Misty Moments Above the Oregon Coast: Cape Lookout Trailhead
Pacific City, Oceanside, Three Capes Loop Virtual Tour


(Oceanside, Oregon) – A bit south of the tiny village of Oceanside and a few more miles north of the bustling resort of Pacific City, there's an awe-inspiring wonder along this winding, twisting stretch of the north Oregon coast. Cape Lookout is the middle promontory of the Three Capes Route, an ancient basalt structure that juts out over two miles into the ocean, covered in a thick layer of rain forest and host to a five-mile-loop of trails.

It all depends on the moment, but some remarkable sights lurk up here, especially if there's even a bit of a mist. The whole place can look like something out of the legends of Camelot, and it's suddenly not hard to believe some massive dragon will soon come swooping through the lush canopy of green stuff.

If you're approaching Cape Lookout from the south, you'll first be coming from the Sand Lake area, where dunes surround the road on either side – and sometimes they've drifted all over that road. You'll almost be driving through them. The road winds up and around and you'll come to a handful of somewhat secret viewpoints. These are mere dirt pull-offs, but a few have just enough space between the trees to spot something wondrous. In one case, you're looking down on Sand Lake Recreation Area, and you can all the way down to Pacific City's Cape Kiwanda. With your eye you can follow the sand and shoreline down to that landmark.

Along the way, Sand Lake itself is evident, along with a few other well known spots – all from a kind of aerial view. Yet you're still – paradoxically - on the ground.

On this particular day, in the photo at top, the headland is covered in a mysterious mist. A hazy, thin fog has enveloped the area, allowing this otherworldly look of fog with a colorful sunlight bouncing around. It's nothing short of ethereal.

It's even more so when you get to the trailhead itself. Often times, these dense trees are so thick in humidity that it will seem like it's raining a bit at the top of Cape Lookout. This rain forest is creating its own rain because the leaves are so covered in moisture they're letting down droplets onto you and your car. They're frequently rather large plops as well – coming from sizable blobs of water. It's an interesting effect.

This can happen fairly often – even if it's not raining on Cape Lookout or this part of the north Oregon coast.

If you take the trail, it makes a five-mile-loop around the cape. A second trail takes you down to Cape Lookout State Park, and a third zig-zags its way about two miles down to a very secret and very odd beach right up against the southern face of Cape Lookout.

Here, Cape Lookout is seen from the north, at Netarts. It's also the prominent finger-like structure seen from the south at spots like Tierra Del Mar and Pacific City.

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