The Neskowin Ghost Forest Isn’t as Scary as It Sounds

This post may contain affiliate links.
View of neskowin ghost forest

Did you know the Oregon and Washington coasts have over thirty ghost forests? These areas were once teeming with rainforest life but now contain the remnants of the past. Rising sea levels, tectonic shifts, or saltwater poisoning have altered these coastlines.

One of these locations is less than two hours from Portland, Oregon: the Neskowin Ghost Forest. Although it sounds haunting and scary, it’s a place of beauty.

You can readily access these stumps and imagine what life might have looked like hundreds or thousands of years ago under a lush canopy of trees. Let’s learn more!

What Is the Neskowin Ghost Forest?

When the tide is out along the Oregon coast near Neskowin, about 100 stumps appear buried deep into the sand. Sea creatures like barnacles and mussels cover the remains of this Sitka spruce forest.

When it was alive, this forest was a coastal rainforest that towered 150-200 feet in the air. The stumps have decayed, and many are now hollow, creating an eerie atmosphere. But not one that’s haunting.

View of neskowin ghost forest

Where Is the Neskowin Ghost Forest?

Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site is located on the coast of Oregon in Tillamook County, about 15 miles north of Lincoln City. The Neskowin Ghost Forest, just south of Proposal Rock, lies within the Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site. 

A drive along the Oregon Coast Highway will take you to the public parking lot that’s 5 minutes from the beach. It’s easily accessible.

When Was the Neskowin Ghost Forest Discovered?

Although the stumps in Neskowin Ghost Forest are estimated at 2,000 years old, the area has only recently been discovered.

During the winter of 1997 to 1998, several storms pummeled the Oregon coast. This violent weather unearthed the remains of a Sitka spruce forest, now known as the Neskowin Ghost Forest.

No one knows exactly what happened to the 150 to 200-foot trees, but scientists believe an earthquake and resulting tsunami could have destroyed the forest and buried the stumps.

Others believe the 1700 Cascadia earthquake could have dropped this land into the sea, thus covering and preserving the stumps.

What Is Proposal Rock?

Proposal Rock is a popular location just north of the Neskowin Ghost Forest. It gets its name from the proposal of Charles Gage, a sea captain, to Della Page, the daughter of a homesteading family in Oregon. It’s an island you can reach when the tide is completely out.

You can even take a trail to climb to the very top. The summit has a small forest and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, the coastline, and the Ghost Forest. Just make sure you venture back down and off the island before the changing of the tides.

Keep in Mind: Looking to camp while in Oregon? Here’s how to make Oregon camping reservations!

View of proposal rock near neskowin ghost forest

How Do You Get to the Neskowin Ghost Forest?

You can access the Neskowin Ghost Forest all year. As you drive north along Highway 101 from Lincoln City, you’ll turn left onto Salem Avenue at milepost 98 in Neskowin. There’s a public parking lot when you enter the state recreation site.

As you walk towards the beach, you’ll see Proposal Rock and the stumps of the Neskowin Ghost Forest to the south. Slab Creek runs through the beach and empties into the ocean, so you’ll cross it to reach the ghost forest. 

The creek is shallow, but prepare for chilly water. Low tide is the best time to see the stumps and venture out to Proposal Rock.

What Else Can You Do at Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site?

Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site protects this land along the Oregon Coast. If you want to spend the day on the beach, bring a towel, sunscreen, and a book, and enjoy basking in the sunshine and listening to the crashing waves.

But after you’ve snapped photos of the ghost forest, consider exploring the area on foot by hiking one of the trails. South of the ghost forest is the Siuslaw National Forest, where you can find two trails.

Hart’s Cove Trail is a moderate 5.3-mile out-and-back route that takes you to an overlook of the Pacific Ocean and Hart’s Cove. However, it closes from January 1 to July 15 due to habitat protection. 

But you can also find the Lower Cascade Head Trail, a moderate 4.2-mile out-and-back hike that takes you through the Cascade Head Preserve.

You can also visit Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge north of the Neskowin Ghost Forest. The Two Rivers Trail is an easy 2.7-mile loop that’s less visited. This trail through the forest and meadows has a slight elevation gain of 341 feet.

Keep in Mind: Before you start planning your trip to Oregon, click the link to see if the national parks in Oregon are actually worth visiting!

When Is the Best Time to Visit Neskowin Ghost Forest?

Neskowin, Oregon, gets a lot of rain each year. The national average is about 38 inches, while Neskowin gets almost 80 inches. So consider the time of year when you plan a visit. 

July, August, and September are comfortable and pleasant, with highs rarely reaching 80 degrees and less precipitation. 

You also want to pay attention to the tide charts. Plan to arrive about an hour before low tide. This will give you time to park, cross the creek, and make your way to the Neskowin Ghost Forest.

No Need to Feel Scared in Oregon’s Neskowin Ghost Forest

Although it has an eerie name, the Neskowin Ghost Forest isn’t haunted or scary.

The site is unique, strange, and beautiful. So the next time you plan a trip to Eugene or Portland, consider taking a day trip to Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site to enjoy the beautiful ocean views, the nearby hiking trails, and the stumps of this ancient ghost forest.

Will you be making summer plans for the Oregon coast?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article

You Can Still Take This 120-Year-Old Coast-to-Coast Road Trip

Next Article
A man shaving his face inside his camper

How Do You Shave in a Camper?