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Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,117.00 ft (340.46 m)
Trail type
10.60 mi (17.06 km)
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The Tillamook Head Trail is a fantastic choice for those interested in a generous sample of what makes the Northern Oregon Coast such a unique destination.  The trail runs between the town of Seaside and Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach, so you have the opportunity to hike one way once you’ve set a shuttle.  This report is written for the there-and-back hike starting at Indian Beach.  Completing the trail as a there-and-back trip does take some time and energy, especially as the elevation gain will be doubled on the return.  On the other hand, the scenery is incredible and worth a second look on your return trip.

Starting from the Indian Beach parking lot, hike north on a gravel road for 1.5 miles until you reach Hiker’s Camp.  Three shelters offer four bunks each on a first-come, first-served basis, and you may camp with a tent if the shelters are full.  A short walk west takes you past an old military bunker before leading you to views of Terrible Tilly, the battered, besieged and occasionally submerged lighthouse on Tillamook Rock.  Visit for a quick, remarkable history of this lonely lighthouse.

To continue to the Seaside Trailhead, return to Hiker’s Camp and continue north on the Tillamook Head Trail.  The wide gravel trail gives way to a narrow, boggy and frequently log-jammed path for the next 4 miles. The trail condition is rough enough to slow your pace at times, whether by obstructions or bogs, so plan accordingly. Giant Sitka spruce and hemlock lie around like storm wreckage, serving as eerie reminders of the gale force winds that hit the headlands during soggy winters. 

Grand views extend out over the ocean from the small clearings, and the trail keeps very close to the cliff for much of the way.  As you walk south toward Indian Beach on the return, ponder the views and conditions experienced by William Clark, Sacajawea and other members of the Corps of Discovery as they walked the very same trail toward Cannon Beach in hope of purchasing whale blubber.

Note that overnight parking is prohibited in Ecola State Park. Hikers staying overnight on the trail will need to arrange for transportation to the trailhead from outside of the park.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

State Park Fee


Great views. Camping shelters. Lush costal forest. Potential for one-way with shuttle.


Trail gets soggy. Fallen trees. Long hike as a there-and-back.

Trailhead Elevation

32.00 ft (9.75 m)


Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Big vistas
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day



Nearby Lodging + Camping


You cannot park overnight in Ecola State Park ($110 fine). I think this should be included in the field guide, because as it is written it seems to suggest that you could park at Indian Beach and expect to spend the night at hiker's camp.
Did this hike last weekend (4/15 - 4/16/2017) as an overnight through hike from Seaside to Cannon Beach. We parked in Seaside just north of the main parking lot because it was marked as "no overnight parking", and we staged a second car at Les Shirley Park in Cannon Beach since there is technically no overnight parking within Ecola State park. Also, the park was closed this week due to some road repairs. The ranger said to expect the park to reopen sometime during mid-week. Just call ahead to see if it's open. The hike itself was beautiful! There are sections of the trail that have been washed out due to land slides, and many downed trees, but it is passible. It's also very muddy right now. Gaiters were a great way to keep dirt out of our boots. The 4 mile section from Seaside to the camping shelters on Tillamook head blew my mind! I've hiked other sections of the Oregon coast before, but this section of trail was magical. The hikers camp was cozy with 3 shelters, each contained two sets of wooden bunks. We brought mats and sleeping bags and it was perfect. All together I think we did about 10 miles. It was a great overnight backpacking trip.
Definitely worth doing as a thru-hike overnighter. Especially if you can find space in one of the adirondack shelters.
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A profound concept originally envisioned by governor Oswald West, in 1967 the Oregon legislature ultimately realized his vision of making the entire Oregon Coast forever open to the public in a piece of landmark legislation titled the Oregon Beach Bill, officially making all 363 miles public land. "The People's Coast" is truly a one-of-a-kind coastline, a unique blend of mountains and rocky stacks, towering old growth forests, marine sanctuaries, tide pools and kelp forests, charming towns, historic fishing communities, world-class golfing, breweries, and simply jaw-dropping scenic beaches. We encourage you to plan your next trip at or by calling (541) 574-2679.

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