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Where bait shops outnumber boutiques ... back-road touring on the Oregon coast.

The undulating coastline near Tillamook is one of only two spots on the Oregon coast where U.S. 101 deviates from its shoreline-hugging route. But this rugged setting is far from inaccessible: narrow, winding roads perfect for a leisurely drive or spectacular bike ride--shoot off to headlands, beaches, and small towns. Head west at turnoffs (to Cape Meares at the north end, Pacific City at the south) to explore the area known as Three Capes. Here, the dramatic landscape is the main event; in the towns you'll find that bait shops still outnumber boutiques. Not that it's untrammeled. Oceanside and Pacific City hop in July and August, when reservations are a must if you want a room. But if June's fickle weather doesn't bother you, visit now and beat the crowds. Outdoors: hike to beaches, climb dunes, watch tufted puffins, ride bikes State parks at the capes each have a variety of trails. At Cape Meares, try a forest-to-beach walk, 3 miles one way. (If you don't want to backtrack, leave a shuttle car in the parking area in the town of Cape Meares on the cape's north side.) From the park entrance, follow signs to Octopus Tree trailhead; walk 1/2 mile to this aptly named sprawling spruce. The trail continues another 2 miles, passing the cape's decommissioned lighthouse, winding in and out of forest to the rock strewn beach. Walk another 1/2 mile to the parking area and your shuttle car. At Ca e Lookout, a 2-mile trail starts at the cape's summit, switchbacks down its south side, and ends at a secluded beach. Plan to reach the water at low tide to explore rich tidepools protected from prevailing north winds. For a less rigorous hike 21/2 miles one way), begin at the same trailhead but go straight when the beach trail veers left; you'll wind through forest and along cliffs to the point's tip. For pure fun, head to Pacific City and climb the 125-foot sand dune on the south side of Cape Kiwanda. The rocks off capes Meares and Kiwanda are national wildlife refuges. Although it has no designated bike lanes, the road between Meares and Kiwanda is part of the Oregon Coast Bike Route. For a 17-mile loop, ride south from Oceanside to Netarts. Take Netarts Highway inland to Three Capes Scenic Route; bear left and follow it along Tillamook Bay, then over the headlands back to Oceanside. Indoors: motels, B & Bs, choice cafes Of several ocean-view lodgings in the Three Capes area, one good choice is 15room House on the Hill (503/842-6030), a motel in Oceanside. Though furnishings are uninspired, the setting makes up for it: the motel perches on a cliff above town, overlooking aptly named Three Arch Rocks. Rooms cost $60 to $70; get one with a kitchenette and bring your own food (there are no grocery stores in town and only one cafe). If you do head out to eat, try Roseanna's Cafe (842-7351), featuring seafood entrees and baked goods and desserts. The cafe serves three meals a day in summer; expect a wait on weekends, Another motel-style option is Sea Haven Inn, just south of town. Six of the nine rooms have ocean views; price ($55 to $75) includes a generous breakfast, served family-style. Call (800) 447-9708. Three Capes B & B in Oceanside, halfway up the road to House on the Hill has a gorgeous ocean view, particularly from the dining room. Its two rooms ($55 and $60, both with private baths) are decorated in a contemporary country style; call 842-6126. Whiskey Creek B & B, south of Netarts, has a woodsy bayside setting and a contemporary feel nurtured by its artist-proprietor (two rooms with shared bath, $50; one with a private, $75). Call 842-2408. Sandlake Country Inn, a former 1894 cedar-shingled farmhouse built from shipwreck-salvaged timbers, has a guest room ($60) and four-room honeymoon suite ($75), both with private baths; 965-6745. Pacific View B & B, in Pacific City, offers three rooms ($45 to $55, one with private bath) in a family home; 965-6498. Pacific City has a handful of eateries; most tend toward deli fare and fast food. The Riverhouse (965-6722) is a pleasant departure; this 11-table hole-in-the-wall alongside the Nestucca River serves food that is rich but tasty and fresh. Lunch and dinner are served daily in summer; concerts of acoustic music are held Saturdays after dinner. El
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Date:Jun 1, 1990
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