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Florence, Oregon

A Walk on the Wild(life) Side

photo of sunset in Florence, Oregon
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Introduction
Coastal Oregon Wildlife ... Sea Lion Caves ... Hiking & Biking Trails ... Horse Trails

Florence is a town that thrives on the diversity and beauty of its natural resources. As a visitor to the area, you have the chance to truly take advantage of its forests, beaches, trails, estuaries, and all of coastal Oregon's other natural wonders. Spend some time exploring the great outdoors here, and you'll truly understand what Florence is all about.

Coastal Oregon Wildlife

Florence is home to exotic and beautiful animals of all shapes, sizes, and species. Sea lions, bald eagles, brown bears, Orca whales, sandpipers, Roosevelt elk, snow plovers, and cormorants populate the land, skies, and seas of this rich region. Make sure you keep a camera nearby...you'll never know when you'll need it.

Twice each year, wildlife lovers along the Oregon coast are treated to the arrival of hundreds of gray whales as they make their seasonal migration. These graceful creatures pass within sight of shore on their 6,000-mile trek, the longest migratory route of any mammal in the world. In December and January, the whales head south to Baja, where they breed and give birth. In the spring, between March and June, the animals return, passing by Oregon as they head toward the Bering Sea, which they use as rich feeding grounds. For whale lovers on the shore, it makes for a magnificent sight. And if you really want to get up close, you can get a tour with an whale expert and guide, who can take you out to the ocean, where you can see and learn more.

For a more bizarre type of wildlife, visit Darlingtonia Wayside, a wooded park north of Florence, where you'll be able to get a glimpse of the sly cobra lily, a carnivorous plant that uses the sweet scent of nectar to lure unsuspecting insects down its tube to certain death.

On a more serene note, other wildlife worth noting in the area can be found along South Jetty Road, south of the Siuslaw Bridge. In the winter months, among the ponds and marshes in this grassy low country, you may spot Canadian Geese bathing in the ponds, tundra swans traveling in flocks of up to 300, and redneck palaropes foraging through the wetlands. You'll also be treated to the sight of white-rumped Northern Harriers, Northern Flickers, and meadowlarks. A pair of binoculars is recommended to best take advantage of the views.

photo of Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon

Sea Lion Caves

A short distance north of Florence, along the coast, you'll find the Sea Lion Caves, recently recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest sea caves in the world. Since opening for the public 65 years ago, this awesome natural wonder has attracted countless visitors from around the nation and the world, fascinating the old and young alike. Today the cave is also recognized as the only known home on the North American mainland of wild Stellar sea lions. Throngs of sea lions pack the shores and rocks along these caves overlooking the Pacific. Whales and other large marine animals also occasionally venture up close to this year-round sanctuary. Together, the amazing wildlife and scenery of this sight will ensure the visitor memories for a lifetime.

Hiking & Biking Trails

Certainly, one of the best ways to see the wildlife and natural bounty that Florence has to offer is to get out and explore the trails. There are 18 hiking and biking trails in the area, twisting their way around dunes, along rivers and creeks, across mountains, and past varied wildlife and pristine wilderness. Grab a bag lunch and a camera and spend the day hitting these scenic trails.

Carter Dunes Trail
1.5 mile trail that leads to beach, with views of dunes. Located 7.5 miles south of Florence. Trailhead is at Carter Lake Campground turnoff on the west side of Highway 101.
Chief Tsiltcoos Trail
1.25-mile trail that winds through coastal evergreen forests. Located 7 miles south of Florence. Can be accessed from the trailhead at Siltcoos Beach Road.
Kentucky Falls Trail
Difficult trail. Watch children. Winds for 2 miles and descends 760 feet. Located 38 miles east of Reedsport, along the Siuslaw River. Take Highway 48 to 48A. Follow to Forest Service Road 23 to Road 919.
Lagoon Trail
1 mile in length. Located 7 miles south of Florence, and can be accessed from the trailhead at Siltcoos Beach Road.
Mapleton Hill Pioneer Trail
Easy to moderate; listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To reach the trail, travel 1 mile east of town on Highway 126 to North Fork Road. Follow North Fork Road 14 miles to Minerva and turn right.
Overlook Beach Trail
1-mile trial that leads to beach. Located 10 miles south of Florence, on the ocean side of Highway 101.
Pawn Old Growth Trail
4,000-foot trail that loops through old-growth forest. Easy walking; great for family outings. To reach the trail, travel 1 mile east of town on Highway 126 to North Fork Road. Take North Fork for 17 miles. Keep right and cross bridge.
Siltcoos Lake Trail
2.25-mile trail that winds through 60-year-old forests to Siltcoos Lake. Located 7 miles south of Florence, and can be accessed from the east side of the highway opposite Siltcoose Beach Access Road.
Sutton Creek Trail
5 miles of varied, generally level, trails. Located 3 miles north of Florence on the ocean side of Highway 101.
Sutton Trail System
Can be accessed from the Alder Dune and Sutton campgrounds, located 12 miles north of Florence. 6 miles of trails leading to dunes, beaches, and ocean views.
Sweet Creek Trail
Scenic views, 2 catwalks, and 11 waterfalls. Easy to moderate. 4 trail segments, totalling 3 miles, follow Sweet and Beaver Creeks. Wheelchair access on a segment beginning at the Homestead Trailhead.
Tahkenitch Creek Loop
2.5-mile trail winding over high vistas. Located 10 miles south of Florence, on the ocean side of Highway 101.
Tahkenitch Creek Trail
3 different loops of 1.5, 2.5, and 4 miles in length. Trails wind through dunes, marshes, forests, and wildlife. Located 11 miles south of Florence, with access on the ocean side of Highway 101.
Tahkenitch Dunes Trail
2 miles of trail wind through dunes and forests to the spot where Tahkenitch Creek reaches the ocean. Located 12.5 miles south of Florence on the west side of Highway 101. Trailhead parking area is located in the Tahkenitch Campground.
Taylor Dunes Trail
Half-mile trail to vistas of ocean and dunes. Located 7.5 miles south of Florence, Trailhead is at Carter Lake Campground turnoff on the ocean side of Highway 101.
Threemile Lake Trail
7 miles round trip on trail. Halfway through is the highest point on the trail, with a great downhill slope. Trails winds down to dunes and ocean. Located 14 miles south of Florence on the ocean side of Highway 101.
Valley/China Creek Trail
13.5 miles north of Florence on the east side of Highway 101. 4 miles round trip on the same trail. Perfect for level, off-road riding. Picnic area. Photo opportunities.
Waxmyrtle Trail
1.5-mile trail with great views of ocean and surrounding areas. Located 7 miles south of Florence. Can be accessed from the trailhead at Siltcoos Beach Road.

Horse Trails

The Oregon coast is home to the Coast Horse Trails, 14 miles of looped trails exclusively for horseback riders and hikers, which wind across Cape Mountain along the coast. Highlights along the way include a memorial to a horse lover, a reconstructed Native American hunting shelter, and majestic creeks and forests.

The trails here are rated moderately difficult to easy and can be accessed at the Horse Creek or Dry Lake trailheads. Holding corrals and water for horses is available at both locations, as well as limited RV and tent campsites. The Horse Creek Trailhead staging area also features a ramp for physically challenged riders.

National Recreation Areas
Alder Dunes
7 miles north of Florence
Archie Knowles
19 miles east of Florence
Cape Perpetua
20 miles north of Florence
Carter Lake
10 miles south of Florence
Driftwood
9 miles south of Florence
Lagoon
9 miles south of Florence
Rock Creek
15 miles north of Florence
Siltcoos
8 miles south of Florence
Sutton Lake
6 miles north of Florence
Tahkenitch
15 miles south of Florence
Tyee
6 miles south of Florence
Waxmyrtle
9 miles south of Florence

Chambe
of
Commerce
Visitor's Center

270 Hwy 101,
Florence, Oregon 97439
(541) 997-3128
Email

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