backpack: Oregon Coast – Tillamook Head
These photos are from a backpacking trip with seven friends to the hiker’s camp on Tillamook Head. Since we wanted the hike to be longer than starting from Indian Beach at Ecola State Park, we started at the Seaside trailhead. Total distance one-way: 4 miles with 1,200 ft. elevation gain. The trail is a bit challenging due to all of the mud pits, downed trees to climb over or under, and tree root steps.
Note: leaving a vehicle overnight is not allowed at either trailhead, so start at the Seaside trailhead and park about 2/10 mile before the trailhead at a small gravel pullout.
The hiker’s camp has three wooden shelters, and a large area behind them to set up tents. Unusual features for a backpacking site included a vault toilet (no cathole digging!), and bundles of firewood to burn in the campfire ring ($5 each). There’s even a covered shelter with a picnic table. What there isn’t, however, is access to water for filtering… unless you hike another 1.5 miles down the trail to a seasonal creek, with about 800 ft. elevation loss (and then gain on the way back up).
To add interest to this trip, this trail has a bit of historical significance… it was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1906. They crossed the headland to buy whale blubber from the Native Americans in Cannon Beach. From the hiker’s camp, a short trail leads to a viewpoint of Tillamook Lighthouse, passing by an old WWII bunker for radar equipment.
From the hiker’s camp, continue another 1.5 miles on a hiking trail to Indian Beach at Ecola State Park. Great views of the coastline and Coast Range mountains are seen from the trail. Return via the Clatsop loop on an old road for an easier route back up to the hiker’s camp.