Cool Stuff II: Arch Cape
Published July 9, 2014 | By Shawna
Since I recently spent the long weekend in one of my favorite spots on the planet, I thought it time to share it with those of you who think Arch Cape is just another little green road sign between Cannon Beach and Manzanita.
Admittedly, that was all it was to me until I made the acquaintance of a wonderful couple who happen to own a historic cabin a short walk to the beach. I will be forever indebted to them, not only for many weekends of unparalleled hospitality and very fine Scotch, but for introducing me to one of the most magical places on Earth.
Arch Cape is so named for a natural stone arch hollowed out by the action of the sea. At low tide, you can walk under the arch, but know your tides! If you are on the wrong side of the arch when the tide comes in, you’ll have to scramble up the cliff and walk a couple miles down the road to return to your car or lodgings.
A bit further out is a natural monolith called Castle Rock, similar to the more famous Haystack Rock of Cannon Beach, but quite a bit smaller. Locals call her Queen Vic, an appellation given her by one of the first settlers to what is now Arch Cape, an English immigrant at the time that Victoria still sat on the throne. During winter storms, waves may overtop Vic, truly an impressive sight.
One of the marvels of Arch Cape is its solitude. During the off-season, you may well be the only one out on the beach. There are no big hotels, no shops, not even a grocery store, and, as of this writing, no restaurants or bars. (Plans are in place for one of the latter. The property has been bought and a chef hired, but the Orca Lounge still awaits permitting before it can get off the ground.) Bear in mind this means no public restrooms, so plan accordingly.
Narrow paths wind through native bushes from the town proper down to the beach, and it doesn’t take a writer’s sense of whimsy to imagine fantastical creatures hiding beneath the tangled growth. Many, if not most of the residences are owned by the occupants, which give the place a small town feel. The best illustration of the spirit of Arch Cape came a few trips ago during a solitary morning walk on the beach. A strange dog ran up to me and, without preamble, shoved a soggy tennis ball into my hand to throw. Because, of course, I had not brought a dog of my own, and so he felt the need to share his retrieving services for my entertainment.
An interesting historical note: the cannon for which Cannon Beach were named actually washed up in Arch Cape. It was one of the cannons from the Shark, a naval vessel that shipwrecked on a sandbar at a time when the border between the US and Canada was still in dispute. Two more cannons were discovered later, also at Arch Cape. They have been painstakingly restored and are now on display at a museum in Astoria. Arch Cape was originally called Cannon Beach, until the town just to the north stole the name. They also, arguably, stole the first cannon, but I’ll leave that story to someone else’s blog.
And on a literary note, Arch Cape makes a special guest appearance in Raven’s Wing, the sequel-in-progress to Ravensblood.
If you day trip, public access is down Leech Street off of US 101. I suggest you round off your trip by continuing south to Manzanita and having lunch or dinner at the Sand Dune Pub. Tasty pub food with generous portions at reasonable prices. There is outdoor seating in good weather, and well-behaved dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating.