Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
4.80 mi (7.72 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Of Oregon’s Northern Coast hikes, the Cape Lookout Trail is arguably one of the most picturesque. Weaving between a dense forest of Sitka spruce and along the 400-foot cliff edge, hikers get the best of both worlds: stunning vertical views of old-growth in deep green forest, and breathtaking horizontal expanses of the shoreline. Keep your eyes open for wildlife as well. Peregrine falcons are known to nest in the area, and if you visit in March, you may also catch migrating gray whales traveling north from Mexico with their calves.

At the hike’s turn-around point and the furthest tip of the 1.5-mile headland, impressive views extend both north and south. To the south you’ll see Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock off the shore.  This Haystack Rock is not to be confused with the more commonly known sea stack off the shores of Cannon Beach that shares its name (there are actually three Haystack Rocks on the Oregon Coast). To the north you can see the Netarts Bay Spit and Cape Meares.

Along with this natural jetty, Cape Lookout State Park includes one of Oregon’s best and most popular campgrounds.  Make sure to reserve a tent, yurt or RV site early, especially if planning a summer visit.  With miles of hiking trails, sandy beaches and options for overnight stays, Cape Lookout is an excellent area to visit and to explore the Pacific Ocean and Siuslaw National Forest.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

State Park Fee

Pros

Old-growth forest. Panoramic views. Diversity of scenery.

Cons

Heavily used. Muddy and often slippery trail.

Trailhead Elevation

840.00 ft (256.03 m)

Net Elevation Gain

440.00 ft (134.11 m)

Features

Whale watching
Wildlife
Bird watching
Big vistas
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Comments

07/15/2019
Great hike! Went on a Monday afternoon and there were barely any other hikers on the trail. Although the incline is easy going, I would rate it more difficult because of the roots that are very much a part of the trail in certain areas. There were a few spots where the roots were tricky to get through and very muddy. Other than that, I loved the hike and the views were amazing. I can't wait to visit again and take more friends here!
09/19/2018
Check out my full review here! https://www.chasingkirby.com/travel/cape-lookout-trail-hike-oregon/

I hiked the Cape Lookout Trail in September and it was amazing. With only little elevation gain, most can conquer this fun hike. It took me a total of four hours to complete, including lots of stops for photo ops I just couldn't pass up, plus a 30 minute snack break at the halfway point.

It's perfect for dogs, little kidos, and I saw plenty of retirees making their way along the Cape Lookout Trail at an impressive pace.

The trail starts off going slightly downhill along a well kept dirt pathway. It invites you in with its overgrown, bright polypody ferns in every brilliant shade of green imaginable. Tall Sitka Spruce trees line the path and fill the forest before dropping off at the coastline, stretching straight up into the sky, providing a cool shade for most of the journey.

Here, you will find a true Pacific Northwest wet landscape. The moisture in the air provides the perfect conditions for plant life to flourish in an already teaming forest. Rocks, branches, and entire tree trunks are covered in luscious blankets of soft moss, which sprout even more miniature plants.

Overgrown tree roots tangle themselves across the pathways as you continue along the trail. This may create a slight footing challenge, especially if there's been a recent rainfall like the day I hiked the Cape Lookout Trail. Boardwalks have been placed over the worst areas but I'd still say a good pair of hiking boots will go along way on this hike.

About halfway through the hike, you'll begin to come up to small openings in the brush. You'll only need to take a few steps off the forest trail to be entranced by the magic of the Oregon coast. The vast blue sea stretches all the way from the distant pale beaches to the far-off horizon. Be careful not to get too close to the edge. About a 400ft vertical drop stands between you and the waves crashing below.

You'll reach the furthest point on this out-and-back trail after about 1.5 miles of hiking. As you exit the enclosed forest, the trail will open up to 180-degree views. Here, you will find a lovely stopping point with a bench or rocks to sit on and rest as you enjoy the breathtaking ocean view that expands both to the north and south.

Take some photos and return the way you came.
09/22/2016
The hike out to the end of Cape Lookout is really enjoyable. Great views and beautiful old-growth forest. We had a sunny fall day to enjoy it.
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