Featured Hike: Cape Falcon

Cape Falcon

Though it may still be warm and sunny outside, summer is almost over, so today we are sharing our final post for our summer series of featured hikes. And we are ending on a great note with the Cape Falcon hike. This hike is among the most popular destinations on the North Coast, and for good reason. I encourage you to add it to your upcoming coast trip itinerary. From the top you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Smuggler’s Cove, Short Sands Beach, and Neahkahnie Mountain. 


Cape Falcon - The Hike
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 480 ft

First, Some Background:
The Cape Falcon hike is located in Oswald West State Park and looks out over the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve. The area is protected as a state park, and therefore is unlikely to be logged. However, the hillsides surrounding the park have been heavily clear-cut and sprayed with herbicides. These aerial sprays have impacted watersheds that flow directly into the beaches in and around Oswald West State Park. In September of 2016 Oregon Wild joined The Rockaway Beach Citizens for Watershed Protection to launch the Save Short Sands campaign. If you want to check the area out and learn more about the clear-cuts, join Oregon Wild and The Rockaway Beach Citizens for Watershed Protection on this hike on Sunday, September 29th. Sign up today!

How to Get There:
From Cannon Beach, drive US Highway 101 south for about 10 miles to Oswald West State Park. The trailhead is located on the west side of US 101 right at milepost 39: look for beach access parking and Cape Falcon signs. The parking area is a pullout on the side of the highway.

Hike Description:
To begin, follow this popular trail along Short Sand Creek at the base of a steep ravine to a trail junction for the beach (left) or to Cape Falcon (right). For this hike, turn right, but be sure to visit Short Sand Beach another time. The forest is dominated by towering Sitka spruce, but it also includes Douglas-fir, western redcedar, and western hemlock. The trail is well maintained: boardwalks cover many of the wet areas, but roots and mud do make it slick and challenging in some places. The trail rolls up and down and in and out of headland forest with tall spruces, a dense salal understory, and some spruces of wide girth also scattered along the way. A few areas along the trail are younger forests replanted after the large old trees were removed following a major windstorm in 1981. At about 2 miles, the trail narrows and ascends among exposed roots through a tall hedge of salal and other shrubs to an unmarked trail junction. Take a left to head toward the open headland through the shrub tunnel. Rogue trails start to snake through the hedge—but it’s hard to get lost if you are seeking the view, which stretches out over a protected marine reserve and south across Smuggler’s Cove and Short Sand Beach to Neahkahnie Mountain. Once you’ve taken it all in, head back the way you came.


And with that, we wrap up our summer series of featured hikes. We hope you’ve enjoyed the series and maybe even been inspired to get outside. This hike is one of the 91 hikes included in our new book Oregon’s Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide, by staffer Chandra LeGue. Get your own copy today, either online, in select bookstores, or at one of our book events.

Follow along for book updates, forest facts, and event info on Facebook at Oregon’s Ancient Forests, and Instagram @oregon_ancient_forests. And in return, we’d love to follow along on your ancient forest adventures! Tag your forest photos with #OregonOldGrowth and #ORAncientForests.

For more hikes and outdoor adventures, check out our suggested outings page.

Photo Credits
Chandra LeGue