resembled what we sought. With no public parking though, even these are not good candidates for a visitor seeking a beach outing. It seems this region was developed by those desiring to stake claim to that which cannot be owned.
Fortunately, Oregon’s state park system guarantees access to coastline beauty. Tucked into lower corner of Lincoln Beach, Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area has a cozy cove about two tenths of a mile in length where you can enjoy sand and sea.
Given the vast amount of parking, large picnic area, and nearby beach and ocean, Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area seems well suited to company picnics and family reunions. There is also a network of paths through wooded zones and picturesque, arced footbridges over the rippling creek that meanders through the park.
Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area has both a north and south entrance with separate parking lots. The largest grouping of picnic tables is closest to the south lot, but starting from the north lot allows you to cross the arched footbridge over Fogarty Creek. From the footbridge you can view the area’s namesake creek as it flows under the Highway 101 overpass to the ocean just beyond.
There are many small parking lots on the Oregon coast that reach miles of beach. In contrast, Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area has a large number of parking spaces – over 150 – to reach a small stretch of shore.
The beach is quite charming, with the creek cutting a path through the sand as it drains to the sea, some offshore rocks adding visual interest, and cliffs hugging either end. An easy beach to reach by Oregon coast standards, while you’re not likely to find seclusion, you can enjoy the camaraderie of fellow beach lovers.