One of the great things about the Oregon coast is the variety of activities available. The beaches alone offer chances for tide pooling, wildlife watching, sun bathing, and beach combing. Some places even offer long stretches of open beach for walking. The cliffs above the coast offer chances for even more activity with plenty of hiking trails. If you drive just a little further inland, you can explore waterfalls and mountain views. We really only scratched the surface of coastal hiking in Oregon but here are some of the hikes we did that we would recommend.
Cape Meares Lighthouse (northern coast)
This lighthouse is very near the Cape Lookout parking area and offers short paved trails down to and around the historic lighthouse. There is also a hike down to a nearby beach. We visited this spot after shooting sunrise at Cannon Beach and before hiking the Cape Lookout Trail. It was a perfect quiet start to the morning.
Cape Lookout Trail (northern coast)
This 4 mile out and back hike takes you out to open views on cliffs overlooking the Pacific. The terrain is moderate and the trail has open views nearly the whole time, making it perfect to enjoy on a sunny day with appropriate sun protection.
Thors Well and Cape Perpetua (central coast)
Just south of the charming town of Yachats, is Cape Perpetua. The area boasts many short hiking trails. We’ve hiked miles and miles there, but all have been to and from the formation of Thors Well. Kelly was just just mesmerized by this hole through the cliff. Waves erupt through it and then wash down back into the ocean. The plateau where Thors Well is located can be slippery and unsafe during storms. But for the watchful eye, there’s good scrambling to be done to enjoy this rugged portion of the coast.
Heceta Head to Hobbit Beach (central coast)
Hobbit Beach can be reached by 1/4 to 1/2 mile hike from roadside parking. Even this little taste of the forest will give you all the instant Oregon feels. But for a longer hike (4 miles round trip) and even more of the Oregon forest feel, try the hike from the Heceta Beach parking area. The hike goes up and past the Heceta Head lighthouse. It’s got some steepness to it but the climb is short. Then you descend down to Hobbit Beach. Hobbit Beach is one of those long open beaches in the state so if you pack enough water and food, you can make quite a long day of adventuring down it and then back.
Oregon Coast Trail at Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor (southern coast)
One of the most Instagrammed spots along the Oregon coast (and certainly from the southern coast) has got to be Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor. This strip of protected land runs along the coastal highway and is a relatively higher elevation area. The Oregon coast trail hugs the cliffs above the shore here and offers a chance for you to walk as far out in either direction as you’d like. The famous natural bridges can be viewed from just a quarter mile hike or so. You’ll see plenty of places where the trail is closed due to people scrambling down the cliffs to get Instagram shots. Just stay on the trail here and remember that this sort of behavior violates Leave no Trace principles and damages the fragile area. If it were safe to expose the area to that much foot traffic, there would be open trails there. Until they exist, please prioritize the longevity of natural areas over the short-term fame of social media.