♫ Strawberry hill forever… ♪
My husband whistles or sings this each time we pass the sign for Strawberry Hill Wayside. So accustomed am I to this musical outburst of modified lyrics, even if he didn’t make a peep the song would begin whirling through my head as we approached this section of the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, not far from where Lane County melds into Lincoln County.
Notice I said “pass the sign,” for that was what we always did. The parking area, picnic tables, and scenery assigned to Strawberry Hill Wayside are obscured from sight of the road by – no big shock here – a low hill. You see highway ingress and egress, but what might be hidden behind that mound of greenery is a mystery, a chance. So we drove on by…until recently.Now I can offer some clues to help you decide if it’s worth a stop. If you’re looking for a walking beach, pick another. This chunk of coastline, a portion of Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint, is more suited to sea life than upright land mammals. But if you’re patient and persistent, shore birds, seals, tide pool creatures, and even a distant whale spout are all common sights on this craggy bit of coast. If these are your bailiwick, Strawberry Hill Wayside may be a gratifying venue.
A handful of picnic tables are arranged on or near the lawn skirting the parking lot at Strawberry Hill Wayside. Those nearest the wood fence offer seated views of coastline to the north and south, the near waters generously dotted with dark, bumpy basalt. Look through field glasses and you might notice some of the bumps are actually seals relaxing on the rocks among the shallow splashing waves.
At Strawberry Hill Wayside, you don’t descend to a sandy beach. Instead the water plays around jagged basalt outcroppings, so once you dismount more than 20 stair steps at sea level you are primarily on rock. For those with sturdy ankles, stable knees, and strong legs, this is an ideal place to head at low tide to peer at the exposed world of sticky, slimy, sometimes colorful sea residents. But if your lower limbs are not up to the challenge, you should stick to sightseeing from the picnic area.
The step count above reaches the rocks. After that you’re on your own to explore.