If you’re scouting some awesome West Coast-hugging hikes offering everything from stunning mountain vistas to jaw-dropping ocean views, check out northwest Oregon. Here are our top three hikes from Astoria to Tillamook:
Fort to Sea Trail – near Warrenton, OR
Distance: About 13 miles, round trip
Elevation Gain: 659 ft.
Yes, it’s kind of a long trail if you do the whole thing, starting at the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center out to Sunset Beach and back. Dotted with wooded pasture and small lakes, the trail includes hoofin’ it through deep forest up and over Clatsop Ridge. But the ridge isn’t that steep. Really. Besides. Where else can you cross under Highway 101, pass the oldest Presbyterian Church in continuous existence west of the Rocky Mountains, and chug through a real, live cow pasture – with real, live cows – en route to the beach? (I am not making this up.)
The Fort to Sea trail is a beautiful hike, well worth the time. Unless you’re the Roadrunner, plan on a full day. Leashed dogs okay.
Saddle Mountain – near Seaside, OR
Distance: 4.3 miles, round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,968 ft.
This popular out-and-back hike to the highest point in NW Oregon includes a commanding panorama from the ocean to Mount Saint Helens and hillsides flush with wildflowers.
The last half mile or so is steep, exposed, and not exactly acrophobe-friendly. Wear a hat. Use sunscreen. Bring plenty of water. One other thing. The cable guards along the final portion of this trail are there for a reason. Use them. (You’ll understand if you tackle this trail on a windy day.)
Distance: 12.50 miles, round trip
Elevation Gain: 3,293 ft.
Located near Cannon Beach, this trail climbs, dips and switchbacks, but not severely. The longer trail winds through a thick forest and hugs the coast most of the way, offering stunning peek-a-boo views of the Pacific.
We hiked this trail in November. Not exactly a stroke of genius. You could hang meat in the winds catapulting off the water onto the headland. At least we were properly outfitted.
Anyway, don’t forget to take a gander at the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. It reminded us of the Chateau d’If (you’ll get that if you’re up on your Alexandre Dumas.) You can cheat and try to snag a view from Indian Beach if you brought binoculars and 20/20 vision. But the best view is from the overlook off the main trail on the headland.
Camp 18 Restaurant – Elsie, Oregon. Near Seaside-ish.
Throwin’ this in for free.
First off, this restaurant is out in the middle of pickin’ nowhere. I mean, it’s not quite at the Edge of the World. But you can see it from the dining room.
The food is adequate. But the décor – both inside and out – is a hoot and a half. Think humungous log cabin, tall timber, mini-museum and northwest logging. Did I mention the fireplace and life-sized, wood-carved bears?
On your way to and from the Oregon Coast via State Highway 26. Between Portland and Seaside / Cannon Beach.
Are we there yet?