hike: Netarts Spit

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.

distance: 11.2 miles (out and back)
elevation gain: 60 ft.
difficulty: difficult (due to length)
drive time from Portland: 2 hours
parking pass: Oregon State Parks Pass
hike description: OregonHikers.org – Netarts Spit hike

The Hike

Spits are long, narrow landforms developed by the movement and accumulation of beach material due to waves traveling at an angle to the coast. They occur where the coastline changes direction, forming a shallow protected area of water. In this case, Netarts Bay and its narrow mud flats are what formed Netarts Spit. 

Cape Lookout State Park includes a large campground with yurts, cabins and sites for tents and RVs. The day use area provides access to the park’s seven miles of beach and many trails for hiking. To prevent erosion, European beach grass was planted here and along other low areas on the Oregon coast, which created small foredunes. Paths cut through the dunes at the park for beach access. Since part of the beach gets cut off during high tides, plan to do this hike at low tide.

Even though there’s no elevation gain on this hike, it’s still a good workout because walking on sand exerts more muscle effort than walking on a hard surface.

Netarts Spit hike

Begin the hike at the day use area, following an access trail to the beach, and head north for five miles to the end of the spit. The two-mile-long headland of Cape Lookout is at the south end of the beach, and Netarts Spit heads north, all the way to the opening of Netarts Bay. Along the beach, the bay is hidden from site by short dunes, but there are several areas along the dune to climb up for a view of the bay and Coastal Mountains behind it.

Netarts Spit hike

Along the beach, the bay is hidden from site by short dunes, but there are several areas along the dune to climb up for a view of the bay and Coastal Mountains behind it.

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To the north, the small beach communities of Oceanside and Netarts are visible. About a half-mile off the coastline, Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge provides protection for more than 150 species of birds, including Oregon’s largest breeding colony of tufted puffins, and is a pupping site for the threatened Stellar sea lion.

Netarts Spit hike

About a half-mile off the coastline, Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge provides protection for more than 150 species of birds, including Oregon’s largest breeding colony of tufted puffins.

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At the end of the spit where the ocean and the bay meet, the waves change direction, angling towards shore, splashing into small pools of water along the shoreline. At the tip of the cape, harbor seals sometimes gather to sun, and at low tides, the bay’s mud flats are a popular spot for clamming.