Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Crook Point - Mack Arch

 PISTOL RIVER STATE PARK OREGON
I have explored the Oregon Coast extensively…even collected sand from over 250 beaches from the mouth of the Columbia to the California border. But even with all I have seen and explored of the coast, there was still a four-mile section of the southern coast I had not seen…Crook Point.
Crook Point is a small, but spectacular, headland jutting out into the Pacific and is located halfway between Gold Beach, and Brookings. The point is bordered to the north by the Pistol River State Park, and Samuel Boardman State Park to the south.



Crook Point adjoins the Mack Reef Unit of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The adjacent rocks and islands host the second largest concentration of nesting seabirds in Oregon, with over 200,000 birds present from April through September. The headland contains rare native plants, unique geologic formations, one mile of undisturbed shoreline with extensively rocky intertidal areas, and a small stream containing native cutthroat trout.

The south portion of the point is privately own, and public access to the publicly owned beaches does not exist, unless you reach them by boat, or by air...or by permission The Crook Family has owned 200 plus acres of this small promontory and has passed ownership down now for generations. The actual headland is a wildlife refuge and closed to public access as well.
Late this summer, I met a member of the Crook Family. I was invited to visit and collect the sand I needed to complete my entire Oregon Coast collection. I arrived mid-morning to an impressive view from the backyard like no other. Sitting just off the shore of the southern flank of the cape, sits Mack Arch. The arch dominated the scenery. Mack Arch, also known to the locals as Arch Rock. The arch holds the title of being the largest natural arch on the Pacific Coast. Large charter boats and even a small plane could float or fly through it, (I wouldn’t recommend flying through it though). The arch holds such an impressive title, but it is rarely visible to the general public and tourist enthusiasts. Private property and fog are the reasons behind its obscure viewing opportunity. Another reason we can’t see the arch from Hwy 101, is that the opening of the arch is in a north to south direction. Most of Oregon’s arch openings are east to west. For being such a small point, the terrain was very diverse and complex. The north side features rolling dunes and beach grass, with scattered wind sculpted Shore Pines, a rocky cliffline and off shore basalt rocks are scattered about. The actual point is very barren, wind stripped of all topsoil, leaving the resemblance of a harsh desert environment, appearing to be void of life.

The south side is densely forested, mostly of Sitka Spruce, and five to six foot Sword Ferns. Thick layers of silent fog often shroud the southern side, while the northern side bakes in the sun, and winds torture the land.



The beautiful sunny fall day made for great photo opportunities. I collected my sand from five different sites along the point, and took advantage of being so close to this incredible nature wonder.
Harbor Seals, Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers, common Gulls and Murres call this landscape home. Seaweed beds on the south side feed the allusive Sea Otter. While out on the actual point I noticed a young man, who I later learned works for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department. He was out collecting raccoon traps that were placed on the offshore rock islands to prevent the raccoon from stealing bird eggs. Upon his return to the main shore, he twisted his knee. It was bad. I offered to carry his equipment out for him. This allowed me legal access to the top of the point...(aka-the wildlife refuge), for additional photo opportunities. We slowly made it up the steep cliff, to the high flat barren point, where his government truck was parked. Within our conversation we discovered that he and his wife and I attended the same college…but not at the same time…I had graduated from WBC, years before them. What a small world. I felt privileged to receive access to such a beautiful “rarely explored” diverse landscape. The contract between the dry, windy land to the north, the wet, and foggy land to the south, the offshore rocks and Mack Arch to the west, and the basalt grassy/forested farmland hills to the east makes Crook Point a destination not to be missed…just make sure to get permission first
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The Crook family has vacation rentals available to those who want a great retreat location destination. Anyone staying at any of their vacation rentals are given access to the beach even in front of the Mack Arch Wildlife Reserve.


For information and reservations for Crook Point rentals, check out- southcoastvacationrentals.com

1 comment:

coymon4 said...

Hi, my mom Jane, pointed me to your site. Love the pix of Crook Point. I was there in May, I think, and it was so foggy I could barely see any of those rocks, and would have never guessed there was an arch formation, if someone hadn't told me. You could see my pix, if you want, here: http://homegrownyogini.spaces.live.com/photos/cns!D673C7B5A3C3645B!504/
it was lovely in spring, even though the scenery was quite different!