Armchair photo tours: ​Kilchis Point Reserve

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Photos by Cheryl Landes

The Kilchis Point Reserve is among the newest conservation lands on the Oregon Coast. Located in Bay City, six miles north of Tillamook, the 200-acre preserve consists of forests and wetlands with views of Tillamook Bay. Two miles of mostly flat trails form two connected loops with an extension ending at the Caitlin Heusser Bird Watching Station, a gazebo overlooking the bay.

In 2010, the Tillamook County Commissioners declared the reserve as a County Heritage Site. The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum owns and maintains the land.

Kilchis Point is rich in wildlife, plants, and history. Pacific tree frogs, newts, bobcats, black-tailed deer, raccoons, Douglas squirrels, black bears, garter snakes, and 56 species of fish are a few of the animals living in the reserve. Birds include woodpeckers, jays, hooded merganser, wrens, chickadees, hummingbirds, owls, thrushes, gulls, herons, and egrets. Brown pelicans, osprey, and willow flycatchers migrate along the Pacific Flyway and stop at Tillamook Bay. Ferns, ferry slipper orchids, trilliums, western red cedar, and Douglas firs are just a few of the plants growing here.

The point was one of the largest permanent Native American villages on the northern Oregon Coast. When Joe Champion, the first pioneer settler, arrived in 1851, Chief Kilchis invited him to live in a spruce stump next to the village until he built a cabin. The Morning Star, the first ship built in the county and registered in the Oregon Territory, was built here. And from 1919 until 1927, the point was the headquarters of the Whitney Lumber Company.

Seventeen interpretive markers throughout the reserve provide information about the plant and animal life, along with the history of Kilchis Point.

The one-third-mile Trailhead Loop, the loop trail nearest the parking lot, is ADA accessible with a paved trail and short boardwalk. The rest of the trails are a combination of gravel, dirt, and boardwalks.

If you want to go to the birdwatching station but can’t walk there and back, call the Pioneer Museum at (503) 842-4553 to schedule a trip on the Mike, a modified golf cart. Sometimes rides on the Mike are suspended because of muddy trails, so plan ahead.

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