The Southern Oregon Coast is rugged and wild, less developed than the cute towns and beachside cities up north – and at the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor (which is a mouthful!), you’ll find some of the most breathtaking ocean views! You’ve probably seen this spot all over Instagram – the Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Park are definitely a pretty incredible sight.
But, this spot is also a little tricky to find! This guide will tell you how to get to the iconic viewpoint of the Natural Bridges, how you can walk across the bridge itself (if heights don’t scare you), and some more tips for exploring this gorgeous place on the Oregon Coast. I’ve also included directions to a more secluded, not-so-popular spot nearby, where you can get the same amazing views all to yourself!
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About the Natural Bridges in Samuel H. Boardman State Park
There’s an official hike, called the Natural Bridges Cove – but this isn’t where we’re going! That hike is pretty sweet, but the views you’ll get aren’t the same ones you see in the photos. The trail to the Natural Bridges doesn’t have a name (as far as I know), but if you know where you’re going, it’s not hard to follow!
The Best Time to Hike to the Natural Bridges
The trail to the Natural Bridges isn’t very long – but it is very steep! Even in dry conditions, it’s hard to go up and down the steep dirt pathway. It can definitely be dangerous in wet conditions, especially once you get to the actual bridge – but the whole trail becomes pretty muddy, and it’s hard not to fall on your butt!
The coast is known for being rainy, so while I love hiking on the Oregon Coast in the spring and fall, summer is going to be the best time for this hike – or, a rare day when there hasn’t been any rain.
Can Dogs Hike to the Natural Bridges?
Dogs are allowed on the trails at Samuel H. Boardman State Park, but the Natural Bridges may not be the best hike for your pup.
But, we brought my girlfriend’s dog (cute, right?), who loved it and did just fine. Most of the trail will be all right for agile dogs who can climb up and down the steep path – as long as they’re good on leash and won’t pull you down! If you want to walk across the bridge, it does get narrow. It’s probably easier for smaller dogs, and you’ll be able to walk across most of the bridge. There is a section where you need to climb a little bit, so dogs may not be able to get through here – but this section is at the end of the bridge, so you’re not missing out if you turn around!
Leave No Trace at Samuel H. Boardman State Park
Anytime you’re outdoors, and especially in a place as popular and heavily trafficked as the Natural Bridges, it’s essential that you practice Leave No Trace (LNT). LNT is a set of seven principles that help us understand our impact on the outdoors – because while we usually have good intentions, the environment is more fragile than we think, and one snap-second decision can cause damage to the environment that will take the earth years, even decades to repair.
Leave No Trace means enjoying the outdoors without disrupting nature. Here are the 7 principles of LNT, and how they apply when you hike the Natural Bridges Trail!
- Plan ahead and prepare – read this guide, make sure you know where to go, and have the right shoes and gear to hike the steep trail.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces – stay on the trail to avoid trampling grasses and plants!
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash of any kind behind. Pack it out! There is no trash can at the trailhead, so be prepared to keep your trash for a bit.
- Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a cool rock or leaf, but leave these things where they belong! Animals often use these, and if everyone takes one, the parks won’t be as pretty.
- Minimize campfire impacts – campfires are not allowed anywhere at Samuel H. Boardman State Park.
- Respect wildlife – dogs are allowed on the trail, but keep them on a leash. Avoid feeding or approaching birds or any other animals you might see.
- Be considerate of other visitors – the trail is narrow and steep. Yield to uphill hikers, and be respectful – no speakers or loud music.
What to Bring to the Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Park
When you’re hiking, it’s important to be prepared! Here’s what you need when you hike to the Natural Bridges.
Shoes With Good Traction
This one is so important for this hike! It’s steep, so your shoes need to have good grip, especially if there’s any mud.
For short trails like this one I prefer sandals over big hiking boots. My Chacos are my favorite hiking sandals, but I also love the Luna Barefoot Sandals, which offer a thinner sole – this can be helpful for added grip! If you want more coverage, I recommend the Danner Mountain 600 hiking boots.
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No matter the time of year, I recommend bringing a wind breaker and some layers to hike at the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. It’s breezy by the ocean, so even on a warm day you can feel the chill pretty quickly! The coast is also known for moody weather, so it can be a bit unpredictable.
The North Face Class V Windbreaker is a great lightweight, packable option for exploring, and it’s perfect for windy days that aren’t too cold. The RVCA Meyer Packable Anorack Jacket is another cute windbreaker , and folds up nice and small! For added warmth and layering, add a a Patagonia fleece.
A Day Bag
You won’t need a big hiking backpack for this short trail (unless you have a lot of stuff), but a day bag is a must for carrying water and snacks, since you’ll be busy trying to keep your balance! I love my Topo Designs Y-Pack. If you need a bigger bag (maybe for a picnic blanket), check out the 37L Mountain Backpack by Topo Designs! If you’re carrying camera gear, the best backpack is the Alex Strohl Mountain Light.
Water is important no matter where you’re hiking, but especially for a trail that’s as steep as this one! Single use water bottles are, of course, terrible for the environment, so avoid that and bring a reusable one.
For hiking, the CamelBak water reservoirs are convenient and easy – they can fit in your hiking backpack for water on the go. Nalgene water bottles are great for day to day, and if you want an insulated water bottle to keep your water cold and refreshing, Hydro Flasks are the best!
How to Get to the Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Park
Now, let’s talk about how to get to the Natural Bridges! You’ll begin at the Natural Bridges Trailhead.
Trailhead Coordinates: 42.1897253,-124.3664675
The parking lot is pretty small, and this spot is popular – so I recommend avoiding weekends, and going later in the evening. The sunset lighting will give you the best views, and there will be fewer people around!
You may not have service on the trail, so keep reading and there will be a summary of the directions that you can screenshot to reference later.
Once you park, there is a bridge to the left of the trailhead. The view is nice so you can definitely check it out, but don’t hike this way! This will lead you on the Natural Bridges Cove trail, but you won’t see the iconic overlook that’s in all the photos.
Instead, go to the right – there’s a trail that leads away from the parking lot, into the forest.
Walk on this path for a little bit, until you come to a fork in the trail. Go left, but make a mental note of this spot – I’ll talk about it later when I tell you about the secluded, less popular overlook!
In just a few steps, there’s another fork – go left again.
From there, you’ll just follow the path, and soon you’ll see the overlook through the trees! Keep going toward it, and you’ll come to the incredible vista where you can see the Natural Bridges.
After you’ve ooh-ed and aah-ed at the amazing overlook, if you want to hike down to the bridge, go towards the right! You’ll descend down, until you reach the pathway onto the rocks.
It gets a bit narrow here, so walk carefully! You’ll come down even further, and you can walk all the way across the bridge if you want – but even if the narrow bridge is a little fear inducing, there’s a really nice, spacious place to sit down right before, so it’s worth the hike anyway!
You’ll have some amazing views of the rocky corridor, and it’s a great place to watch the sunset! Once you’re ready to go, you can continue on the bridge and come up on the other side – this will take you on the Natural Bridges Cove trail and back out to the parking lot. However, this way is even steeper, and it’s easier to go back the way you came!
Summary: How to Get to The Natural Bridges
Screenshot this incase you don’t have service once you get to Samuel H. Boardman State Park!
This is how to get to the Natural Bridges overlook:
- Begin at the Natural Bridges trailhead
- Take the path to the right of the parking lot
- Take a left at the first fork
- Take a left at the second fork
- Follow the trail to the overlook!
Then, to get to the bridge:
- Continue to the right
- Descend down to the bridge!
A Secret Overlook at Samuel H. Boardman State Park
While the Natural Bridges overlook is absolutely stunning, there’s no denying that it’s really popular. You won’t have much privacy – so if you have time, it’s so worth it to explore some of the other trails!
We found this spot by accident (AKA getting lost looking for the Natural Bridges), but we loved how quiet and secluded it was – we didn’t see a single other person there, not even on the trail along the way! So if you want a place that’s less traveled, and some amazing views you can have all to yourself, here’s how to get to another secret overlook near the Natural Bridges.
Go back to the parking lot (or, if you made that mental note earlier, go back to that spot).
From the parking lot, go right again. At the first fork, take the right instead! This will lead you away from the Natural Bridges, but towards a more private overlook. Continue on this trail, and stick to the left – there are a couple forks, so when you see them, take the left!
This trail is steep too, but it won’t be long before you arrive at this cliff over the ocean, with a stunning view that you’ll have all to yourself. There are some perfect hammocking trees, and it’s a great place for a picnic or to just relax for a bit.
Places to Stay Near Samuel H. Boardman State Park
Turn your beach day into a getaway! There are plenty of options near the coast.
Glamping, Cabins, & Yurts
You can even get $10 off your first booking here!
A Camper van
Find a Campsite
Whether you car camp, tent camp, or rent a tiny home on wheels, The Dyrt is the best way to find campsites! There are also options for free camping by the coast – for tips on finding the best ones, check out this guide.
An Ocean Front Home
Check out this map for places to stay near the Natural Bridges and Samuel H. Boardman State Park!
More Adventures Near the Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Park
Near this iconc spot, you’ll also find a secluded hidden gem – Secret Beach! Samuel H. Boardman State Park is also close to the border of California, so it’s a great starting point for a road trip along the California Coast! And if you’re looking for more amazing ocean scenery in Oregon, check out these adventures:
- The Best Hikes on the Oregon Coast
- The Best Hikes Near Cannon Beach
- Secluded Beaches on the Oregon Coast
- Oregon Coast Road Trip Itineraries
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