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Scenic and Historic Twists and Turns of Arch Cape on N. Oregon Coast

Published 07/25/21 at 5:35 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Scenic and Historic Twists and Turns of Arch Cape on N. Oregon Coast

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – Something unusual happens that you're not aware of when you go to the little village of Arch Cape on the north Oregon coast: you're actually stepping into the original Cannon Beach. A little known fact is that this tiny place was the first to have the name Cannon Beach, but then gave it up.

A funky quirk of Oregon coast history.

Also unknown to many, there's more packed into Arch Cape than they realize.

It's all a couple of miles south of Hug Point and four miles south of Cannon Beach, along a winding, twisting drive that suddenly straightens out as you head into the Arch Cape Tunnel. More of a lovely beach interlude than a town, it's an unincorporated community that consists of a few homes and one or two businesses right on 101. Yet mostly it's a couple of beach accesses hidden behind some neighborhood streets - and it's one truly romantic beach walk.

Much of Arch Cape is thin and narrow to the south – dangerously so in the winter or higher tides. It broadens out farther north, with the city limits stretching all the up to just shy of Hug Point, where beaches get big and much safer. There, an outcropping either lets you pass or it doesn't, depending on tidal conditions, and boom – you're in Hug Point.

On its south side you'll find a small grouping of rock structures hugging a basalt point, basically the outer edges of Cape Falcon. At lower tides, you can walk between these and the cliffs and explore a rocky beach full of boulders, dramatic structures and that glorious standby of great dates: poking around tidepools with the object of your affection.


To find a totally hidden spot adjacent to Arch Cape, you may be able to walk past those rock structures to a bit of secret paradise. Or, drive through the Arch Cape tunnel about a mile or two, until you spot a sign signaling "Falcon Cove Road." This is a residential district, so you'll want to be respectful here as you park near a somewhat slippery, muddy beach access.

This is one of the more unusual spots on the Oregon coast, with a beach made up of mostly large, polished cobblestones. You're basically walking on an enormous pile of these, and they're occasionally carved into oddball tiers. These loose, rattling stones make it hard to traverse.

Stay away in winter, however. The beach has proven deadly even from afar: one family walking above the beach was swept away into the ocean in recent years.


Arch Cape itself was named for the set of three arches that were once at that southern point, but now only one stands. The other two fell apart in the ‘40s.

When the diminutive burgh was first named back in 1891, it called itself Cannon Beach, after the weaponry found from the shipwreck of the USS Shark up in Astoria. The cannon and its stand floated all the way down here just after the Civil War years, along with two others that soon disappeared into the sands.

In the early 1900s, the town to the north called itself Elk City, then later changed it to Ecola. In 1912, Cannon Beach became Arch Cape, and ten years later Ecola became Cannon Beach. (See how Cannon Beach got its name)

Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours

Cannon Beach Vacation Rentals.  About 60 vacation homes to choose from: ocean view, oceanfront and very close to the beach, all in Cannon Beach or in Arch Cape. All are either oceanfront or very close. Homes sleep as many as 12. 164 Sunset. Cannon Beach, Oregon. 503-436-0940. 866-436-0940. www.visitcb.com 

Beachcomber Vacation Homes.  Numerous vacation rentals in the Cannon Beach area, including Falcon Cove and Arch Cape. Depending on the home, you may find amenities and luxuries such as a barbecue, claw foot tub, a ship's ladder. 115 Sunset Blvd. Cannon Beach, Oregon. 855-219-4758. 503-436-4500. Website.


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