Cannon Beach's Four Best Beach Walks
It’s right there in the name of our town, but Cannon Beach is so much more than just another stretch of sand. You can take in views of the appropriately named Bird Rocks of Chapman Point toward the north end of the beach, wander past iconic Haystack Rock and the Needles at the center of it all or take a jaunt past less crowded tidepools at Silver Point toward sphynx-like Lion Rock in the south, enjoying bird watching, tidepools and even a taste of history as you go. Here is a list of our favorite Cannon Beach walks:
Downtown to Haystack Rock
The most popular approach to our favorite landmark takes you briefly along the south bank of Ecola Creek, presenting the opportunity for great views to the north of Chapman Point and a nice walk south to Haystack Rock for tide-pooling, birdwatching, beachcombing, or photos. During low tides from February through October, look for the red Haystack Rock Awareness Program truck near the Rock. These interpretive volunteers are stewards of the Rock. They are happy to answer questions about everything from tidepool critters to local birds and often have binoculars or spotting scopes on hand for you to use. If you’re visiting between April and August, ask for help catching sight of the comical Tufted Puffins that return yearly to nest and raise their young. Getting there: Walk west on 2nd Street from Downtown and head south to catch glimpses of Haystack Rock from the north. Distance: 2 miles, out and back.
Tolovana Wayside to Haystack Rock
This scenic walk offers an alternative look at Haystack Rock’s south side, along with pretty views of lovely beach houses and gorgeous resorts a little farther off the beaten path. As a bonus, this walk also offers the best views of the historic West-Bouvy cabin on the hillside above the Rock. This cabin was originally built in 1913 as a summer retreat by Governor Oswald West. He played a significant role in laying the groundwork for the iconic Beach Bill, declaring Oregon beaches public lands for all to enjoy. The current home is a private residence and an almost exact reproduction, down to the materials used, built after a fire claimed the original. Getting there: Park at the Tolovana Wayside and walk north along the beach. Distance: 1.75 miles, out and back.
North of Ecola Creek to Chapman Point
Regardless of the season, this walk will reveal a rocky shoreline, pristine beach, gorgeous dunes, excellent bird-watching opportunities, and a bit more solitude than more popular sections of our coast. In any season, you may discover Ecola Creek teeming with waterfowl and shorebirds, and the rocks at Chapman Point overflow with a noisy Common Murre colony in the summer. In the winter, you might see huge waves crashing against the shore. Depending on the season and weather, you could even come within sight of the local elk herd, depending on the season and weather. If you’re up for it, climb one of the dunes for some great photos complete with beach grasses, the dunes themselves, and either Chapman Point to the north or Haystack Rock in the distance to the south. If the tide is low enough, you can cross the point on foot and venture to secluded Crescent Beach. Getting there: Park in the lot at Les Shirley Park, walk south from either end of the lot and drop down onto the bank of meandering Ecola Creek. Follow the flat beach around the dunes to the right, and you’ll get your first glimpse of Chapman Point. Distance: 1.5 miles, out and back.
Tolovana Wayside to Arcadia Beach
Walking south from the Tolovana Wayside, you’ll find fewer crowds and some eye-catching (if slightly more petite than Haystack) sea stacks with tidepools of their own in the summertime. As you near Silver Point and Jockey Cap Rocks, pay close attention, and you may catch sight of a pair of Bald Eagles that frequent this area. (Note: Silver Point is not passable at high tide, so plan your timing appropriately.) Wander far enough south, and you may find yourself at Arcadia Beach, where Lion Rock stands as a sphynx-like sentinel at the beach's edge, with Cape Falcon looming in the distance to the south. Getting there: Park at the Tolovana Wayside and walk south along the beach. Length: 2 miles out and back to Silver Point and 3.5 out and back to Arcadia Beach.
Things to Remember
All of these walks can be combined for longer adventures, but always check the tide tables and plan walks that involve crossing creeks or traversing around points accordingly. Remember never to turn your back on the ocean and to check beach information signs and local news for any potential warnings or hazards before any day at the beach.