Fascinating Finds and Sights at Cape Meares, N. Oregon Coast

Published 12/05/2012

(Oceanside, Oregon) – About 10 miles of the town of Tillamook, at the northern edge of the Three Capes Loop, you'll find two Cape Meares. One is the actual cape itself, and the other is the tiny beach village named after the cape.

The headland known as Cape Meares is one of those in the Three Capes Loop, sitting about five miles north of the tiny village of Oceanside, and about 25 miles north of Pacific City. This cape provides easier viewpoint access than the other two: Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout. Several platforms and openings in the thick forest make for constant ocean vistas at this scenic favorite a few hundred feet above the ocean.

There's a lot to do in Cape Meares State Park, including a lighthouse, watching birds nesting and carousing on the cliffs, taking in some mammoth wave action, various trails, and a truly oddball tree called the Octopus Tree.

Look to the south and catch sight of the famed Three Arch Rocks of Oceanside – from a different angle. If you know what you're looking for, you can even see the highly secretive Short Beach and Lost Boy Beach from a distance. Also visible are the mini sea stacks that cap the end of that semi-secret beach beyond the tunnel at Oceanside.

Look to the north a bit and you'll see the cliffs of the headland that aren't accessible. But from the viewing platforms you can check out some incredible complex rocky objects in the sea stacks just offshore.

Here's a view of them much closer. If you're lucky you'll spot birds there or other wildlife.

Another favorite of Cape Meares is the Octopus Tree, an oddly shaped ancient Sitka Spruce that served as a burial place of sorts. This is how it got its candelabra shape, as apparently local tribes set their dead in their canoes in the limbs of the trees, and the limbs grew large and around those boats.

The Octopus Tree had for hundreds of years eight limbs, and was even featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not books in the mid 20th century. But in the 1990's, a particularly nasty storm tore off one of the limbs, now leaving seven.

The lighthouse is open to the public during the high season. A sizable parking lot allows a good deal of visitors, but fall – when the coast is at its warmest – is the best time of the year to visit. It's also quite stunning for wave action during storm events, but don't visit if the winds are too high. They can get enormous gusts into the 70's, 80's or 90's up there.


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