Best Oregon Coast Day Hikes

The hikes listed here are my favorites on the Oregon Coast, including trails to secluded beaches, through coastal rainforests, to summits with panoramic views.

Oregon Coast hiking

A dramatic landscape where the forest and mountains meet the sea, the Oregon coast is lined with beaches, volcanic headlands and sea stacks, and backed by the Coastal Mountain Range. The general public was forever given free access to the entire 363-mile Oregon coastline in the state’s landmark 1967 Beach Bill. And that access is made easier by Highway 101, which runs parallel to the coastline, at times twisting and turning right next to the shore.

The North Coast includes scenic Ecola State Park near the arty community of Cannon Beach and Cape Lookout State Park near the town of Tillamook, famous for it’s cheese and ice cream company of the same name. Some of the largest remaining tracts of old-growth coastal forest are found along the Central Coast’s Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, with plenty of trails to explore them. The Southern Oregon Coast is more remote and isolated, and features the Oregon Dunes near the town of Florence and the some of the coast’s most scenic vistas along the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor.

Any time of year is good for hiking at the coast, although the trails can be quite muddy in the winter and spring’s rainy seasons.

Hike Difficulty Ratings

  • Easy: Up to 6 miles round trip, and up to 1,000 ft. gain
  • Moderate: Up to 8 miles round trip, with 1,000-2,000 ft. gain
  • Strenuous: Up to 10 miles round trip, with 2,000-3,000 ft. gain

Featured Hikes (north to south)

Tillamook Head – Seaside trailhead

Tillamook Head backpacking trip

distance: 8 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 1,200 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer, fall
trip report: Tillamook Head backpacking trip

Tillamook Head is significant for several reasons: it was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1806 when they crossed the headland to purchase whale blubber at Cannon Beach. It was also the site of radar equipment in World War II, some of which remains in forest here. And the trail across the headland is part of the Oregon Coast Trail, which travels the length of the coast line in Oregon.

The destination for this hike is the hiker’s camp on Tillamook Head, intended for people thru-hiking the Oregon Coast Trail. Along the way, the trail passes through dense coastal forest filled with sitka spruce and occasional views of the ocean. The trails here are often incredibly muddy, even in July.

Tillamook Head – Indian Beach trailhead

Tillamook Head hike via Indian Beach

distance: 2.8 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 800 ft.
difficulty: easy
best season: summer, fall
trip report: Tillamook Head via Indian Beach loop hike

Take this short hike up Tillamook Head from Indian Beach for spectacular views of the ocean, then take a short side trail that passes by an old WWII bunker to a viewpoint of unique Tillamook Lighthouse.

Netarts Spit

Netarts Spit hike

distance: 11.2 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 60 ft.
difficulty: difficult (due to length)
best season: all year
trip report: Netarts Spit hike

Located on the Oregon Coast’s Three Capes Scenic Loop, Netarts Spit is accessed via Cape Lookout State Park. The spit is a 5-mile long narrow section of beach that separates Netarts Bay from the ocean.

Cape Lookout hike

Cape Lookout Trail

distance: 5 miles (roundtrip)
elevation gain: 930 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer, fall
trip report: Cape Lookout hike

Cape Lookout is a narrow headland that juts westward into the Pacific for over two miles. This hike to the end of the cape is moderate due to the trail condition – full of roots to maneuver and often very muddy – but worth it for the views.

Harts Cove hike

Oregon Coast – Harts Cove hike

distance: 5.4 miles (roundtrip)
elevation gain: 1,100 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: this hike is only open from July 16 to December 31
trip report: Harts Cove hike

Note: this road to the trailhead is currently closed due to landslides. This hike can be done via the Knight’s Park or Rainforest trailheads, adding several miles each way. The Harts Cove trail heads 900 feet down through coastal forest to a large, open grassy meadow with views of Harts Cove and Chitwood Falls.

Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop at Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike

distance: 6.3 miles (loop hike)
elevation gain: 1,200 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: winter, spring
trip report: Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike

The Cape Perpetua Scenic Area contains some of the best remaining old growth forest on the Oregon Coast. This hike includes the Cooks Ridge, Gwynn Creek and Oregon Coast Trails for a 6 mile loop.

Heceta Head & Hobbit Trail loop

Oregon Coast - Heceta Head & Hobbit Trail loop hike

distance: 6.6 miles (loop hike)
elevation gain: 960 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: all year
trip report: Heceta Head & Hobbit Trail loop

This loop hike travels through some of the best coastal forest in Oregon to a scenic lighthouse, and finishes with walk through a tunnel-like trail to Hobbit Beach.

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