Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 10, 2018)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018
Life in the
Lured by the name
Follow the Hobbit Trail to beach near Florence
A view overlooking the Hobbit Beach at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. PHOTOS BY ZACH URNESS / STATESMAN JOURNAL
SALEM STATESMAN JOURNAL
USA TODAY NETWORK
It’s amazing how much the
name of a place impacts our de-
sire to visit.
Build a trail through a grove of
large Oregon trees and name it
“Forest Trail,” and you might get
some interest. But change the
name to “Pathway of the Giants,”
and there’s a good chance crowds
That’s not universally true, of
course. But places with dramatic
or alluring names — Devil’s
Staircase, God’s Thumb, Grove of
Titans — capture the imagination
in ways blander names just don’t.
Such is the case with a fun little
pathway on the Oregon Coast that
goes by the name “Hobbit Trail.”
The half-mile trail drops
through the forest to the beach at
Carl G. Washburne Memorial
State Park, just north of Florence.
It’s a nice hike, particularly for
children, with spots where it feels
as though you’re hiking through a
green tunnel. There are octopus-
shaped trees and a cool transition
from the dark forest to ocean
And yet, if we’re really being
honest, the pathway is pretty simi-
lar to numerous coast trails.
It’s that name, “Hobbit Trail,”
that really lured me for a late
December hike. With my 1-year-
old hobbit-sized daughter in tow,
we were hoping to see something
that resembled Middle Earth and
the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
I’m not alone. The Internet is
filled with articles about the Hob-
bit Trail, including ones with
breathless headlines such as
“Hike The Magical Hobbit Trail
To a Secluded Oregon Beach.”
That fanfare has led to large
summer crowds, despite the trail
beginning at a small and non-
descript trailhead along U.S.
“It’s a really busy trail, and I’m
not entirely sure why,” Wash-
burne park ranger Jason Hen-
nessey said. “During the summer,
there are cars lining the highway,
even though you can drive a half-
mile to a much easier access point
and get to the same beach.”
The name originated sometime
in the 1970s, park officials said.
Previously, the area was home
to a much steeper pathway to the
beach called the “Indian Trail.”
To create a better experience,
officials built a new trail that
switchbacks downhill more gradu-
ally. It was named the Hobbit Trail
in honor of the popular books by J.
R. R. Tolkien.
Even if the trail doesn’t really
resemble The Shire, there’s still
The Hobbit Trail at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park looks like it came right out of a fantasy movie.
Visitors can expect to find many
twisted and unique-looking trees as
they trek along the Hobbit Trail.
Rollie Urness, 1, rambles around on the Hobbit Beach.
plenty of reason to visit, especial-
ly in the winter when crowds are
One great thing about the trail
are the options.
The standard Hobbit Trail is a
mile round-trip and great for kids.
But you can extend the day by
adding a hike to Heceta Head
Lighthouse for a spectacular tour
of 5.2 miles out-and-back.
You might not run across Fro-
do, Bilbo or Samwise the Brave,
but you’ll enjoy a nice family-
friendly trek on the coast.
Zach Urness has been an out-
doors writer, photographer and
videographer in Oregon for 10
years. He is the author of the book
“Hiking Southern Oregon” and
can be reached at zurness@States-
manJournal.com or (503) 399-6801.
Find him on Twitter at @Zach-