hike: Cape Lookout

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.

distance: 5 miles (roundtrip)
elevation gain: 930 ft.
difficulty: moderate
best season: summer, fall
drive time from Portland: 2 hours
parking pass: Oregon State Parks Pass
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Cape Lookout hike

The Hike

Signs at the trailhead warn about the muddy trail… and they aren’t kidding. This trail has a lot of roots to work around too, so even though the hike is not long and doesn’t have much elevation gain, the mud and roots make it an obstacle course through the second half of the hike.

Cape Lookout was formed 15 million years ago when massive lava floods flowed down the Columbia River and fanned out down the coastline, hardening into basalt headlands.

From the trailhead, head through a dense forest of old-growth Sitka spruce with an understory of ferns, salal, and salmonberry, openings in the trees offer views to the south of a secluded beach accessible via the South Trail junction at the beginning of the hike.

Cape Lookout Trail

Views to the south through the trees

Cape Lookout Trail

At about .6 miles in, a marker commemorates a WW II B-17 bomber that crashed nearby.

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Views to the south towards Cape Kiwanda and Cascade Head

Cape Lookout Trail

The trail gets close to the edge of the cape with steep drop-offs in a few places, so be careful to watch your step here.

Cape Lookout Trail

At 1.2 miles in, a railed overlook provides views to the north towards of Cape Meares, Three Arch Rocks, Netarts Spit, and the campground at Cape Lookout State Park.

Cape Lookout Trail

Beginning the muddy section, which lasts for about a mile.

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The end of the cape is railed, with views to the north obstructed by trees, but the views of the ocean stretch out endlessly westward, and to the south look out toward Cape Kiwanda and Cascade Head. This can be a good place to watch for migrating whales, so bring binoculars. : )

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The following pics show how muddy this trail can get…

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The views help to make up for the trail conditions.

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