Five Coastal Walks You'll Love Between Cannon Beach and Nehalem, OR
The rugged and spellbinding Oregon Coast is known for its splendid scenery, often seen from Highway 101. But, few things in life are better than the salt air caressing your face while the hypnotic sounds of crashing waves mesmerize. Thanks to Governor Oswald West, back in 1913, all Oregon beaches are public.
Two hours from Portland, the Cannon Beach area is a popular destination. These five spectacular walks are available to all (including four-legged companions):
1. Manzanita Beach (Neahkahnie to Nehalem Bay Jetty), 7 miles (one-way), 0 elevation gain. This highly walkable and classic flat sandy beach is protected by low dunes, beach grass and silver-grey drift wood. From the west end of Manzanita’s main street, Leneda Avenue, walk south past Manzanita homes for about one mile then immerse into the natural world, from the beginning of Nehalem State Park, all the way to the Jetty (about five more miles). Walking north from Leneda Avenue to Neahkahnie (one mile) there are more people and activity.
2. Neahkahnie Mountain, 6 miles (round trip), 900 feet elevation gain. Neahkahnie Mountain dominates the landscape in Manzanita and provides an aerial view of the seven-mile beach walk (#1 above) from its summit. Not a sandy beach walk, this is a must do trail walk in the area. Drive either to the south trailhead or north trailhead, just off Highway 101. Shuttle a car and walk it all one way or do an out and back to the summit from either trailhead. Walk through a lush forest of Sitka spruce, Western hemlock and Western red cedar towering over underbrush of sword ferns and salal before emerging onto the grassy slope of the summit. From the north trailhead, add on a 2.6 mile hike out and back to Short Sands Beach, a scenic pocket beach frequented by avid surfers.
3. Silver Point to Chapman Point via Haystack Rock, 4 miles (one way), 0 elevation gain. Iconic Haystack Rock commands attention, at 235 feet. It is a nesting paradise for many species of birds including the colorful tufted puffin while anemones and sea stars provide a good show in the tidepools at low tide. Education is provided by naturalists during low tides.
4. Arcadia Beach to Arch Cape via Hug Point, 4.5 miles (round trip), 0 elevation gain. The intrigue of this walk is Hug Point. An old stage coach route was carved out of the rock in the 1880’s to enable passage at times other than low tide. The beach was the road back then. Park at Arcadia Beach for an out and back.
5. Indian Beach (Ecola State Park), 2 miles (one way), 100 feet elevation gain. Known for its rich intertidal sea life (tidepools) in both sandy and rocky environments, low tide is best. Park in the Indian Beach Day Use Area (small fee) and walk down to and along the beach. Add on the 2.5-mile Clatsop Loop for expansive views of the rocky volcanic coastline, sandy pocket beaches and wave action of the Pacific Ocean.
If you go:
Visit the Oregon Coast in any season. Spring brings nesting shorebirds, while summer brings warmth (and crowds). Cool fall sunny days are a favorite before storm watchers brave the rains for the enormous crashing ocean waves.
Tennis shoes are best for sandy beach walks (#1,3,4,5) while lightweight hiking shoes are suitable for Neahkahanie Mountain trails, #2.
Be prepared for changing weather with extra layers, rain jacket, hat, sunscreen and sunglasses along with water and a snack.
Binoculars can enhance your visit, while a camera or phone are fun for sharing such a scenic place.
Check out The Beach - Washaway Beach, WA to Manzanita, OR for an additional Pacific beach fix.