Editor’s note: As of Feb. 12, 2020, Ecola State Park is closed until further notice south of Indian Beach Day Use Area due to recent landslides that damaged the park entrance road. For more information, visit Oregon State Parks.
The trails in western Oregon are abundant, but some better offer the sights of of Oregon’s beautifully rugged coastline. A high point on a trail where I can see for miles always makes the climb worth it, and that endless view of ocean on the horizon is the ultimate lookout point. We spent a weekend exploring our favorite North Coast trail runs and tacking on the best places to eat, drink and relax after a run.
Mileage: 5.2 miles round-trip
Elevation gain: 1,900 feet
Trailhead: Saddle Mountain Trailhead
The trail to Saddle Mountain is a climb through forest leading to beautiful open meadows that bloom with wildflowers in the spring and summer. Near the summit the terrain becomes loose gravel and there are plenty of traction devices laid out for runners and hikers.
At the summit, where you have 360-degree views, look to the north and check out one of the few places you can see the outline of the state of Oregon shaped by the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
Pro tip: Make sure to take the quick side trail to Humbug Mountain along the way up to Saddle Mountain.
Post-run fuel: Public Coast Brewing in Cannon Beach is the perfect dinner spot after Saddle Mountain, with great food, beer and occasional live music.
Tillamook Head Trail
Mileage: 12.6 miles out and back / 6.3 miles point to point
Elevation: 13,50 feet
Trailhead: Indian Beach Trailhead
This is my favorite section of trail on the Oregon Coast filled with rolling hills, single track and numerous views of the great big blue Pacific along the way. You can run as a point to point to from Indian Beach to Seaside if you set up a car shuttle or make it an out and back.
Pro tips: Add on another 1.3 miles each way by starting from Cannon Beach and taking Ecola Park Road to Crescent Beach Trail.
Pre-run fuel: Insomnia Coffee in Cannon Beach will get you ready for the early-morning run.
Mileage: 8 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 1,991 feet
This is our favorite viewpoint on the Oregon Coast. You will make your way through low-lying forested trails on the west side of the 101 and gradually work your way up to Devils Cauldron, which is worth a stop. Cross over the 101 at the North Neahkahnie Trailhead and then head up switchbacks into a sitka spruce forest before reaching the rocky scramble to the summit.
Modification: For a 5-mile out-and-back route, begin at the Neahkahnie North Trailhead.
Post-run fuel: Bread and Ocean in Manzanita offers amazing baked goods as well as salads and deli items. The cinnamon rolls are a must-try.
Cape Lookout Trail
Mileage: 5 miles round-trip
Elevation gain: 930 feet
Trailhead: Cape Lookout Trailhead
The Cape Lookout trail involves less climbing than the others listed. It offers beautiful rooty trails through a sitka spruce forest with breathtaking views of the Oregon Coast Range and the Pacific Ocean.
Pro tip: At the cape, look for a trail that descends down toward to the water for some closer views of the ocean and maybe a passing whale.