Heceta Head Lighthouse
Twelve miles north of Florence, Heceta Head Lighthouse (866/547-3696, tours 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Thurs.–Mon. Memorial Day–Labor Day, $3 day-use fee) is dramatically situated above a lovely cove at the mouth of Cape Creek and wedged into the flanks of 1,000-foot-high Heceta Head. The whitewashed lighthouse was completed in 1894, and it’s still in use, beaming the strongest light on the Oregon coast from its perch 205 feet above the pounding surf.
A little below the lighthouse is Heceta House, where the lighthouse keepers used to live. Today, it serves both as an interpretive center (noon–5 p.m. Mon.–Thurs. Memorial Day–Labor Day) and bed-and-breakfast (Heceta Head Lighthouse B&B, 92072 U.S. 101, 541/547-3696 or 866/547-3696, www.hecetalighthouse.com, $209 and up). An easy half-mile trail leads up from the lighthouse’s picnic and parking area to the tower. Other than the day-use fee, admission and tours are free, but donations aid restoration work.
Just south of the lighthouse, the graceful arc of Conde McCullough’s Cape Creek Bridge spans a chasm more than 200 feet deep. From the lighthouse parking lot, a trail leads down to where Cap Creek meets the beach at Devil’s Elbow State Park. Be conscious of tides here if you climb along the rocks adjoining the beach.
Heceta Head is said to be the most photographed lighthouse in the country; that may be difficult to verify, but it’s impossible to quibble with the magnificent sight of the gleaming white tower and outbuildings on the headland, particularly when viewed from a set of highway pullouts just south of the bridge.
The vistas from the lighthouse and network of trails on the headland are no less dramatic: See murres, tufted puffins, and other seabirds, as well as sea lions, on the rock islands below; bald eagles soaring overhead; and in spring, northbound female gray whales and their calves as they pass close to shore.
A trail leading to the north side of Heceta Head offers views to Cape Perpetua, 10 miles to the north.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel