Light and Shadow on Neahkahnie Mountain

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Winter days on the Oregon coast are characterized by fickle weather. Rain and sun, wind and still are never far dispersed. Often, from the broad views afforded by lofty vantages, a variety of weather events unfold simultaneously. Fog wrapped around the hills, clouds heavy with rain, a ray of sunlight illuminating calm sea, yet surrounded by driving rain.

Neahkahnie Mountain is the highest point along the coast. Rising abruptly from the coastline to 1,681′, the treeless summit is almost exactly as far from the ocean as it is high. It is a perfect coastal viewpoint.


I parked at Short Sands Trail North Trailhead in Oswald West State Park and hiked toward the beach, over the suspension bridge that crosses the Necarne Creek. I continued through Elk Flats until crossing over Route 101 where the real hike begins with long mild-graded switchbacks and a completely exposed view of the sea. Eventually the trail enters a thick, beautiful Sitka Spruce forest that breathes out calm and relaxation. Finally it emerges from the trees for a final scramble up the rocky summit.

Along the trail and at the peak I had my camera at ready. At times I had to protect it from rain, and even from hail, but mostly it was out searching for inspiring scenes and motifs of light and shadow.

On the return hike I took the spur to the cliffside overlook of Devil’s Cauldron, arriving just as sunset painted the clouds. I watched quietly until the colors dulled, then continued my hike in the gathering dark.


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