Hike the Cape Falcon Trail on the Oregon Coast

Less than 15 minutes of driving from Cannon Beach, you’ll find one of the most incredible hikes the Oregon coast has to offer – the Cape Falcon trail. Located in Oswald West State Park, the trail takes you through magical old growth forest before opening up to sweeping views of the coast, with rugged cliffs and rocky outcroppings peeking through the water

In this guide, I’ll talk about hiking the Cape Falcon trail – getting to the Cape Falcon trailhead, the best time to hike, what to bring, and more!

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 things I love and use, and sharing them helps me keep making free guides for you!

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About the Cape Falcon Trail

Before we begin the Cape Falcon hike, here are some things to know about the trail!

Cape Falcon Trail: At a Glance

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

The Best Time to Hike the Cape falcon Trail

Summer is the most popular time to hike on the Oregon coast, and that includes the Cape Falcon trail at Oswald West State Park State Park. This time of year is dry and typically sunny. 

However, my favorite time for hiking on the Oregon coast, and for the Cape Falcon trail is fall! I hiked it in October – and while this did mean I had to deal with a little bit of drizzle (nothing a rain jacket can’t handle), it also meant way less people on the trail. I got the top all to myself – pretty amazing, considering how popular the trail is, and the fact that I happened to hike Cape Falcon on a weekend!

Leave No Trace at Cape Falcon

I truly believe that everyone deserves to be able to get outside, and that exploring the outdoors is good for us! But, when sharing these locations with you, I have to be mindful of the fact that the more visitors a place sees, the more damage it sees as well.  

Most of the time, people don’t show up with bad intentions, but we humans often just aren’t aware of how much of an impact we have on the outdoors. The best thing you can do to protect these outdoors spaces is to educate yourself, and others, about Leave No Trace (LNT)

Leave No Trace means enjoying the outdoors without disrupting nature. Here are the 7 principles of LNT, and how they apply on the Cape Falcon trail on the Oregon Coast!

  • Plan ahead and prepare – read this guide, check recent trail conditions, and be ready for muddy conditions. 
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces – stay on the trail, stay off the cliff edges, and avoid trampling the plants!
  • Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash of any kind behind. Pack it out! There is a trash can at the trailhead.
  • Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a rock or a cool leaf, but leave these things where they belong!
  • Minimize campfire impacts – fires are not allowed at Cape Falcon.
  • Respect wildlife – elk and deer frequent the area. give them plenty of space – for their safety and yours. This is their home, so be respectful!
  • Be considerate of other visitors – the trail is narrow in spots. Yield to uphill hikers, and be respectful – no speakers or loud music.
A girl in a yellow rain jacket is looking up at a tall spruce tree on the Cape Falcon trail in Oregon.

Things to Bring to Hike the Cape Falcon Trail

To help you pack for your hike to Cape Falcon, 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 anywhere on 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!

Where to Stay When You Hike the Cape Falcon Trail

If the Cape Falcon trail is a stop on your road trip, or you want to turn this into a fun getaway, there are plenty of places to stay nearby! Oswald West State Park is just a few minutes south of Cannon Beach – a town with plenty of cute accommodations. Here are some of the best places to stay close to the Cape Falcon hike.

An Adorable Cabin

For a unique place to stay during your trip, check out Hipcamp! It’s like Airbnb for campsites – and you can find yurts, cabins, glamping sites, and more.  There are several cute cabins to stay in near Oswald West Park, adding a fun experience to your trip, and a great place to relax after a hike!

You can even get $10 off your first booking here!

A Camper van

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.

Whether you car camp, tent camp, or rent a tiny home on wheels, The Dyrt is the best way to find campsites!

A Beachfront Inn

Close to the Cape Falcon trail, you’ll find the town of Cannon Beach – with incredible getaways and places to stay for a relaxing trip! Here are a few of the best places to stay.

Tolovana Inn – a beachfront inn with an indoor saltwater pool, hot tub, and sauna!
Webb’s Scenic Surf – just steps from the beach and the iconic Haystack Rock
Puffin Place Cabana – a fully outfitted vacation home for a private stay right on the water

Equally close, but to the south, is Manzanita, Oregon – a smaller town, offering some quiet, beachfront accommodations! Here are the best places to stay in Manzanita.

Cabin on the Coast – a cute, private cabin with a balcony
Edgecliff – mountain views, ocean views, and a hot tub! Just 1.5 miles from Short Sands Beach.
Cottage by the Sea – an adorable, private cottage just a few steps from the ocean

On this map, the little hiker icon will show you the exact location of the Cape Falcon trailhead,  and the orange bed icons are places to stay!

The Cape Falcon trailhead.

Cape Falcon Trailhead

The Cape Falcon trailhead is well marked and easy to find. Typing “Cape Falcon trailhead” into Google Maps will take you there.

The trailhead coordinates are 45.76312, -123.95607.

The parking lot is pretty small, so if you’re planning to hike Cape Falcon during the summer, or on a weekend, I recommend getting there early – or later in the evening. 

To begin your hike, you’ll see this sign, with some details about the trail and some safety warnings.

Hiking the Cape Falcon Trail

From the Cape Falcon trailhead, the hike begins by taking you through old growth forest, with mossy trees, Jurrasic Park-esque ferns, and stunning greenery.

A girl in a yellow rain jacket is hiking the Cape Falcon trail, looking to her left at a wall of ferns.

At first, you’ll hear some highway noise – but this will quickly get replaced by the sounds of the crashing ocean in the distance. Watch your step, as there are tree roots sprawled across the trail, along with plenty of muddy spots. Luckily, there are conveniently placed tree stumps and logs over the deepest wet spots!

Continue on through the forest, listening as the ocean gets louder. Soon, you’ll see the sky peek through the trees in the distance, signaling that you’re getting close to the ocean views!

A girl in a yellow rain jacket is on the Cape Falcon hiking trail, looking up at a tall spruce tree on her right.
A girl in a yellow rain jacket is on the Cape Falcon hiking trail, looking up at a tall spruce tree on her right.

You’ll cross a cute wooden bridge over a stream. Soon after, as you emerge from the wooded trail, you’ll be greeted with your first vista over the sea – down below is Short Sands Beach, where even on the cold, rainy, days, you can spot surfers sprinkled across the waves.

The view is incredible, but it’s nothing compared to what’s waiting at the top. Carry on through the mud, and soon, you’ll get to a fork in the trail. To the left, the trail climbs upwards to the Cape Falcon viewpoint. To the right, you can extend your trek by a few miles and continue on the Arch Cape trail. 

To finish the Cape Falcon trail, I went left. After a quick walk through some tall shrubbery, you’ll be at the top! 

The Cape Falcon overlook, with a cliff over the ocean.

Here, you’ll see an incredible, panoramic view of the beach below, and the ocean – with these rocky cliff sides jutting out above the water.

Be careful here – it’s muddy, and the cliff edges can be unstable! Walk around for different views of Cape Falcon, and enjoy the scenery. This is a great place for a snack before you head back down to the Cape Falcon trailhead.

The Cape Falcon overlook, with a cliff over the ocean.

More Hikes Near the Cape Falcon Trail

 

Have you hiked the Cape Falcon trail at Oswald West State Park, or any of these other hikes on the Oregon coast? Let me know in the comments below! 

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