From epic views and Hobbit trails to boardwalk biking and strolls through quaint seaside towns, the coast is calling.
Searching for heavenly views? This 1,631-foot-high headland—which translates to “the Place of the Gods” in the Tillamook language—towers over Nehalem Bay and rewards intrepid climbers with panoramas of coastal cliffs and quaint seaside towns up to 50 miles up and down the coast. Skip the north access point from Oswald West State Park—which traverses a noisy mile of Highway 101’s shoulders—and opt for the densely forested, Sitka spruce–strewn switchbacks from the south trailhead, with frequent peeks of the roiling ocean and distant knolls. Round Trip: 3.2 miles; Elevation Gain:900 ft; Nearest Town: Manzanita; Distance from Downtown: 1h 45m
Heceta Head Lighthouse Trail to Hobbit Beach
Middle-earth has been discovered, and it’s on the Oregon coast! This path winds from the 121-year-old, 56-foot-tall Heceta Head Lighthouse through coastal rain forest switchbacks before descending through the tunnel-like Hobbit Trail. For hikers with small children, skip the lighthouse section and access the half-mile beach trail from the highway for an easy, magical stroll that pops you from Tolkien-style trees, roots, fungi, and shrubs to a broad, beautiful, blissfully uncrowded beach. Round Trip: 6 miles; Elevation Gain: 1,361 feet; Nearest Town: Florence; Distance from Downtown: 3h 30m
Drift Creek Falls Trail
Does the average mossy Oregon forest leave you bored? If you need some varied viewpoints to keep you (or antsy kids) from zoning out on your hike, this Coast Range trail offers an impressive 240-foot suspension bridge perched 100 feet over the trail’s namesake horsetail waterfall and imposing basalt cliffs and boulders, as well as frequent elk sightings between stately Douglas firs. Be warned—it’s a leisurely stroll downhill to the falls but a climb to return. Round Trip: 3.1 miles; Elevation Gain: 490 feet; Nearest Town: Lincoln City; Distance from Downtown: 2h 30m
Long Beach Discovery Trail
Whether you’re steering a wide-handled beach cruiser, strapping on roller skates, or racking up your racing bike, spin your wheels along this paved path through a charming slice of Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula. Studded with dozens of sea-view benches and public art—from bronze sculptures of Lewis and Clark to gray whale skeletons and dancing wooden dolphins—the family-friendly trail guides you past cresting waves of dune grasses, wooden boardwalks, lush wetland groves, and the looming shadow of Cape Disappointment. Round Trip: 17 miles; Elevation Gain: 238 feet; Nearest Town: Long Beach, Wa; Distance from Downtown: 2h 30m
Wilson River Traverse Hike—Ryan Creek Section
Up for a challenge? The Wilson River Traverse’s full 22.6-mile string of abandoned logging roads and fishers’ trails beckons plucky backpackers or mountain bikers for a full-scale excursion in the Coast Range. But thanks to a multitude of trailheads, the journey can be broken up into manageable day-hike sections. To tackle Ryan Creek, trace the river from the Footbridge Trailhead to Keening Creek Trailhead, earning views of Lower Bridge Creek Falls, bigleaf maples, beaver dams, and, if you’re lucky, an elk (or five). Round Trip: 12.2 miles; Elevation Gain: 1,070 feet; Nearest Town: Forest Grove; Distance from Downtown: 1h
- Watering Hole: The brand-new Buttercup Ice Creams and Chowders on Nehalem’s picture-perfect main drag features a shifting monthly menu of picnic-ready treats, from smoked Oregon salmon chowder to coconut-avocado-lime ice cream in a blue corn cone.
- Stay Overnight: After a long day of seaside trekking, splurge on a room with a view at the Stephanie Inn, a historic beachfront property with in-room jetted tubs, fireplaces, and picture-perfect vistas of Haystack Rock. Don’t skip the legendary (and free!) breakfast buffet.
- Do: Soothe sore calves at Spa Manzanita, an organic spa where beach inspiration runs deep: for the signature heated stone massage, owner Janice Gaines gathers and tumbles smooth stones from nearby Neahkahnie Mountain.
- Go Big: Block out a weekend to explore the stunning, 1,371-acre Floras Lake State Park, just north of Port Orford. Set up camp at the Curry County–operated Boice Cope Park, then kayak or paddleboard around Floras Lake before hiking out to Blacklock Point. This under-the-radar headland is accessible through a wild forest of shore pine, Sitka spruce, and alder, with unbeatable views of ocean islands and lighthouses, 80-foot sandstone cliffs, and isolated black-sand beaches.
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