The 382-mile Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) is your gateway to the state’s entire Pacific edge: rainforests, sea stacks, and beaches, as well as shoreline towns for grabbing ice cream on the way. This 15.7-mile section, only an hour from Portland, offers the perfect balance of convenience, scenery, and wild moments. Take three days to accommodate sparse camping and several spots passable only at low tide. Top off water at frequent frontcountry sites: the campsites are dry. From the north end of Ecola State Park (1), head south on the OCT, climbing 1,000 feet through spruce and alder rainforest to the bluffs of Tillamook Head. Hit Ecola’s backpacker’s camp (2) at mile 3.6, where you can pitch your tent or luxe it up in four-bunk shelters (both first-come, first-serve). In the morning, continue south 1.3 miles on a gravel road, then detour down to Indian Beach’s tide pools (3) (“See This,” next page). Continue south on the OCT above the beach for 1.2 miles to Ecola Point (4). From the upper parking area restroom (a good water source), the trail winds a mile through spruce and hemlock forest with occasional ocean views before petering out at Ecola Park Road (5); walk the roadside for .8 mile to enter the coastal community of Cannon Beach (6) (lunch options abound). Access the beach at the west end of 2nd Street and head south. After a mile, pass toothy, 235-foot Haystack Rock (7). At mile 11.4, Silver Point’s (8) rocky abutment is passable only during lower tides (“Key Skill,” next page). Continue along the beach, past Jockey Cap, a large sea stack. Cross Clayton Creek to Humbug Point (9), also passable only during low tide. Roughly a mile south, drop your gear at a campsite (10) in a cliffside nook. Day three, round Hug Point (11) near lowest tide. Continue south along the beach through Hug Point State Park to the beachfront community of Arch Cape (12). Proceed nearly to the impassable Arch Cape; exit onto Leech Lane (13) and walk .5 mile to US 101 (get a cab back to Seaside).
Get there From Portland, take US 26 W 73 miles to US 101 N. Go 3 miles to a left on Ave. U, then link Edgewood St. and Sunset Blvd. to reach residential parking. Walk to the OCT in Ecola State Park.
Gear up Next Adventure, 426 SE Grand Ave., Portland. (503) 233-0706; nextadventure.net
Shuttle Arrow Taxi, (503) 738-5040; $20
Contact/tide table (800) 551-6949; oregonstateparks.org
Trip data backpacker.com/hikes/1383154