Day hike the Oregon coast

After quite a few weeks straight of forecasted rain in the Pacific Northwest I decided the only way we were breaking our non adventurous streak was to just go rain or shine. So I headed to the place where I know no matter what the weather we always have the best time — the Oregon coast! These are two of my favorite hikes with great coastal views that are relatively short, enjoyable day hikes. I did not hike them together but, these hikes are so close to one another they would be well paired and I couldn’t ever see hiking one without the other again.

Cascade Head

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Distance: 6.8 miles roundtrip / 4.2 Lower trailhead only 
Elevation gain: 1300 ft
Cons: No pets

Just shy of 2 hours from Portland is in the city of Otis which is situated right between cascade head and Gods thumb along the Oregon coast. With its rocky cliffs ,sandy bluffs, coastal forests and hill top meadows its hard not to marvel in all its beauty. But the best view is from above which is right where the cascade head trail takes you. Follow the map to the Lower Trailhead . There is a lower and upper trail, we only ended up hiking the lower portion because the upper trail is closed from Jan 1- Jul 15 to protect a few endangered species in the area.

The first portion of the hike is where you do most of the climbing — up staircases, over a few wooden bridges and through the coastal forest home to some rather large douglas firs and spruces, which made me feel quite small among them. You will soon cross a few streams on newer wooden bridges before you start gradually climbing again. You will then reach the edge of the nature conservancy land, there’s an informational sign and a donation box. The meadows you’re about to visit where saved from developers in the 1960s by the Nature Conservancy. This hike wouldn’t even be here without their efforts. Donate if you so wish before passing through this area.

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LRG__DSC0245Soon after this sign you will reach the headland meadows, the views are pretty immediately vast to the south where you can see the salmon estuary extending to the coastline and Lincoln city in the distance. you climb further through a few trees before the trail opens up again and it wraps around the ridge to a large meadow bluff which is where we decided to stop and take some photos and devour some snacks. The trail follows the slope up a bit more through some switchbacks to get to an upper viewpoint where you would want to go if your also hiking the 1 mile upper trailhead portion.

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Looking out to the North you can see a heart shaped cove and the vast difference the upper trail may have to offer and to the South from the meadow you can see Gods thumb which is where were heading next.

 

Gods Thumb

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Distance: 4.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 1400 ft
Cons: unmarked trail

What used to be one of Lincoln cities best kept secrets, is now an option to explore since the once private land it sat on has since changed. This basalt peak sticks out over the ocean like a big thumbs up, which is how it got its famed name. This landscape is truly a breathtaking view to behold. especially if you sit on the edge of one of its many dramatic cliffs that drop away from this mountain top meadow to secret beaches below.

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When you visit you should park at roads end, but some folks still try to snag a spot in the neighborhoods that line the roads up to the trails start. Walking away from the beach, cross over Logan Road and onto Sal La Sea Drive. Follow this gravel road uphill for 1 mile to a junction with NW Port Drive, and turn right. There may be signs pointing the way toward “The Knoll.”  Just down Port Drive, you’ll reach a gate with a “no parking” sign. This is considered the “Upper Trailhead.” Walk around the gate, onto a trail. The trail splits almost immediately. Go right, following a sign pointing to “The Knoll.”

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You’ll follow a forested path uphill 0.2 miles to a junction. Go left, and walk out to a stunning viewpoint from “The Knoll.” Then, walk back to the junction and continue north. Follow a trail along a forested ridgeline, passing some big trees, to another unmarked junction. Go left at the junction. Follow the trail through a grassy meadow, you’ll reach yet another junction. Go left here, toward a rise in the meadow and the ocean.

 

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Soon you’ll reach the top of the meadow and get your first view of God’s Thumb. Then you’ll drop down, following a trail along the edge of a cliff, into the meadow that surrounds God’s Thumb. from here you can climb gods thumb for an even better view but its pretty steep and can be slick in wet conditions. We settled for this epic spot on the edge of the cliff, It felt daring enough right here. It had a pretty nice view of cascade head anyway. after relaxing here for awhile we took the other trail through the forest to find a less windy spot for refueling before heading back the way we came.

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Don’t forget to visit Lincoln City after either of these great hikes for some yummy provisions in one of their cafes or taverns.

 

 

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