Bob Straub State Park, in Pacific City, Oregon, features excellent year-round horseback riding. The park lies on the Nestucca Spit, a narrow finger of land that separates Nestucca Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The park is open only to hiking, fishing, and horseback riding, and it’s a delightful place to ride.
Distance: 7.5-mile round trip around Nestucca Spit, plus additional trails through the dunes
Elevation: Sea level
At Bob Straub State Park, you can ride along the beach and beside Nestucca Bay, entirely circling the spit. Or you can create your own loops by following the trails that crisscross the dunes. Some of the dunes trails may be submerged during high water in winter, but you can ride the beach and the shore of Nestucca Bay year round.
The Back Story
This beautiful part of the Oregon coast was very nearly paved over in the 1960s. You’ve probably noticed that Highway 101 runs inland from Neskowin to Tillamook, so highway travelers don’t see the ocean for about 30 miles. Back in the 1960s, the Highway Department decided to make the highway more scenic by moving it closer to the beach – routing it right up the middle of the Nestucca Spit.
Oregon’s then-Secretary of State (and later Oregon Governor) Bob Straub was a frequent visitor to the area. He strenuously objected to the highway plan. While continuing to serve as Secretary to State, Straub campaigned against moving the highway. He reportedly wrote hundreds of letters and memos, carried a signature petition around with him, and organized marches and other events.
At some point, Straub learned that the State of Oregon had been given the land by the Bureau of Land Management with the stipulation that it would become a park. He contacted the Secretary of the Interior, who threatened to sue the State for breach of contract. The Highway Department quickly abandoned its plan to route the highway on the Nestucca Spit. Later, when the state park was created, it was named in honor of the man who had fought to keep it a wild and peaceful place.
Bob Straub State Park is unique in that fishing, hiking, and horseback riding are the only permitted activities. No camping, no OHVs, no bikes. It’s a quiet, peaceful place to enjoy the Oregon Coast with your horse. Don’t miss it!
From Tillamook, drive south on Hwy. 101 for 25 miles. Turn west on Brooten Road toward Pacific City. Drive 2.7 miles to the town of Pacific City and turn west on Pacific Avenue. Continue 0.2 mile and turn left on Sunset Avenue, the first street after you cross the Nestucca River. Drive 0.4 mile and turn left into the parking and boat-launching area.
The closest horse camping is at Nehalem Bay State Park.
You’ll find more information about the trails at Bob Straub State Park in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.
Reprinted with permission from Northwest Rider Magazine, February 2018.