Explore forested headlands, tour tide pools, or stroll the beach barefoot on some of the Pacific Northwest's best coastal trails.
Visitors love driving Oregon's coast, but it's a shame not to get out and hike the stunning landscape, too. Here are several trails to get you started.
Ecola State Park area, near Cannon Beach
Novice explorers can trek along the Pacific on Clatsop Loop Trail, a two-mile historical interpretive route in Ecola State Park that leads travelers in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. More seasoned hikers might want to drive the extra miles to Tillamook State Forest for the Kings Mountain Trail, known for panoramic views and wildflower meadows. But be warned: Hikers must endure a 2,546-foot elevation gain in two and a half miles to enjoy the stunning mountain scenes.
Devil’s Punch Bowl, near Depoe Bay
Formed by the collapsed roof of two sea caves, this "punch bowl" features dramatic water displays that are definitely worth the hike. An easy walk down Beverly Beach and a cliff-climbing staircase leads to the nature-carved basin. Spend the day exploring extensive tide pools, then amble back over to the bowl to witness the wildly churning waves that accompany high tide. The area also promises whale watching and birding. Seaside accommodations are within walking distance at The Inn at Otter Crest (innatottercrest.com).
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and environs, near North Bend
Wind-sculpted dunes, a sparkling blue freshwater lake, and a historic lighthouse all await visitors here. Set aside a day for roaming the path at William M. Tugman State Park, which circles Eel Lake and its many inlets, and expect a few wildlife encounters along the way. The nearby Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area contains the largest coastal sand piles in North America and offers an array of arduous hiking opportunities. Travelers looking for a more laid-back excursion, however, can make their way to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park for relaxing walks and a glimpse of the 65-foot tower known for its distinctive red-and-white flash.
Columbia River Bar and Fort Stevens State Park, near Astoria
The Columbia River Bar has always been a navigational nightmare for sailors, and a hike beside the "Graveyard of the Pacific" will show you why. Pass by the shipwrecked remains of Peter Iredale, one of 2,000 ships that have sunk in this area, on your way to the viewing platform overlooking the jetty. For another slice of history, take a walking tour of Fort Stevens, or enjoy a scenic two-mile jaunt around the fort’s Coffenbury Lake.
Humbug Mountain State Park, near Port Orford
Rising 1,756 feet over the Pacific, the forested peak of Humbug Mountain provides visitors with switchback trails and magnificent coastal vistas. Family-friendly paths, such as the paved Old Highway 101 Trail, wind through old-growth Douglas fir, Oregon myrtle, and Western red cedar and yield striking seaside views.
*For more information, visit oregonstateparks.org.