Two weeks in Winchester Bay, Oregon…
Why we came…
To explore the Umpqua Bay region and hunt for shrooms!
Winchester Bay RV Resort is great. It sits on a man-made peninsula at the mouth of the Umpqua River, in a protected bay. The sites are all paved and fairly level. The sites were all big, but the RV pads were tight. Big motorhomes and Fifth-wheels had trouble fitting. Everything was well maintained and top notch. There were two very nice laundry and bath houses, and an impressive “Activity Center”. We had full hook-ups, good satellite, cable TV, and a reliable Verizon 4 bar LTE signal. Like most campgrounds, wi-fi was great until data hogs brought the system to a crawl.
Our site backed towards the ocean. Waves crashed against the jetty just 50 feet from our back window. A four day storm kicked our butts. Each day we got 40mph winds and a total of 4.1 inches of rain. The rockin’ trailer and loud driving rain made it difficult to sleep. That’s alright. We enjoy having front row seats to the Pacific’s impressive storms!
Overall, we were very comfortable and would gladly come back.
Aerial view of Winchester Bay
We really liked Winchester Bay RV Resort
Enjoying another glorious sunset
Winchester Bay, population 382 and elevation 23 feet, mostly exists to support fishing and tourists. The harbor is likely busy during prime fishing seasons, but was relatively quiet during our stay. There are a few restaurants, touristy stores, and a couple of small convenience stores. We enjoyed walking around Winchester Bay.
Reedsport, population 4,154 and elevation 10 feet, has two grocery stores, a small selection of restaurants, and a few services. It’s a pleasant, slow-paced town and we liked it.
The main supply center is North Bend and Coos Bay, roughly 20 miles south. The area has 250,000 people and has the stores and services you’d expect when that many people live somewhere.
Walks around Winchester Bay and Salmon Harbor…
Staying at Winchester Bay was like living in a fishing village. Arleen enjoyed the full mile route around the RV resort at least a few times a day. A main objective of each walk was to get a fishing report at the tip of the jetty.
The walking route possibilities were numerous. She walked around Salmon Harbor Marina, to the Sportmen’s Fish Market, and uphill to the Umpqua Lighthouse. We also walked to the post office/grocery store in town.
Each walk was different. We admired birds such as Canada geese and osprey. We could see lurking harbor seals. And we always paused near the favored fishing areas to see if anyone hooked a salmon. It was always different, changing with the weather or the colors of brilliant sunrises and sets.
Walk route around the harbor / Salmon Harbor in Winchester Bay
Watching the waves at Shore Acres…
We had been tracking the surf advisories for a few weeks. There was a storm on the horizon that would bring 4 inches of rain as well as surf swells to 20 feet!
One of the best places on the Oregon Coast to observe crashing waves is at Shore Acres State Park. “You can stroll down a trail to a secluded ocean cove at Simpson Beach or skirt the cliff's edge to see spectacular ocean vistas which often include towering waves crashing against the shoreline after a storm and migrating grey whales.”
We were here six years ago during a winter storm. We were impressed then but the breakers and sprays were even more impressive this time! They were epic!
It is a great place to visit during the winter. First, there is the ocean show and “from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve, the gardens are ablaze with thousands of colored lights and holiday decorations”.
Walk route at Shore Acres SP / Waves exploded a hundred feet into the air!
The power and beauty were incredible
Mother Nature put on an incredible display at Shore Acres
Dune and beach walk…
We started the afternoon by stopping at the Umpqua River Lighthouse. “The Lighthouse towers above the entrance to Winchester Bay. The 65-foot tower contains a distinctive lens which emits a red and white flash.”
Next, we walked in the sand dunes at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, south of Winchester Bay. “It constitutes one of the largest expanses of temperate coastal sand dunes in the world. The large oblique dunes found here occur nowhere else in the world. Stark, mist-shrouded views of dunes, forests, and ocean in such close proximity to one another are rare and somehow hauntingly beautiful.”
Congress set aside 31,500 acres for the Oregon Dunes NRA in 1972. The Umpqua dunes area is primarily for OHV users. However, the beach is closed to all but foot traffic.
While I climbed the 250 foot dunes, Arleen went for a walk on the beach. I was able to get some great pictures of ATVs and dirt bikes playing in the sand.
Finally, we went for an evening walk to look for mushrooms in the shore pines. We did not find any mushrooms but we had fun poking around on the beach near Winchester Bay.
Oregon Dunes walk route / Beach walk route
Nice view of the ocean from the dunes
Lots of motorheads play in the dunes
Walking along the beach is always interesting / Umpqua lighthouse from the beach
Felt like a kid in this drift wood fort
Another glorious evening on the Oregon coast!
Mushroom hunting adventures…
We had several successful mushroom hunts during our stay at Winchester Bay.
We found Chanterelles (Cantharellus) in a “Children’s Forest”. The trees “were planted in 1946 by school students during the First Lower Umpqua annual tree plant.”
This was a special place! First, we followed a trail along a power line that was overgrown. Off of this trail, we found other trails, barely perceptible.
We pushed through curtains of sword fern, salal, and blackberry bushes. The undergrowth opened to a “room” of second growth trees, 70 years old, surrounding massive cedar stumps. Each room was carpeted in several inches of moss.
As we poked around, we found several patches of chanterelles. The bright orange caps stood out against the contrasting moss.
Plus, we found a few bright colored Lobsters (Hypomyces lactifluorum). Lobsters are actually parasitic but they taste like their namesake crustacean and have a similar texture.
We also found our first Cauliflower Mushroom (Sparassis). We taste tested it that night. The next night we cooked it into a stroganoff. The mushroom was like tasty pasta! We’ll keep our eyes open for more of that!
We returned to the Children’s Forest twice and we only covered a small area of it. We never saw evidence that anyone else had been in there.
We also found chanties on a few other hikes in the Reedsport area. But in other areas, we felt like we were just getting leftovers. Even so, we filled our bag and with the rain we knew that the fruiting would continue.
However, we were not finding Porcini (Boletus edulis) mushrooms. I came up with a plan to find a few of those.
We like to find chanterelles growing through a tick carpet of moss
Lobster shrooms / Our first cauliflower shroom was excellent in stroganoff
We saw lots of bear sign but no bears / Sun rays on an old cedar stump
Kayak mushroom adventure…
The plan was to find some shore pines that were not easily accessible. Across Umpqua Bay, there is a spit that is a mix of dunes and forest. Most importantly, there is not any road access.
We launched our kayaks at the Salmon Harbor Marina and paddled into the river. The section of the river we had to cross is highly influenced by the tide. It was going against us both ways.
The landing on the beach was soft but tricky with waves throwing us towards shore and then sucking us back out. We had to paddle hard and then time the launch out of the kayak on the in-wave.
We walked for a while before we spotted the first porcini standing like a sentry in the moss. Its tan cap blended but the impressive height gave it away.
We found a basket of porcinis in that little grove of shore pines. Most caps were tan but a few were dark red like our Rocky Mountain Red (boletus rubriceps).
Deep in the woods, we found our first Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare). We carefully checked our mushroom guide to verify this treasured delicacy. They defiantly had a strong cinnamon and spice smell. We harvested just two. Arleen carefully prepared them and we had them as a hors d'oeuvre. They were unlike anything we have ever tasted and definitely a treat!
We did not see any sign that others had shroom hunted the area. We wanted to go back again, but the winds and tides did not work with us. We dreamt of the porcinis just waiting for us.
Kayak and mushroom hunting route
Tides made the paddling a bit tricky. The RV Resort is in the background.
Two beautiful king boletes…a fantastic find! / A basket full of kings
We are camped on the beach just south of Yachats, Oregon. Our next stops are Nehalem and Fort Stevens, Oregon. Then we make our way north to spend the winter on the Olympic Peninsula.
I fished the point off the RV park most evenings. Hooked five salmon and landed one 20-25lb king salmon. / The Coast Guard trains regularly in the bay.
Elk and a white egret at the Dean Creek Wildlife Area
Cairns along the jetty at sunset