If there was a vote for best central Oregon coast lake, I’d cast mine for Woahink Lake. I’d even venture to say it’s among the top in the state, which is noteworthy for a state with abundant water bodies. Part of Jessie M. Honeyman State Park just south of Florence, my husband and I visit often. Good for both open air and forested walking, as well as swimming, picnicking, and boating, this lake is a treat alone, or with your spouse, family, or pooch companion.
The lake has two entrances in close proximity, East and West, each offering different lake experiences. Both areas are rich with fresh air, lake views, and lots of wonderful Oregon outdoors in which to imbibe.
East Woahink is the mainstream entrance to the lake. Yet even on the busiest days of summer, you can find secluded spots. Plentiful picnic tables scattered in the vast lawn allow you to walk and rest as desired, all with gorgeous views.
The possible activities here extend beyond walking. In spring and summer, birdwatchers can view osprey and occasionally a bald eagle circling overhead and perhaps diving to catch lunch. Geese, often with young in tow, may be spied along the water’s edge. And it is a year-round hangout for a large flock of crows.
Water recreation includes chilly lake swimming during warmer months. Canoes, kayaks, jet skis, fishing and speed boats depart from the boat launch in any season. If you time it right, you may be entertained by the air and water antics of remote control sea planes. (I believe this is a monthly event for a local club.) And my husband and I recently ran into a vacationing Floridian couple who were on quest in their attractive custom-built canoe for a few of the several geocaches stashed around the lake.
|Terrain: Uneven grass is accessed after stepping up a curb. Walk carefully to avoid ankle twisting.|
|Seating: Five picnic tables are spaced at intervals on the same level as the parking lot. Several more are down a grassy hill.|
|Restrooms: None from the upper parking lot. From the lower parking lot, you can reach them down a sloped path with bumpy irregular cracks. The West Woahink restrooms are much easier to reach (see description below).|
|Directions: South of Florence, take Canary Road east off Highway 101. Pass the sign for West Woahink, and shortly after you will see the East Woahink entrance on your right. Gates block the parking lot when the park is closed. Hours vary by season.|
I often walk in proximity to bodies of water – river, lake, ocean. I recently surmised, though, that when in the vicinity of trees and other lush greenery, I can walk a bit farther, breath a bit easier, and even feel more energized afterward. West Woahink fits the bill when it comes to oxygen-generating vegetation. Several paths meander around this end of Woahink Lake. You can wander at will and discover picnic tables tucked into various forested nooks. Or, you can try the loop path I’ve outlined, which offers seating at reasonable intervals and has moderate terrain.
Leg 1: Three trail entrances depart from the parking space indicated on the destination map. The one furthest right (nearest the parking space) starts out the walk. 100 steps reach an unusually long picnic table. My husband calls it the “Viking table” due to film depictions of burly men in horned helmets feasting at tables of similar length. Note: There is a few-inch drop from old pavement to dirt just before this table.
Leg 2: Another 30 steps take you near a covered area (appears it used to host a grill for barbequing). Veer right, along the wide trail. It starts downhill, but before it gets too steep you’ll see a path to the left branching up to a picnic table. From the covered area to this lake-view table, absent a bench on one side, is about 100 steps.
Leg 3: To reach a lake-view table with both benches intact, take the path parallel to the water for 25 steps.
Leg 4: From the side of this table opposite the water, 75 steps on a narrower path with some roots to negotiate directs you back to the covered area. Head through the middle of the covered area to the broad path on the other side. About 100 steps return you to the parking lot.
|Terrain: Leaf-topped packed dirt and gravel, mostly flat but uneven in places. The narrower paths have roots and uneven drop offs. You can see most these obstacles prior to reaching them, so can choose a better groomed path if necessary.|
|Seating: Picnic tables at various intervals|
|Restrooms: Yes, 60 steps from nearest parking up zigzag sloped sidewalk. You pass a bench on the way.|
|Directions: South of Florence, take Canary Road east off Highway 101. You will soon see a sign for West Woahink on your right. Gates block the parking lot when the park is closed. Hours vary by season.|