With Ecola State Park Closed, Here Are Some Great Alternatives
Even with the entrance road to Ecola State Park closed indefinitely due to slides, you don’t have to miss some of the Oregon Coast’s grandest views, best rainforest hiking trails or tucked away beaches on your Cannon Beach visit. Here are some great alternatives just minutes from Cannon Beach:
Old Growth Hiking
Although the Tillamook Head trail in Ecola State Park is a gem, the best old-growth forest hike in the area may be 15-minute drive to the south in Oswald West State Park. The Cape Falcon Trail cuts through lush old growth forest and offers peekaboo views south to Smuggler’s Cove and Short Sand Beach. At the end of the cape, you emerge from the forest and walk through hedges of salal and wild roses to be rewarded with stunning views of cliffs and coves to the north and south. Cape Falcon is roughly a 5-mile round trip hike and can be reached from the trailhead at the northernmost parking lot on the west side of the highway.
Haystack Rock Viewpoints
The view of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock from Ecola State Park is undoubtedly grand, but just past the southernmost Cannon Beach exit on US 101, highway-side pullouts offer views back north to Cannon Beach as well as westerly views to Jockey Cap Rock and Silver Point; and southerly views to Lion Rock at Arcadia Beach. Scan the treetops for perched Bald Eagles!
Panoramic Coastline Views
While Ecola State Park offers several miles of coastline views to the south, the highway-side pullouts in Oswald West State Park are just as breathtaking. In less than a 20-minute drive from downtown Cannon Beach, you reach the first, and largest, of the roadside pullouts with birds-eye views from hundreds of feet up on the edge of Neahkahnie Mountain overlooking the town of Manzanita and Nehalem Bay; with Cape Meares and Cape Lookout in the distance. In March and April, you’re likely to spot whale spouts. For a short, but dramatic diversion, you can walk the tenth-of-a-mile trail to Devil’s Cauldron from the graveled pullout and trailhead just to the south.
A Tucked Away Beach
While Ecola State park offers easy access to Indian Beach in the north end of the park and the hike-in Crescent Beach to the south, it’s hard to compete with the beauty of Short Sand Beach about 10 miles south of Cannon Beach in Oswald West State Park. An easy trail leads alongside babbling Short Sand Creek to emerge at the picture-perfect cove beach. The short walk to the north end of the beach offers views of tumbling Blumenthal Falls. You’re likely to share the beach with surfers who enjoy some of the best surf breaks in Oregon. You can extend your outing by walking one of the crossing trails through old-growth and along beautiful Necarney Creek on your return to the main parking area at Oswald West State Park.