It is easy to miss Ecola State Park if you are headed to Cannon Beach for a day at the coast. The road to the park is a subtle turn just after the Cannon Beach exit, but this unassuming road leads to some of the best views, trails and beach access on the northern Oregon coast.
The drive toward the park’s entrance winds through stands of Sitka spruce and western hemlock that create a green canopy that completely envelops the road. Once through the entrance, green gives way to blue as views of the Pacific stretch south past Cannon Beach, north toward Seaside, and west as far as the eye can see. Have a picnic and take a stroll here, or if you are interested in more activity, hike the Tillamook Head Trail or the Clatsop Loop Trail interpretive route. The trails lead to dramatic ocean viewpoints, including views of the decommissioned lighthouse. In its day, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was nicknamed “Terrible Tilly” for severe weather conditions and the dangerous commute that keepers and suppliers negotiated to maintain the lighthouse. The lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Watch for migrating gray whales from the higher ocean vantage points, and watch for Roosevelt elk and deer on the hiking trail. If you are interested in sea life, spend some time at the tide pools on Indian Beach, which is also a popular destination for surfers. The Crescent Beach Trail also accesses a less-trafficked nearby beach.
Ecola State Park stretches for 9 miles between Seaside and Cannon Beach, and you may choose to explore just a sliver of its terrain. However you choose to experience it, you are sure to appreciate an area Captain William Clark believed to be “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes every surveyed…”