written by Bronte Dod | photo by Rob Kerr
Some say it’s about the journey, but these hikes are all about the destination. With stunning views at great heights and peeks into Oregon’s natural wonders, these hiking destinations on Oregon’s coast make the climb worthwhile.
The Tillamook Head hike doesn’t have an extraordinary elevation gain, but it does offer one of the best views of “Terrible Tilly,” the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse built in 1881 that sits on a rock island about a mile off the Oregon Coast. If that sight isn’t enough, the hike also leads past a World War II-era bunker. The trail, which is open all year, winds through one of the old-growth forests that are plentiful along Oregon’s coastline.
Distance: 6.3 miles
Cape Lookout State Park near Tillamook offers year-round hiking with incredible views. If you’re there during peak whale watching times in the spring or winter, the viewpoint is said to be one of the best for spotting migrating whales. You’ll be hiking through a forest of Sitka spruce trees, which are only found along a narrow strip of land on the Pacific Coast.
Distance: 5 miles
Just outside of Yachats, the trail at Cape Perpetua is the path that leads to one of Oregon’s natural wonders, Thor’s Well. On top of that, there are plenty of tide pools and secret-feeling beaches along the way. It’s easy to spend the whole day exploring the six-mile stretch of coast.
Distance: 6.5 miles
Cascade Head/Hart’s Cove
Before you see the incredible view that Hart’s Cove offers, you’ll hear it. The area is a popular sea lion hangout, and you’ll hear them barking while you’re on the trail. While you won’t be able to see the sea lions, the trail will also lead to a view of Chitwood Falls in the cove. The upper trail at Cascade Head is only open from July to November to protect the threatened landscape, but the Lower Nature Conservancy Trail is open all year. The headland meadow is a perfect spot with an incredible view for a picnic lunch to fuel up before you keep climbing.
Distance: 6.8 miles
On a clear day, at the top of Saddle Mountain, you can see west to the Pacific Ocean and east to Mt. Hood. The trail begins in the often misty coastal forests and ascends for five miles to a summit elevation of 3,280 feet. The trailhead is open from April to November, but the peak time to go is between May and July, when the wildflowers that cover the mountain are in full bloom. The hike isn’t technically on the coast, but if you’re on your way to Seaside or Cannon Beach it’s worth the detour.
Distance: 5.2 miles