Although one of the few coastal campgrounds between Tillamook and Astoria, Nehalem Bay State Park was sparsely populated during our winter holiday stay. It is a great launch pad for scenic points north (Ecola State Park and other sites near Cannon Beach), and provides quick access to the sleepy town of Nehalem and the adorable community of Manzanita.
Described here are a couple of the in-park walks my husband and I scouted.
Bay-side picnic table
We frequented the boat ramp vicinity in both rain and shine, viewing the calm, broad bay from in-car and out. You can enjoy a meal or simply savor the view at the well-placed bayside picnic table. The town of Wheeler and a section of Highway 101 are visible across the bay. The distant road noise makes it less peaceful than some waterfront vistas, but focusing on the water’s ripples allows the clamor to fade to the background.
Boat ramp beach
Immersed when the tide is high, if you like shoreline strolling and can maneuver the slope to the sand, you may enjoy this driftwood-strewn stretch of beach during ebb or low tide.
Bay loop trail
This 1.8 mile loop trail is a highlight of Nehalem Bay State Park. The initial 250 steps, on broad pavement speckled with pine needles, lands you at a waterfront bench to partake of the view. Carried in from upriver, assorted branches, logs, and uprooted stumps decorate the bay’s edge.