Cape Lookout Whale Hike

April 14, 2011 (Updated March 15, 2012)

There’s a whale of a wildlife show along the Oregon coast at a place that requires you hike the extra mile – the Cape Lookout State Park Trail lures you along with splendid scenery at every turn with moments of wonder and surprise and sights that are simply breathtaking.

The trail courses the full length of the cape and while it is fairly flat there is a slight gradient drop which means it’s slightly uphill all the back out to the parking area. It’s a five mile round trip and you should allow up to four hours of hiking to complete the entire trip. It is also muddy in spots and marked by steep drop-offs.

Each spring, the trail is flanked by one of the most prolific stretches of blooming trillium you’ll ever see. Many other colorful wildflower species are also at hand in a forest of old growth fir, spruce, and hemlock trees.

Along the way, be sure to keep the binoculars easy to reach and ready for anything. On our adventure, we spied eagles, lounging harbor seals and thousands of murres, (a common sea bird) floating on the ocean surface far below.

At end of the line, you will discover why many call Cape Lookout the “best seat of the house” to watch the gray whale parade that goes past Oregon’s shores each spring. There is no other experience along the Oregon coastline quite like this for whale watching; not only are the giants of the deep passing by seemingly just out of reach – but many of the 60-foot long mammals detour around the cape’s southern flanks where they lounge about, resting and feeding before continuing their ten thousand mile journeys.

Gray whales left warm Baja lagoons weeks ago and now they are bound for the cold, productive waters of Alaska’s Bering Sea. Here’s a hint that may help you to find the whales faster too: scan the ocean with your naked eye, looking for the tell tale blow. Once you see that, focus in with binoculars to get a good close up look.

Gray whales swim up to one hundred miles a day and most rarely stop to rest so hurry to the coast and especially Cape Lookout and do it soon before their show is gone.

About The

Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.