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Florence is a city on the Central Oregon Coast about an hour’s drive west of Eugene.  The Siuslaw River flows from the coastal mountains of the Siuslaw National Forest through the southern part of Florence and into the Pacific.  Just south of the Siuslaw River is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America.  Florence has hosted the Rhododendron Festival on the third weekend of May for over 100 years.  Florence has several phenomenal campgrounds in the area, but also several hotels, restaurants, cafes, and shops for such a small city.
“There are so many fantastic options for trail runs around Florence, it’s hard to choose– there really are a dozen places within 5-15 minutes drive where you could run for hours,”  says Daybreak Racing’s Jeremy Long, who also grew up in Florence. “Florence is a great trail running area because of its amazing biodiversity, mild climate, and lightly used trails and beaches. A route can literally traverse the deep forest, lakes, creeks, rivers and ocean beaches all in less than a few miles, often without seeing any other people, and almost always in the 45-65F range year-round.”
“The trails here are different than you find in the rest of the Northwest,” says Chris Johnson, Athletic Director and Track and Cross Country coach at Siuslaw High School.  “You are running on different materials.  Its sand-based, so in the summer it’s soft.  As the trails get wet, it just gets hard, not muddy for super good footing for 11 months of the year.  Will Kimball, who used to run for Oregon, drives an hour to Florence from Eugene every time he visits.  The trails here are really that special.”

Chris Johnson leads a pack of runners on the Tahkenitch trail

Florence Trail Runs

Sutton Trails – The closest trail network to town is a few minutes north.  “That Sutton Trail System is great for a solid 4-8 mile loop run on rolling hills through shore pine and rhododendron forest, with a little bit of sandy trail thrown in,”  states Long.  “There are really beautiful trails along Sutton Creek,” claims Johnson.

 

The biodiversity of the coastal forests is amazing around Florence

 

Cape Mountain – Another 10 minutes north of Florence are the Cape Mountain trail network and Heceta Head/Washburne State Park trail network that is mostly forested with some amazing ocean views.

Oregon Dunes – South of Florence lies the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area.  “My favorite trails there are the Tahkenitch area trails, which we use for the Siuslaw Dunes 50K and 25K,” says Long.  “They’re all incredible trails where you can really spend all day going anywhere from 5-20+ miles if you wanted to connect them all.”

Kentucky Falls – Located on the North Fork of the Smith River and Kentucky Creek in the Siuslaw National Forest, Kentucky Falls is a challenging way to get a long run amongst the trees, fauna, and creeks of the forest.

Florence Trail Races

Siuslaw Dunes 25k and 50k – “Fun and challenging are two very accurate descriptors of the event! When planning this one, we very intentionally wanted an early-season timeframe so people could come race without the “A” race pressure and just run a low key but organized race in a diverse, beautiful area of the Oregon Coast with friends,” exclaims Long.  “The dunes are obviously the most challenging aspect of the course, but the challenge is the reason we all pursue these adventures after all! The event is dog-friendly and the setting at Honeyman State Park is just so, so exciting and fun– a very reminiscent place for many people…because who doesn’t have childhood memories of camping, swimming and playing on the dunes at Honeyman as a kid?”

 

The day-use area on Cleawox Lake in Honeyman State Park is the start and finish of the Siuslaw Dunes Trail Race

 

Oregon Coast 20 mile and 5ok –  Just up Highway 101 in Yachats, this classic race from Rainshadow Running uses the beach and trails of Cape Perpetua.

Perpetua Fat Ass – Ardor Adventures hosts this fun run and pot luck.  Pick from 50K, 30K, 20K & 10K distances.

Sunset Bay Trail Runs – 1/2 Marathon, 15K, 4-Mile trail runs located south of Florence in Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay.

 

Running on the dunes is a different type of challenge than traditional trail running.

 

Florence Area Trail Running Groups

Florence is a small community but has some groups of active runners. There’s a Facebook group called Runners Of Florence that has many group runs throughout the year. Run Hub out of Eugene will also schedule trail runs in Florence.

South Coast Running Club is based out of Coos Bay just south of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and hosts a weekly run around the area.

Coffee

River Roasters – This local coffee place is located right next to the Siuslaw River Bridge on Bay Street in Old Town Florence. River Roasters does its own roasting and has been a mainstay of Florence locals and visitors for a long time.

Old Town Coffee Roasters – A quaint coffee roaster also located in Old Town.

Ocean Grinds Coffee – Located on Highway 101, Ocean Grinds serves organic, fair-trade espresso. and food options like biscuits & gravy and breakfast burritos.

Brewpubs/Restaurants

Darlings Marina Resort – Get a drink at the onsite craft pub with a great view of the lake.  “They have great beers and salads,” says Johnson.  “Darlings is a great place to relax after a run in Oregon Dunes .”

Beachcomber Pub – Located on Bay St. in the heart of Florence, Beachcomber has 20 beers on tap and great Mexican food along with the regular pub fare.
Homegrown Public House –  Homegrown just started brewing its own beers, but it’s mainly known for its coastal pub menu of seafood, salads, and burgers.