Just south of Arch Cape, Neahkahnie Mountain towers nearly 1,700 feet up from the edge of the sea. U.S. 101 climbs up and over its shoulders to an elevation of 700 feet, and the vistas from a half dozen pullouts (the highest along the Oregon coast) are spectacular—but do try to keep your eyes on the snaking road until you’ve parked your car.
This stretch of the highway, built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, was constructed by blasting a roadbed from the rock face and buttressing it with stonework walls on the precarious cliffs. The faint-hearted or acrophobic certainly couldn’t have lasted long on this job.
The handiwork of these road builders and masons can be admired at several pullouts, along with the breathtaking vista of Manzanita Beach, Nehalem Spit, and some 17 miles south to Cape Meares. Much of Neahkahnie Mountain and its rugged coastline are preserved in Oswald West State Park, one of the state’s finest.
Immediately to the south, huddled along an expansive curve of beach at the foot of Neahkahnie Mountain, quiet Manzanita (pop. 622) makes a pleasant stop for lunch or for the weekend. When adjacent coastal areas are fogbound, the seven-mile-long Manzanita Beach often enjoys sunshine because of the shelter of Neahkahnie Mountain.
As one of the few towns along the north Oregon coast that’s not located directly on U.S. 101, Manzanita feels more peaceful and secluded than most others; like Cannon Beach, it’s also a relatively wealthy and stylish town.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel