Hiking Tour of the Oregon Coast
Traverse rainforest, discover picture perfect ocean views or trek through an otherworldly landscape of seemingly endless giant sand dunes. Hikers will discover astonishing opportunities to explore the natural wonders of the Oregon Coast on trails in State Parks from one end of the state to the other.
There are many options, but for hikers who want to explore the entire length of Oregon’s coastline in a single trip, I offer the following hiking itinerary. Most of these locations are easily accessible and offer rewarding hikes that can be completed in a few hours. I’ve mixed in a few other must-stop locations and suggest you plan on at least two weeks to do the entire length of the coast and do justice to the remarkable terrain you will discover.
Here’s my ideal hikers’ tour from north to south:
Ecola State Park: Hike from the viewpoint to Indian Beach or go further north on this portion of the Oregon Coast trail to a hiker’s camp and Tillamook Rock Lighthouse viewpoint.
Oswald West State Park: Offers many great trails. My favorite is the Cape Falcon trail. There’s also a short, easy trail to Short Sand Beach or try the Elk Flats trail to Devils Cauldron.
From here, I would make tracks for the Three Capes Scenic Route southwest of Tillamook, which includes:
Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint: Views are amazing along the short walk to the lighthouse. Check out the short trail to the Octopus Tree too.
Cape Lookout State Park: Explore the long stretch of beach or hike to the end of the cape.
Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area: A busy beach, but it’s worth a stop and a climb to the sand dune for the views from the top of the cape.
From here, you rejoin Coast Highway 101 near Pacific City.
Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area: Mainly a viewpoint, but definitely a must stop.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area: Mainly a viewpoint, but again, a must stop with a beautiful lighthouse. Time your visit for low tide and descend the stairs to one of Oregon’s best tide pool areas.
Seal Rock State Recreation Site: Again, mainly a viewpoint with a paved trail above rock formations and beach access.
Cape Perpetua Scenic Area: Some of the best hiking on the coast with 26 miles of hiking trails along the coast, through rainforest and to the top of the cape. The ocean views along the Captain Cook Trail between Spouting Horn and Devils Churn are some of the best on the coast.
Heceta Head State Park: The half-mile trail to the lighthouse offers great views, though you can hike for miles along a section of the Oregon Coast Trail.
John Dellenback Dunes Trail: This trail south of Reedsport, near Eel Creek Campground, leads to an inspiring landscape of sand dunes. This area is set-aside for hikers – no ATVs allowed.
Cape Arago: Three State Parks southwest of Coos Bay, near Charleston are connected by hiking trails. Hike the whole thing or just enjoy the great viewpoints along the way including Sunset Bay State Park, Shore Acres State Park, Simpson Reef overlook (you’ll know you’re there when you hear the barking of the sea lions just offshore) and Cape Arago State Park.
Bandon: If I could do one beach hike on the Oregon Coast, it would be the beach at Bandon from Coquille Point in the north, just about as far as you would want to go to the south. The rock formations at Bandon are some of the most scenic on the entire coast.
Cape Blanco State Park: Great for a short stop for the views and the lighthouse, but there are trails from here too.
Humbug Mountain State Park: Hiking trails circle and climb to the top of the 1756-foot mountain right at the edge of the shoreline.
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor: This is another of the most spectacular stretches of the Oregon Coast Trail, offering 12 miles of scenic trails. There are several viewpoints that are awesome and offer access to the trail where you can do shorter portions. The trail is not well marked in some areas, but it’s impossible to get lost since the Coast Highway borders you to the east.
About the Author: Gary Hayes
Gary Hayes is publisher of Coast Explorer Magazine and founder of Pelican Productions, Inc, a travel media and marketing company based in Seaside. Gary is a native Oregonian whose earliest memories include working on his grandfather’s fishing boat on the Oregon Coast. An extensively published photographer, Gary now lives in Cannon Beach and loves exploring the Northwest’s dramatic landscapes and capturing its natural wonders. He does clean up nicely though and he may also be found sampling Northwest wines and fine regional cuisine at every opportunity. He is a food and wine writer and is the Executive Director of the SavorNW Wine Awards.
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