Each of these trails offer unique beauty, physical challenges and rewards at the end and along the way. In reading online about each of them I had to laugh a little, because I see that Oregon Parks thinks the South Trail is "easy." It is down hill one way and does provide significant switch backs, but every time I go down there I am with kids and they ALWAYS run and take short cuts, which really aren't what they seem. They are straight up and require far more exertion than staying on the designated trail. I recommend staying on the trail to prevent future slides and trail erosion, and jogging down, then making every attempt to jog/run back up, which is, in my opinion, a great workout. Sky is the limit here! Pick a trail! Walk, jog, run, carry a loaded back pack, or a child (on your back, if they refuse to walk!)
Really, anything you do here will be worth while. Sunday evenings and week day mornings are a great time to hit these trails in the Summer months and in the off season (Labor Day through Memorial Day) you can pretty much have this place to yourself. The ups and downs of the trails offer a great workout -- again, jogging, running, walking, lunging, whatever makes sense for your body and the conditions that day. When it's raining the South trail seems to stay the driest, but the West and North trail can get quite muddy (bring a box or a bag for your muddy shoes and something to change into if you care about the condition of your car when you return!) The North trail I feel is best done with a start point in the camp ground (so it is downhill on the way back to your car), but keep in mind you have to pay to park if you do it this way. It's free to park in the lot at the top where the three trail heads meet.
Pacific City Dune Climb
Off to the right side of this photo is the dune at the North end of the beach in Pacific City. I don't know it's actual height, but it is enormous and when you are trying to walk straight up it you feel like you will never reach the top! As if ascending once isn't enough, climbing this mammoth dune several times in an hour is a killer. You should break it up in 30 second intervals to get the biggest gains and calorie burn. Walk/climb steady and hard for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat over and over again until you get to the top. Take a longer rest once you get there and soak up the view, then head back down and repeat as many times as you'd like, or dislike. If you are planning to drink beer in the Pelican pub when you're done you might want to do it a couple of extra times! Or, skip the beer and relish in the gains you made that day! You'll go to bed that night and thank yourself I promise!
Soft Sand Cross Training
This is my all time favorite workout that would be pretty much impossible if I didn't live near the beach. When I first moved here 10 years ago I was a runner. I ran on the beach (in the hard sand) 4-5 days a week between Netarts and Oceanside. I also lifted weights at the local YMCA. Even though I was running on the sand (not pavement), I was constantly fighting injury. In an attempt to figure out something different, and possibly more effective I had the thought that we should be working out (cross training) in the soft sand at the beach -- that it would be more fun and better for our bodies (less impact). This quickly evolved into what we now call beach boot camp, and in my opinion has produced collective gains far beyond all of my years of running. There are three of us committed to it this Summer. We meet three times per week. Required equipment: None, though we each have our own tire (free used tires from Les Schwab) and we wear gloves to protect our hands. We use the tires for shoulder presses and as extra weight for a variety of different things. Cross training on the beach will require you to come up with a circuit, or a series of exercises to complete while you are there, but truthfully, anything you do in the soft sand is an unbelievable workout -- Basic things, like burpees, jumping jacks, short sprints, planking, long jumps, running backwards, lunges, etc. are all effective.
Here's why it all works: Soft sand absorbs 100% of the force you apply to it and gives back very little. Great for the joints, crushing to calories. Just walking in soft sand is a difficult task. Running and jumping feels near impossible. Your body is forced to compensate with the core strength it has, and over time that core becomes very strong and capable to do pretty much anything you want it to do. Endurance and strength improves quickly and significantly. Shifting sand beneath your feet forces the body to rethink and compensate starting a virtual fire in your core. It is a full body workout. In comparison, if you were cross training on a hard surface (like a gym floor, grass, or turf) when you apply force to it you get it all back -- like a trampoline, which makes acceleration and changing directions much easier and predictable. Our bodies and muscles are used to hard surfaces. They probably get quite bored doing the same things all the time. If your workouts are boring you, or you just aren't getting the results you hoped for move them to the beach.
You will either love, or hate this workout. There doesn't seem to be a grey area. It is extreme, but the beach atmosphere, endorphins, and body changes that result are the ultimate reward.
Just 25 miles from Tillamook on Hwy 6, King's Mountain offers a fantastic terrain for those in search of a fun, alternative workout. This trail is somewhat rugged (rocky and mostly dirt, a little gravel near the top) and offers a 2,500 foot elevation gain and is approximately 5 miles round trip. The last quarter mile is my least favorite part, as the incline increases and the hiking surface offers less traction -- just as my quads are telling me they can't do anymore they have to if they want to reach the top! The good news is when you get to this part of the trail you know the reward (the view) will be worth the effort. One caveat: There are no guarantees for visibility. In my adventures on this trail I have experienced snow (which was very cold because I wasn't fully prepared, but lovely), dense fog (which meant no view at all, but the forest on the way up was drop dead gorgeous), drizzle, heavy rain, as well as full sun and heat (be sure to bring plenty of water.) This hike is worth doing more than once -- each time during a different time of the year to experience the seasons and the distinct changes in the forest and weather.
Surfing, or Body Boarding
Whether, or not you own surf boards, or body boards, waves and current offer a source of great resistance. Entering the ocean for any of these purposes does require gear, so if you don't at a minimum have a wetsuit, this may not be the workout for you. If you are interested in buying some, you can get them new for as little as $150, which I think is very fair and is a great investment if you plan on spending time on the coast. Water temps, even during the Summer months can be in the lower 50's, which is by no means suitable for bare skin for longer than 4-5 minutes. Another possibility if you don't have the right gear is to sign up for a surf lesson and rent the gear you need from the surf shop -- like Moment Surf Co. in Pacific City. Just bring yourself and a positive attitude and let them do the rest. Surfing for 2-3 hours (or learning to surf) is an incredible full body workout. Fighting incoming waves, duck diving, regulating your body temperature, holding your breath, managing your board, paddling to the surf zone, catching the waves, getting your feet under you, balancing your body weight, standing up on the board, etc. You will walk away from this experience feeling like you killed it out there! It's amazing how much energy and core strength it takes to go from your belly to your feet in just one movement -- and that's after you paddled yourself out to the waves on your surf board.
If you don't feel up to surfing, body boarding is also challenging and fun. Just getting yourself around in the waves uses a ton of energy. The ocean is a constant force, pushing and pulling you in every direction. It really never gives you a break! Something to keep in mind: If you are going to use the ocean as a medium for workouts be smart about it. Know the tides, know the water temperature, know the direction of the current and know how to spot a rip current and what to do if you get caught in one. If you don't know how to figure this stuff out ask someone that does. Never go in the ocean alone deeper than your knees and always keep your eyes facing the water. I LOVE the ocean and will take any opportunity I have to get in it, but I certainly don't want to be injured, or die out there. If it doesn't look safe it probably isn't. Trust your gut and just come back another day!
Ready to spend more time at the beach so you can do some, or all of these workouts? I can help! Change your pace. Change your life.
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See you at the beach!