Your Guide to Oswald West State Park – Hikes, Camping, and More!

Though it spans just four miles of Oregon’s coastline, Oswald West State Park packs a ton of scenery within its borders. You’ll find mountain views, stunning coastline bordered by dramatic cliffs, waterfalls, lush temperate rainforest, open meadows, and wildlife all around!

A visit to Oswald West State Park is a must, whether you’re taking a road trip along the Oregon coast, or planning a getaway to Cannon Beach!

This guide will tell you everything you need to prepare for this gem on the Oregon Coast- the best hikes in Oswald West State Park, places to stay, 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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How to Get to Oswald West State Park

First things first – how do you get to Oswald West State Park?

Oswald West is located less than 10 miles south of Cannon Beach – so it’s perfect for a day trip, or if you want to spend a few days exploring the hiking trails!

If you’re flying for your adventure at Oswald West State Park, you’ll fly into the Portland International Airport (PDX).

Whether you fly first or drive here, you will need a car to get to Oswald west State Park. For rentals, I recommend booking ahead of time – you can use Discover Cars or Rental Cars.

Another option is to 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. You’ll pass Cannon Beach, and most visitors to the Oregon Coast make a stop here – so get out for a few photos of the iconic haystack rock, then continue on just a few miles, and you’ll be at Oswald West State Park. 

A girl in a yellow rainjacket is hiking on a trail at Oswald West State Park.

The Best Time to Visit Oswald West State Park

The most popular time to visit Oswald West State Park 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 hike and explore at Oswald West State Park 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. 

The Best Hikes at Oswald West State Park

There are miles of hiking trails at Oswald West State Park – but to help narrow down your options, here are my favorite trails!

Short Sands Beach

Short Sands Beach is 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 a great place to go. 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

A surfboard is leaning on driftwood on the beach at Oswald West State Park.

Cape Falcon

The Cape Falcon trail is breathtaking the entire way. 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

The view from the top of the Cape Falcon hiking trail at Oswald West State Park.

elk Flats

The Elk Flats trail is short, and incredibly scenic! 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

Camping Near Oswald West State Park

You can camp near Oswald West State Park and spend several days exploring the trails! Here are my favorite ways to find campsites.

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!

To find free camping near Oswald West State Park, I recommend using The Dyrt. It’s my favorite way to find places to stay, and you’ll find all sorts of campgrounds nearby!

Best Places to Stay Near Oswald West State Park

If you don’t feel like camping, there are plenty of other options for places to stay near Oswald West State Park!

Close to the park, 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.

On this map of Oswald State Park, the little hiker icons will show you the exact location of each trailhead,  and the orange bed icons are places to stay!

Things to Bring to Oswald West State Park

To help you pack for your trip to Oswald West State Park, 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 at Oswald West State Park. 

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!

More to Do Near Oswald West State Park

Have you been to Oswald State Park, or are you planning a trip? Let me know if you have recommendations or questions  in the comments below!

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