camping: Tillicum Beach

On this two night camping trip, we stayed at a campground with views of the ocean and a wide expanse of beach, viewed the crashing waves of the king tides on the rocky coastline, and hiked in an old growth coastal forest.

In the winter, I like to camp in my car at the coast whenever there’s a decent weather forecast. Winter camping at the coast can be rainy, but it can also be spectacular with amazing sunrises and sunsets in between storms. After a rainy start to the season, I finally had an opportunity to head out for a camping trip at Tillicum Beach campground. Located between Waldport and Yachats, this campground is a great location for its wide expanse of beach as well as proximity to Cape Perpetua. The view of the ocean from my campsite was pretty sweet too. Learn more about Tillicum Beach campground.

A few years ago, I setup my Honda CR-V so I could camp in it. Learn more about how I camp in my car: My Honda CR-V Camper Setup.

Tillicum Beach car camping tripTillicum Beach car camping trip

Day 1

After setting up camp, I took a walk on the beach at low tide. The campground has easy access to the beach via concrete steps. At high tide, there isn’t enough beach for safe walking, so make sure to check the tide tables before heading down to it.

Tillicum Beach camping trip Tillicum Beach car camping trip Tillicum Beach car camping trip

Back at camp, I cooked dinner under the canopy attached to my car. It was nice to have since the rest of the campsite was wet and muddy from all of the recent rain.

Tillicum Beach car camping trip

Day 2

The next morning, I got up to take photos of sunrise at the beach. I was surprised to see this magical scene of a rainbow on the horizon. The other side of the rainbow was visible a distance up the beach from here. The rainbow didn’t last for more than a few minutes. Not long after this, it started raining and continued for a few hours.

Tillicum Beach camping tripTillicum Beach camping trip

King Tides at Cape Perpetua

king tides at Cape Perpetua

After breakfast, we headed south about six miles to Cape Perpetua to see the king tides and to do a hike in the coastal forest. I’d only seen king tides one other time at the coast, but it wasn’t in a location where the waves crashed against a rocky shoreline like at Cape Perpetua. King tides are higher than normal tides that occur once or twice a year due to the alignment of the earth, moon and sun. There was a new moon this weekend, which caused the king tides to be predicted. I’ve never seen the tides so high at this location… the waves were fast and powerful. It was mesmerizing to watch. For videos of the king tides, go to my YouTube channel.

Cooks Ridge / Gwynn Creek loop hike

We headed inland at Cape Perpetua to hike in one of the best remaining old growth forests on the coast. This hike starts at the upper parking area near the visitors center and includes the Cooks Ridge, Gwynn Creek and Oregon Coast Trails for a 6 mile loop. We parked in the day use area and walked to the upper parking lot for RVs to reach the trailhead.

Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hikeCape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike

It was raining and foggy when we started the hike, which enhanced the green colors on the mossy covered trees.

Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike

At the junction with the Gwynn Creek Trail, we headed down towards the coast. This section of the hike has multiple small creeks to cross, and larger Gwynn Creek at the bottom of the ridge.

Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike

There were several large trees that fell and blocked the trail on the Gwynn Creek trail (no photos of this part of our hike). One of them was large enough that we couldn’t get over it without risking falling down the ridge as we tried to go over it. We could have turned around and hiked out the same way we came in, but that would have been about 10 miles for the day and likely would have gotten dark on us as we finished. Instead, we scrambled up a steep slope covered in blow down to get around it. It would have been nice to know about this hazard before beginning the hike since it was a treacherous climb – even though we managed to do it safely, it definitely could have gone otherwise for us. We stopped at the visitors center to let the forest service know about it and they mentioned that they have work crews coming in with chain saws to take care of it soon.

Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike

At the junction with the Oregon Coast Trail, we stopped to take in the view of Gwynn Creek before heading back towards the visitors center.

Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike

The Oregon Coast Trail section of this hike parallels Highway 101 and has views of the coastline through the forest. The rain lifted and blue skies with puffy clouds greeted us at the end of the hike.

Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike Cape Perpetua – Cooks Ridge/Gwynn Creek loop hike

The last section of this hike is short walk on the road to the visitors center, then to the parking area to complete the loop.

Sunset at camp

Back at the campground, we had one more sunset to enjoy on our last night of the camping trip. I really enjoyed my stay at the campground and would definitely stay here again.

Tillicum Beach camping trip Tillicum Beach camping trip Tillicum Beach camping trip