The 12 Best Hikes on the Oregon Coast for Jaw Dropping Coastal Views

I think I speak for just about everyone when I say the Oregon coast is one of the most amazing places the US has to offer. With cliffside views, hikes along the coast, and scenic overlooks at every turn, you could explore forever! 

While Cannon Beach and Cape Kiwanda are beautiful (and worth a stop if you’re on an Oregon coast road trip), sometimes you want to get off the beaten path a little, and explore secluded beaches, old growth forests, and cliffs over the ocean.

In this guide, I’ll tell you about the best hikes on the Oregon coast, and everything you’ll need to know to plan your adventure!

Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because these are all apps I love and use, and sharing them helps me keep making free guides for you!

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How to Get to the Hiking Trails on the Oregon Coast

Whether hiking along the Oregon coast is a day trip or part of a road trip down, you’ll need a car to get to the trails! 

If you’re flying for your adventure at Cannon Beach, you’ll fly into the Portland International Airport (PDX). You will need to rent a car to get to the hiking trails, and I recommend booking ahead of time – you can use Discover Cars or Rental Cars.

You can turn this into a fun, unique camping trip and rent a tiny home on wheels! With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans.

The route is easy – from Portland, head west on Highway 26 until you reach the coast, where you’ll turn onto Route 101. Most of the best hikes on the Oregon coast are south of Cannon Beach, but there are a few up north as well!

The Best Time for Hiking on the Oregon Coast

The most popular time to visit the Oregon coast is summer. The Oregon coast is notoriously rainy, and summer offers a break from the gloomy skies (sometimes). The weather is warm and sunny, and great for hiking!

However, I think the best time to hit the hiking trails along the Oregon coast is fall. In September and October, there are fewer people out and about, so you’re likely to get the views to yourself! The temperatures are still moderate (in the 50s), so just bring a rain jacket and be prepared for muddy trails. But, there’s truly no bad time to hike on the Oregon coast.

Things to Bring When Hiking on the Oregon Coast

To help you pack for your trip to hike the trails along the Oregon coast, here are some things to bring with you!

Waterproof Hiking Shoes

After it rains, the trails on the Oregon coast get really muddy! So waterproof shoes are a must if you’re planning on hiking along the coast. 

My favorite hiking boots are my Danner boots – they’re cute, comfortable, and waterproof! I also love hiking in my Chacos, but I would only recommend sandals in the summer on the Oregon coast – any other time of year is just too muddy! Rain boots are another great option for muddy trails, and are definitely the easiest to clean.

Bonus Tip: A lot of these links are for my favorite place to buy outdoor gear – Backcountry. If you install the free Lolli extension on your browser, you can earn free Bitcoin when you shop online at certain retailers, including Backcountry.  Download Lolli here!

Rain Jacket or Windbreaker

The Oregon Coast is known for moody weather. It rains often, but even if rain isn’t in the forecast, I recommend bringing a windbreaker any time you’re going to be by the water. Even in the summer, the ocean “breeze” is more like a strong wind, and even on a sunny day you’ll get chilly fast!

The Marmot Minimalist Jacket is a great lightweight, waterproof option for hiking in the rain. For windbreakers, the RVCA Meyer Packable Anorack Jacket is cute, and folds up nice and small! For added warmth and layering, add a a Patagonia fleece.

Backpack

You need somewhere to put your snacks! And your hiking gear, of course.

When I’m bringing my camera gear, my favorite backpack is the Alex Strohl Mountain Light. It’s definitely the best camera bag out there for hiking with photo gear. If you don’t need storage for camera stuff, I recommend an Osprey Hikelite. For day trips or short hikes when I don’t need to pack too much, I love my Topo Designs Y-Pack!

Hydration!

Especially when you’re hiking or exploring outdoors, it’s important to stay hydrated! Single use water bottles are, of course, terrible for the environment, so avoid that and bring a reusable one!

For hiking, the CamelBak water reservoirs are convenient and easy – they can fit in your hiking backpack for water on the go. Nalgene water bottles are great for day to day, and if you want an insulated water bottle to keep your water cold and refreshing, Hydro Flasks are the best!

The Best Hikes on the Northern Oregon Coast

The Northern Oregon Coast is the most popular for travelers. The dramatic coastlines are dotted with historic cities, and cute beach towns. Cannon Beach is the most iconic spot on the Northern Oregon Coast, but there are plenty of hiking trails around that are less popular!

Here are the best hikes on the Northern Oregon Coast!

Cathedral Tree Trail - Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon is a port town on the Columbia River, close to where the river meets the Pacific Ocean. The Cathedral Tree trail is located in a residential neighborhood, offering a little natural oasis amongst the urban piece of the Oregon Coast. The short trail will take you to a 300 year old Sitka Spruce that towers over the mossy forest. Continue on from there, and you’ll climb up a hill to reach views of the river!

Length: 1.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 393 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Crescent beach trail - Ecola State Park

In Ecola State Park, you’ll find the Crescent Beach trail. The trail leads you through lush greenery and old growth forest, offering the occasional peek at the ocean – until you get to Crescent Beach! The beach is only accessible by hiking, so it’s secluded, and the wide open space amongst the unique sea stacks and rocky formations means you’ll have the beach practically to yourself.

Length: 2.3 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 538 feet
Difficulty: moderate

Short Sands beach trail - Oswald West State Park

Located in Oswald West State Park, the Short Sands Beach trail leads to one of the best surfing beaches on the Oregon coast – so whether you want to jump in and ride the waves, or just enjoy the scenery, this is one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast. The hike is paved and easy, so it’s perfect for stretching your legs – low effort, with an incredibly scenic payoff!

The cove is enveloped by stunning limestone cliffs and rocky formations, and there’s even a waterfall on the beach.

Distance: 1.2 mi roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 82 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Cape Falcon trail - Oswald West State Park

The Cape Falcon trail is breathtaking the entire way. This one is in Oswald West State Park as well, and it climbs steadily through old growth forest, with lush ferns and mossy trees all around, until it opens up to a view of Short Sands Beach below. Continue hiking, and you’ll end up at a breathtaking vista with views of the ocean!

Length: 4.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 623 feet
Difficulty: moderate

Elk Flats trail - Oswald West State Park

The Elk Flats trail is short, and incredibly scenic! This is definitely one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast, and one of my favorites. You’ll find view of Devil’s Cauldron – where the waves beat against the steep cliff, creating a swirling pool of ocean foam, as well as a sweeping view of the ocean where you can stand on top of a cliff for a magical experience.

Length: 2.9 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 616 feet
Difficulty: moderate

The Best Hikes on the Central Oregon Coast

The Central Oregon Coast features lighthouses, beach towns, and scenic drives that take you along the ocean. There’s plenty to do, and plenty of trails waiting to be hiked! Here are the best hikes on the Central Oregon Coast.

God's Thumb - Lincoln City, Oregon

God’s Thumb is truly one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been. The hike is steep – but so worth it! 

You’ll climb through old growth forest covered in mossy trees and ancient ferns, until you get to this vista, where the cliff is shaped like a thumb, creating an insane, jaw dropping scene over the ocean.

The  last few feet up the actual “thumb” are tough – make sure you have good hiking boots for this hike. Once you’re up there, you’ll have a panoramic view of the ocean and the rocks in the water below. 

Length: 4.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,131 feet
Difficulty: moderate

Saint perpetua Trail - yachats, Oregon

In the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, you’ll find the Saint Perpetua Trail. This gorgeous hike takes you through woods forested by spruce trees and carpeted by wildflowers, and leads to stunning, panoramic views of the Oregon coast. There’s also a river along the way, so the trail offers views from beginning to end! 

Length: 2.7 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 820 feet
Difficulty: moderate

Heceta Head Lighthouse to Hobbit Beach - Florence, Oregon

This trail on the Central Oregon Coast begins at the lighthouse, and takes you through stunning old growth forest. It’s steep and often muddy, but the trail travels up and down for a total of 1,000 feet of elevation gain. You’ll end up at Hobbit Beach, and can make this hike a loop by following the China Creek Trail back to the lighthouse.

Length: 3.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,003 feet
Difficulty: moderate

Captain Cook Trail and Thor's Well - Yachats, Oregon

This short, easy trail is one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast for those who just want a quick stroll or to stretch their legs in the middle of a road trip. The trail is paved, and will take you to Thor’s Well – a really unique spot where a hole in an underwater rock creates a spot that looks like a sinkhole in the Pacific Ocean. The water flows in, creating a turbulent pool.

Length: 0.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 95 feet
Difficulty: easy

The Best Hikes on the Southern Oregon Coast

The Southern Oregon Coast is the most remote, wild part of the state’s coastline. Away from the beach towns, you’ll find trails that are truly off the beaten path! here are the best hikes on the Southern Oregon Coast.

Otter Point Trail - Gold Beach, Oregon

Otter Point is another short, easy trail, and one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast for low effort views! From the parking lot, you’ll walk an easy, but scenic path to the beach, where you can sand on the high cliffs and marvel at the rocky formations down below.

Length: 0.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 32 feet
Difficulty: easy

Secret Beach - Brookings, Oregon

Secret Beach in the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is hard to find – hence the name! This is one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast if you want to explore a secluded beach. The trail is steep, but during the rainy months, you can spot a waterfall along the way. The beach is gorgeous, especially at sunset! 

Length: 1.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 374 feet
Difficulty: moderate

NAtural Bridges Cove - brookings, Oregon

The Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is best known for the natural bridges – the rocky connections between two big sea stacks. The trail is short, but very steep, and muddy! You can walk on the natural bridge, but be extra careful, as it gets slippery.

Length: 0.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 154 feet
Difficulty: moderate

Map of The Best Hikes on the Oregon Coast

On this map, you’ll find all the trails mentioned here, and as a bonus, the best places to stay when you’re hiking along the Oregon Coast! If you’re camping, I recommend The Dyrt to find free campsites!

The little hiker icons will show you the location of each trailhead for these hikes, and the orange bed icons are places to stay.

Have you tried any of these trails, or have more recommendations for the best hikes on the Oregon Coast? Let me know in the comments below!

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