Natural Splendor along the Oregon Coast
Lincoln City, Oregon – The question of best hikes on the west coast can be an exercise in futility. There are simply too many to choose from. However, a personal favorite and one that we’ve been embarking on with the same excitement almost every summer for over 25 years lies along the coast of Oregon, just 90 miles southwest of Portland.
Situated less than 90 miles southwest of Portland, Cascade Head is a UNESCO biosphere reserve sitting aside the Siuslaw National Forest a few minutes north of Lincoln City and conveniently located off Coast Highway 101.
Heading north and a few miles outside of of town, hang a left on Three Rocks Road shortly after passing the Salmon River. Park and gear up at Knight County Park where the Salmon River meets the Pacific Ocean. At the northern end of the lot, the trailhead will lead you on your journey to lush rain forests, hilltop meadows and coastline views that will leave even seasoned explorers in awe.
One of the many treats to experience as you make your ascent is the ability to gaze down upon both herds of grazing elk and birds of prey scouring the landscape. This area is also home to an abundance of spectacular wildflowers and a rare butterfly. There’s much to see at every turn.
Retains Allure After 25 Years
Making your way toward the peak you will find yourself stopping in awe every few seconds to soak it all in. The last stretch to the top is a bit of an ankle twister as you make your way on a very narrow trail that the elk manage effortlessly. Keep an eye out for herds of elk lying in the grass enjoying the views.
A perfect grassy area with killer views awaits as you take a well deserved rest and refuel break. Stellar views in all directions overwhelm the senses as you to take in the coastline, the Cascades, Devil’s Lake, the Salmon River along with the wildlife and flora.
At this point you can retrace your steps back to your car or if you have what it takes press on through the rain forest and loop back to your car the long way. This adds several miles to your hike and more than once have found ourselves hitching a ride from very kind strangers when our legs could carry us no more.
Year after year, it’s an enthusiastic return to the Oregon Coast and Cascade Head. This magical hike still retains the same allure as it did when much younger and stronger legs carried us up the hill. Cascade Head is truly among the Best Hikes on West Coast.
What To Know
* Bring good hiking shoes
(mud is common on some stretches)
* Bring plenty of water
* Bring lunch and snacks
(pack it out)
* Dress in Layers
(weather can change quickly)
* Cell phone reception
(surprisingly, it’s been stellar)
Updated July 2021: First published June 2016