Just a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean is a magical place of enchantment. Or at least it feels this way when you are walking the trails of the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve just in from the coast of Charleston, OR.

The South Slough is a 5,000 acre natural area full of serenity and splendor. It has an expansive trail system that is accessible to all levels of hikers and covers many distances. You may come many times and very unintentionally take a different route each time.  For beginners or those with little hikers, there is the “10-Minute” trail which keeps you close enough to the interpretive center to not get lost but far enough away to tune into your senses and hopefully catch a glimpse of a butterfly or see a slimy newt cross your path.  Be sure to pick up a trail map at the interpretive center as you head out.

The trails are well groomed and clearly marked. Dogs are welcome but keep them leashed and pick up their waste. The “North Creek” trail is a dog-free zone and is your best chance for spotting wildlife. It is a rather long hike down switchbacks that follow the creek down to the bay. 

Following the wooden bridges to the tree house.

Following the wooden bridges to the tree house.

A tuned ear will be able to identify the abundance of birds living in the South Slough. Ospreys and hawks are commonly seen on hikes along with a variety of perching birds and the quick flight hummingbird.  You may also see a bushy tailed squirrel jumping through the trees or a wood snail slowly making its way across a bridge.

Be sure to check in at the interpretive center for any upcoming events and hands on learning. The South Slough offers a host of educational and volunteer opportunities for all ages and skill levels. Once a month is Tide of the Toddlers, which is a themed educational and art lesson for ages 1-5; there are movie nights, science camps for school aged children, and kayaking. These are just a sample of what is offered which is all detailed in the monthly newsletter.

The South Slough is an easy drive from anywhere in Coos County. It is on Seven Devils Road. Follow 101 to Seven Devils Road (just north of Bandon) and follow the signs. Or if you are coming from Coos Bay take the Charleston HWY through Charleston and turn east on Seven Devils Road.

You will discover something new with each visit that will keep you coming back.

For more information about the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve click here.

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