Ridge Path trail view from Gearhart Beach Oregon picture

View from Gearhart beach, nearby the Ridge Path.

mussels picture


Gearhart: The hidden charms of the Ridge Path

Road Journals Blog—Lore in Gearhart says that local Native Americans used to get from Warrenton to the Necanicum Estuary via a narrow dirt path to harvest mussels on the beach.

All told, the journey was less than a mile. Today, although the area has become a fully developed neighborhood, that same trip is accessible along the Ridge Path.

On 8th Street, tucked between houses just east of Cottage Avenue, is the path's trailhead. If you’re not actively looking for the wooden posts that mark the way you’ll likely pass them by—which is part of the allure. Understated and hidden, it feels like a town secret

With a cup of coffee in hand, I wandered the Path one cool morning as the fog slipped between the shore pines and sitka spruce trees spanning the trail. Wildlife, including deer, coyotes, geese, and ducks, often makes an appearance on the path, though I wasn’t lucky enough to spot any animals. Instead, runners from the high school cross-country team breezed by, and a couple of gentlemen deep in conversation ambled along on their morning constitutional.

From end to end, the path is seven-tenths of a mile. It meanders behind the fire station and past some of the oldest houses in town. (702 D Street and 702 3rd Street are marked as historic homes.) It's a flat, easy walk, and a nice alternative to city streets.

Instead of car engines, you’ll hear bird song, with an added benefit of being able to peek into people’s gardens and admire local architecture.

Originally, the path led straight down to the sand, but an irascible homeowner tired of people trooping past his back door, and put up a wall where the Ridge Path ends at F Street. Locals went into in an uproar, the resident stood firm, and the town had to alter its beach access to Wellington Street.

To mimic the original mussel-hunting travelers on this path, turn right on F Street where the Ridge Path ends, left on Wellington, and head over the dunes, where mussels await.

Amara Holstein wrote about Gearhart for the March/April 2011 Oregon edition of Via.

Photography by Simon Blackley/Flickr (mussels); Kristin Bell (path)

This blog post was first published in April 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.