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Cannon Beach's Midtown / Gower Access: Gateway to Oregon Coast's Famed Haystack Rock

Published 08/10/23 at 9:41 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cannon Beach's Midtown / Gower Access: Gateway to Oregon Coast's Famed Haystack Rock

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – What's in a name, anyway? Haystack Rock may have two doppelgangers in the region (that's right, there's three of them), but the beach access associated with it is kind of blurry in the world of maps.

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The Oregon coast's most famous landmark has its main access right in Midtown Cannon Beach, known simply but colloquially as the Gower Ave. Access, sometimes the Gower St. Access, and even the Midtown Access. Yet there's technically a W Gower and an E Gower, and sometimes it's a street and sometimes it's an avenue. On the Cannon Beach Visitors Center site – and other spots – it's known as the Midtown access.

Either way, hit W Gower and you'll find the main access to Haystack Rock, although it's still about a quarter mile walk, or a tad less. It's the primary gateway to this Oregon coast favorite, containing some lovely views of its own, and there is some interesting history that you're walking upon.

It's also home to one of the historically scariest storm wave videos ever taken on the Oregon coast.

Cannon Beach's Gower access provides tons of parking on the west and east side of Highway 101, allowing for plenty to visit the midtown wonder. Yet busy days will see this completely fill up, and you'll have to look for alternative parking a ways away.

The Gower / Midtown access also boasts restrooms.

Getting down here (which features a handicapped accessible ramp) is actually Ecola Court – essentially a few feet from the parking lot at W Gower.

A variety of eateries surround the area, both indie delis and larger restaurants, and it's the perfect area to grab a bit of grub to-go and stroll onto the sands.

First, there's the creek, known as Ecola Creek. Ecola is one of the original names of the town, just before it became Cannon Beach in the early 1920s. [How Cannon Beach Got Its Name]

A kind of sea wall exists here, and as you cross the creek and you'll encounter a bit of a dune right in front of the access. Both make nice foregrounds for photos of Haystack Rock, and the concrete ramp is not a bad place to stand if you're snapping shots in a hurry.

However, most people make the walking trek down to the area from here. Amazing sunset moments can happen.

This spot at Ecola Creek and the Midtown / Gower access is where a major photo opp happened that helped clinch the deal in making the Oregon coast all public access. Gov. Tom McCall stood here in 1967 and looked up at the hotel then sitting here, the very place that had sparked the controversy over whether or not the beach could be cordoned off for private use.

That iconic shot helped propel the Beach Bill into being signed, but it also helped create an historical controversy over the incorrect legend that McCall stepped onto this beach from a helicopter.

A king tide episode in 2021 saw a disturbing moment when some folks ventured too near the storm waves and were chased up the access. The video is at the bottom of this page: Spectacular Yet Scary Images, Video from Oregon / Washington Coast King Tides

The Gower Access / Midtown Access is at the corner of Hemlock and Gower.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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