Nehalem Bay Estuary: A Treasure To Behold

A place where the waters of the Pacific Ocean mix with the river waters of the Coast Range – an estuary. Tillamook County boasts five of them, and Manzanita is neighbor to the northern most estuary in the county, Nehalem Bay. The Nehalem River estuary is located on the Oregon coast at Nehalem. The estuary is approximately 2749 acres in area and has a watershed of approximately 855 square miles. This special place is vital to a myriad of critters, plants, and organisms that rely on this unique environment for food and shelter.

Nehalem Bay, and other estuaries are not only special to the animals, but to us people as well. The outdoor opportunities in and around Nehalem Bay and the nearby community are countless. Locally referred to as the three villages, Manzanita, Nehalem, and Wheeler, each have a unique feel and all call the Nehalem Bay Valley ‘home’. Nehalem Bay hosts three marinas, each equipped for crabbing, boating, and fishing, Nehalem Bay State Park with campsites close to the bay and ocean, walking/bike trails, birding, and of course it is part of the Tillamook County Water Trail System – a National Recreation Trail. The non-motorized paddling is exquisite for canoes, SUPs and kayaks.

The Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP)has the mission of conserving and restoring all five estuaries in their entirety in Tillamook County, Nehalem Bay included. As part of TEP’s Education Program, they have facilitated this community project, the Tillamook County Water Trail (TWCT), and produced maps/guidebooks for all five estuaries to highlight paddling opportunities, safety, public access, and offer insights to the importance of our local natural resources which is what makes this area so special.

Julie Chick – Former Watertrail Coordinator, TEP
For more information and to find the TCWT maps in pdf form or as an interactive map go to:

Dan Haag
Born and raised in the great white north of Minnesota, Dan Haag felt the pull of the north Oregon Coast in the early 90s. Finding that rain never needed to be shoveled, he married an Oregon girl and settled in Manzanita, where he works as director of the Manzanita Visitors Center. He is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a variety of state and national publications. He spends his free time wandering the area’s many trails, supporting the Oregon wine and beer industry, perusing coastal bookstores, and chasing his black Labrador, Lilo, along the beach.