Updated: Forests, Bunkers and Bears, Oh My: Three Oregon Coast Hiking Hotspots
Published 07/20/2016 at 7:01 PM PDT - Updated 07/21/2016 at 4:01 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) – UPDATED: wtih historical info on the bomber. For those who like a little more activity with their beach visit, hiking the forests and headlands of the Oregon coast may be the ticket. You can choose to walk along miles of uninterrupted beach and sand, although headlands and large streams can cut you off in many places. Or, hit the promontories and forest lands behind the beaches for some truly exhilarating exchanges with nature. You might even spot a bear or a hidden bit of history. (Above: Hiking on Tillamook Head, Seaside).
Here are three hiking hints that take miles to tread, but are worth the strains and aches.
Cummins Ridge near Yacahts. Wander along streams, through a thick Douglas Fir forest and stand awe-struck at the incredible views at the summit. Gaze in wonder at the ancient Sitka Spruces still left after logging of the area and maybe catch sight of a salamander, deer or even a bear amidst the huckleberry and swordferns. (Above: Neptune State Park: you get to see part of this from above along the trail).
Two trailheads let you onto the trail (found just south of Yachats). The lower trailhead starts some 2 miles down a twisty gravel road. There is a barricade and parking lot at the end, where the trail begins a six-mile ascent through lush forest. Look for MP 168 and turn east. It's almost kitty-corner from the entrance to Neptune State Park.
At the top is another parking lot, which you can reach by a forest service road. That road begins some two miles south of the road leading to the lower trailhead. It is almost kitty-corner to the Strawberry Hill entrance, and takes you some ten miles up steep and winding roads.
Experts advise taking this route and arranging a car waiting for you at the lower trailhead because it's much easier to descend.
This majestic headland is packed full of incredible views, a wondrous forest overhead and numerous surprises - plus there are three trails to enjoy.
Cape Lookout, on the Three Capes Loop. This is one hotspot on the north Oregon coast for a number of reasons, with hiking the full length of the headland only a part of it. More on Cape Lookout.
The Cape Trail makes a five-mile loop around the entire cape, winding up at the tip of this majestic outcropping where, if the weather permits, you can catch sight of Cascade Head and Cape Foulweather - some 40 miles to the south. To the north, you can even see Tillamook Head - about 42 miles to the north. It's primarily an easy trek with very little elevation gain. But there are enough uphill stretches to induce heavy breathing in even the most hardy.
About a half mile down the Cape Trail - at one of the first railed lookout spots - there's the Crash Sight Memorial, where a World War II B-17 bomber slammed into the headland in 1942.Only one man out of the 10 onboard survived, and he had a grueling day and a half before being rescued. See story here.
The South Trail veers off to the left of the Cape Trail, taking you down to a hidden cove and a secluded, very sandy beach - eventually connecting to the Sand Beach campground area about four miles to the south This is no easy trek, however. It's a zigzagging plod downward through two miles of trail before you hit the beach, so you can assume the hike back up will be a hellish one.
The North Trail leads you down to Cape Lookout State Park and the picnic areas. The trail moves downhill about 2 miles, making it a fairly easy hike. From the state park to the upper trailhead is all uphill, however, and a much more strenuous safari.
Keep in mind, except at the absolute driest times of the year, these paths often contain spots which are extremely muddy and damp. After all, they essentially plod through a rain forest. There's also quite a bit of wind up here on top of this lofty headland, even on a day where it seems like there's little wind on the beaches. So be advised of the weather and wind conditions before you go.
Tillamook Head, Between Seaside and Cannon Beach. It rises about 1,100 feet at one point. It's where part of Lewis & Clark's troupe walked to what is now Cannon Beach to check out a beached whale. And it offers stunning views of the ocean, rock islands and the mysterious Tillamook Head Lighthouse a mile offshore. But mostly, Tillamook Head has hiking trails throughout it, which are accessible from both the Seaside and the Cannon Beach sides, although it's a six-mile hike over the entire headland.
This is highly recommended for exploration with numerous breathtaking views to be found on this cliff structure, and in such places there are always hidden spots in the brush and forest. Indeed, there are the remnants of an old WWII army bunker in this dense overhang at some point along this magnificent trail.
Lucky for you, there are easier ways to enjoy it than the full trip. Starting at the Cannon Beach side, begin your jaunt at Ecola Point in Ecola State Park and hike 1.5 miles to the parking lot at Indian Beach. Continue on another 1.5 miles from there and you'll get to Tillamook Head's point and see the bunker, find a primitive camping spot for hikers as well as enjoy breathtaking views of a rugged beach and the lighthouse.
Round the bend of the point, and it's another four miles to the Seaside trailhead, past more incredible views, including the summit and a point Merewether Lewis wrote about.
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