How to See the Best of Cannon Beach on Foot
Cannon Beach is a great walking destination. Once you arrive and are parked, there are several rewarding walking routes that connect our small downtown commercial area to midtown, home to some of the town’s largest hotels and popular restaurants. If you’ve ever struggled to drive and park on a busy summer day in Cannon Beach, you’ll appreciate these walking options that offer relaxing and scenic strolls. The downtown and midtown areas are only about a half-mile, or 10-minute walk apart, but these route options will encourage you to turn your walk into a leisurely stroll. With four different routes to choose from, you can also turn your walk into a loop offering different experiences in both directions.
There’s a reason the beach is a favorite choice for locals to get around on foot. It is without a doubt the most scenic walk in town. The sandy walk may slow you down, but with scenery like Haystack Rock to the south and the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse offshore to the north, you'll want to slow down and enjoy every step.
Start (or end) your walk at the Gower Street beach access in midtown, located just west of public parking and between two of Cannon Beach’s most popular resorts: The Hallmark and Surfsand. To get to downtown, just walk north. After about 10 minutes of walking, you will be parallel with the south end of downtown. There are beach accesses at the end of every street as you approach downtown, but the 2nd Street stairway (about a 15-minute walk) near the outlet of Ecola Creek will drop you right into the heart of downtown. To enjoy all of the views of Cannon Beach’s oceanfront homes and resorts, you can continue five minutes to Whale Park in the north end of downtown. Look for the whale sculpture at the beach access.
Oceanfront stroll without the sand
If you want the beach views, but want to skip walking through soft sand, a walk along Ocean Avenue between midtown and downtown is your ticket to scenic panoramas without getting a shoe full of sand. This route starts as a walking path at the end of W. Harrison St just north of the Surfsand Resort. After walking through a short corridor of shrubbery, the route becomes Ocean Avenue with benches and beach accesses all along its route. At W. Jefferson, the route becomes a paved sidewalk for a block before returning to Ocean Avenue again. At W. Washington Street, you turn east where you can reach Cannon Beach’s main thoroughfare, S. Hemlock Street just a block from downtown, or you can opt to continue north on S. Laurel Street through a pretty neighborhood, two blocks to W. 1st Street where you can return to Hemlock Street downtown. In total, this is a leisurely half mile or 15-minute walk.
Nature trail combines woodlands, wetlands and creekside views
It may be one of Cannon Beach’s best kept secrets. Although our stunning beach rightfully gets most of the attention, just three blocks to the east of the oceanfront, the Cannon Beach Nature Trail reveals another side of Cannon Beach, with a boardwalk through wetlands, a trail through a beautiful Spruce forest and serene creekside views. Elk, river otters and a myriad of birds make this the perfect trek if you love wildlife.
Begin (or end) this walk in midtown at Gower Street near City Hall and public parking. Walk east on Gower to Spruce Street and enter the trail across the street. A short section of trail passes through woodlands, including a wetlands boardwalk, then emerges in a residential area at S. Elm Street. Continue north on S. Elm Street three blocks where the trail begins again at E. Monroe, passing through a thick forest of Sitka Spruce. The trail emerges at the Cannon Beach water treatment facility. Stay left where year-round birdlife and abundant blackberries in season are the highlights as you cross over a small bridge and emerge on the west side of the water treatment ponds, another great birdwatching location. At the north end of the ponds, you reach E. 2nd Street where you can walk west into the heart of downtown. To this point, the trail is a little over a half-mile with a total walking time of about 15 minutes, but you can also continue along the nature trail that skirts the edge of City Park. This peaceful paved portion of the Nature Trail follows a curve of Ecola Creek before emerging at Fir Street. Crossing Fir Street, you can rejoin the wood chip trail along the creek at Necus Park, looping around where the trail ends at the end of North Spruce Street which will lead you into the north end of downtown.
The presidential streets and neighborhoods
A sidewalk stroll connects midtown to downtown along S. Hemlock Street past private homes and small lodgings criss-crossing Cannon Beach’s presidential streets. From the public parking at Gower Street in midtown, it’s a direct walk of less than a half-mile to the north end of downtown. For a different look at the neighborhoods in Cannon Beach, you can also walk S. Spruce Street, a block to the west, a narrow street with no sidewalks, but classic Cannon Beach. To extend your walk and get a feeling for Cannon Beach’s presidential streets neighborhood, you can do a zig-zag or two between Hemlock, Spruce and Ocean Avenue to enjoy a look at historic cottages, upscale beach houses and million dollar oceanfront homes as you make your way between midtown and downtown. Go ahead and wander. It’s impossible to get lost with the Pacific Ocean always within listening distance to the west.