Dramatic sea stacks. Lush coastal forests. Rugged cliffs, jutting out of the turquoise sea below. While Cannon Beach is primarily known for its towering monolith, Haystack Rock, which rises out of the Pacific some 235-feet, this tiny town and its surrounding coastline offers so much more incredible natural beauty than that. In fact, there’s tons of amazing hikes near Cannon Beach, allowing you to get up-close-and-personal with the Oregon coast’s breathtaking beauty.
So pack up the car and let’s hit the road- here’s 11 spectacular hikes near Cannon Beach.
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Table of Contents:
- What to know before hiking near Cannon Beach
- 11 amazing hikes near Cannon Beach
- When to visit Cannon Beach
- What to pack for hiking near Cannon Beach
Psssst… are you heading to the Oregon Coast? I’m jealous- I may just be a little obsessed with this incredible place. You may want to check out these other posts:
What to know before hiking near Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach and the surrounding area makes you feel like a little kid again- you’ll hike through magical forests dripping with moss, scramble over enormous pieces of driftwood, and explore hidden coves. I mean, it’s basically like you’re starring in your very own rendition of The Goonies!
But before we dive into all the cool hikes near Cannon Beach, there’s a few things you should know before your visit:
- If you’re flying in to visit the coastline, I’d highly recommend renting a car to get to and from the trailheads and to explore Cannon Beach and the surrounding area. Several of these trails are inaccessible via public transit and cell service is too spotty in these parts to rely on rideshare apps. Plus the Oregon Coast is basically made for road trips!
- Fun fact you may have heard about the Pacific Northwest- it can, at times, be quite rainy. And when you mix rain with dirt hiking trails, you get… mud! Like, LOTS of mud. So be sure to pack proper footwear that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty, like these hiking boots for men or these for women, and embrace the mud- it’ll make your trip a lot more fun, I promise!
- The Oregon Coast is full of breathtaking natural beauty, from its beautiful forests to its stunning seascapes. When you’re out enjoying the trails, be sure to protect this incredible place for generations to come by following the Leave No Trace principles, These include things like planning ahead and being prepared (pack it in, pack it out) and only traveling and camping on durable surfaces (be sure to stay on the trail and not take any shortcuts, especially down coastal hills- they can lead to landslides!).
11 amazing hikes near Cannon Beach
And with that, let’s get to the good stuff- all those awesome trails near Cannon Beach!
1. Indian Beach Trail
Trailhead location: Here in Ecola State Park, 10 minutes north of Cannon Beach
Length: 4.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 777 feet
Fee: $5 day use fee for Ecola State Park
Description: Along this trail, you’ll start in a lush forest that feels like something straight out of a fairy tale, with grand sitka spruces and enormous ferns. After winding up and down the rolling hills of the forest, you’ll eventually make your way closer to the coast’s cliffs and be provided some peek-a-boo views of the turquoise water below.
Eventually, you’ll be spit out onto Indian Beach, with the Sea Lion Rock arch and dozens of other sea stacks scattered to the horizon. The beach’s rugged beauty can’t be overstated- it’s so picturesque, in fact, it’s been used as a shooting location for both Twilight and The Goonies!
2. Crescent Beach
Trailhead location: Here in Ecola State Park, 10 minutes north of Cannon Beach
Length: 2.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 538 feet
Fee: $5 day use fee for Ecola State Park
Description: Want to explore one of Oregon Coast’s most stunning beaches- but without all of the other tourists? Given this hike is something of a hidden gem, you may be able to snag Crescent, just north of Cannon Beach, all to yourself. You’ll follow this trail up into a beautiful coastal forest and under a canopy of western hemlock and cedar trees. After about 0.9 miles, you’ll reach some steep switchbacks, carved into the cliffside- as you follow the trail down, you’ll catch glimpses of the sparkling water through the dense treeline.
The trail ends at Crescent Beach, tucked away between Ecola and Chapman Points, with plenty of things to explore on its shore. On the north side of the beach, you’ll find a cave, a waterfall, and even two tunnels you can walk through (during low tide only- check the tide tables here) and on the south side, there’s some wonderful tide pools, teeming with sea critters (also at low tide). All of these fascinating features make the tough hike back uphill worth it!
3. Tillamook Head
Length: 12.2 miles as an out-and-back trail. Note that some hikers choose to only hike this trail one-way, having someone either pick them up at one end of the trail or leaving a car at both the start and beginning of the trail.
Elevation gain: 3,005 feet
Fee: $5 day use fee for Ecola State Park (if you choose to start at Indian Beach)
Description: This hike follows along the westernmost point of Lewis’ and Clark’s expedition, when, in 1806, they went searching to purchase whale blubber from the locals at Tillamook Head. While this hike is quite long, you’ll still get a lot of bang for all that mileage you’re putting in, given how many unique features you’ll see along the way.
Besides the “same old, same old” gorgeous old-growth forests and craggy beaches full of picturesque sea stacks, you’ll also get views of “Terrible Tilly”, a famously doomed lighthouse due to the particularly harsh conditions off Tillamook Head; an overgrown World War II radar station bunker; and quirky little log cabins for backpackers on a first-come, first-serve basis.
4. Cape Falcon
Trailhead location: Here in Oswald West State Park, located 14 minutes south of Cannon Beach
Length: 4.6 miles
Elevation gain: 623 feet
Description: The Cape Falcon Trail begins in a beautiful lush forest and eventually follows along the edge of the rugged coastline. You’ll pass by Short Sands Beach below, one of the best spots along the Oregon Coast for surfers- be sure to stop for a few minutes and watch these hearty souls catching some sick waves in the Pacific’s chilly waters.
You’ll continue on, curving your way out to the right of Smuggler’s Cove and on top of Cape Falcon. From here, you’ll reach the top of jagged cliffs and be provided with incredible views of the cove, the rocky outcroppings jutting out of the ocean, and Neahkahnie Mountain towering above. When my husband, Justin, and I visited in the summertime, the cliffside was also blanketed with a thick carpet of wildflowers, like daisies and Columbia lily.
5 . Elk Flats
Trailhead location: Here in Oswald West State Park, 14 minutes south of Cannon Beach
Length: 2.9 miles
Elevation gain: 616 feet
Description: You’ll start this trail in a thick coastal meadow, which overlooks the waves crashing against the rugged cliffs below.
There’s several branches you can follow along the trail:
- The first, you’ll reach along the trail (just 0.2 miles in) leads directly to some of the most dramatic views of the Oregon coastline’s cliffs (but word of warning- it was SUPER overgrown when we visited and full of horrifying snake sounds in the underbrush!).
- You’ll hit the second branch 0.4 miles in, which will lead you to an overlook for the intense-sounding Devil’s Cauldron, a small cove of impossibly turquoise water some 800 feet below.
- Lastly, you can follow the trail as it weaves through a thick forest and down onto the shores of Short Sands Beach, where you can take in the views of the rugged headlands surrounding the beach and see some of those badass surfers in action up close.
6. Rockaway Big Tree Boardwalk
Trailhead location: Here, located 36 minutes south of Cannon Beach
Length: 1.2 miles
Elevation gain: 42 feet
Description: This wheelchair-accessible trail is perfect for beginner hikers or those just looking to stretch their legs while they’re driving down the coastline from Cannon Beach. You’ll follow a wooden boardwalk over a coastal bog, with skunk cabbage, salal, and salmonberry lining the trail.
After 0.5 miles of snaking your way through the marshland, you’ll get to meet the tiny town of Rockaway Beach’s largest resident- and one of the biggest trees in Oregon- a 154-feet tall and 49-feet in circumference cedar tree. The boardwalk here encircles the base of the tree, allowing you to observe the beautiful behemoth (estimated to be between 500-900 years old), in all of its gnarled glory.
7. Cape Lookout Trail
Trailhead location: Here in Cape Lookout State Park, located an hour and 16 minutes south of Cannon Beach
Length: 5.0 miles
Elevation gain: 930 feet
Description: Towering 800 feet above the ocean below, Cape Lookout provides some of the best opportunities to spot any of the 20,000 migrating gray whales that navigate around the park’s two-mile long peninsula during their migration periods from the artic waters of Alaska to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico.
Along this hike, you’ll follow along a trail that oscillates between being a dirt path and a wooden boardwalk through an impossibly dense forest, full of moss-laden trees and primeval ferns. After 2.5 miles of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with expansive views of the ocean from the cape, with an excellent vantage point to view not only whales, but also the sea lions and birds that call the Pacific home.
If you’re feeling extra plucky, you can extend your hike once you return to the trailhead by following the South Trail to a secluded beach that’s tucked against Cape Lookout’s steep cliffs.
8. Octopus Tree
Trailhead location: Here by Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, located an hour and 20 minutes south of Cannon Beach
Length: 0.3 miles
Elevation gain: 88 feet
Description: This short trail is one of the few exceptions that embodies the notion… “it’s all about the destination, not the journey”.
After an easy hike uphill, you’ll reach the funky Octopus Tree, a sitka spruce that lacks a central trunk and instead, has branches that extend out horizontally as much as 30 feet before shooting up over 100 feet to the sky.
It was long believed that the harsh weather conditions of the cape caused this bizarre growth pattern, but historians now think that Indigenous people trained the tree, some 250 years ago, to be in this cage-like shape while its branches were supple and young. In fact, this kind of tree-shaping was a relatively common practice of certain Indigenous tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest (resulting in what’s referred to as “culturally modified trees”)- these branches were used to hold canoes with corpses tucked into them as part of a burial ritual.
9. Cape Kiwanda
Trailhead location: Here in Pacific City, located an hour and 30 minutes south of Cannon Beach
Length: 1.0 miles
Elevation gain: 187 feet
Fee: $10 day use fee for the Pacific City Beach
Description: This is less of a hike and more like a climb up a gnarly sand dune from the beach (protip: for the easiest hike, try climbing the left side of the dune- it’s way less steep!). Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll have incredible views of Pacific City’s Haystack Rock, almost 100 feet taller than the one at Cannon Beach, as well as the gorgeous sandstone cliffs and arches to the right of the dunes, formed by millenia of erosion.
The best part? Sprinting down the dunes when you’re all done! But don’t run away from the beach too fast- there’s tons to see and do here. In fact, we wrote a whole post about all the awesome things to do at Cape Kiwanda!
10. God’s Thumb
Trailhead location: Here in Lincoln City, located an hour and 50 minutes south of Cannon Beach
Length: 4.3 miles
Elevation gain: 1,131 feet
Description: Along this epic trail, you’ll hike through a mossy forest, bursting at the seams with ferns and Pacific Northwest vibes. In fact, keep an eye out for elk as you start the trail- they’re known to hang out in these parts!
Once you make your way through the forest, you’ll reach a meadow that provides sweeping views of an unusual knoll with basalt cliffs towering above the surrounding land. This is “God’s Thumb” or sometimes, just referred to as the “Thumb”- climb up its dramatic slope and take in the incredible beach and ocean views below
11. Drift Creek Falls
Trailhead location: Here in Otis, located two hours and 10 minutes south of Cannon Beach
Length: 3.2 miles
Elevation gain: 541 feet
Fee: $5 day-use/vehicle (or free with a Northwest Forest or America the Beautiful Pass)
Description: Along this incredible bang-for-your-buck hike, you’ll hike through a second-growth forest of soaring pine, covered in moss, and enormous primeval ferns. Eventually, the trail will take you to suspension bridge that stretches 240 feet across a deep gorge (reportedly the longest suspension bridge in the state of Oregon!) and beyond that, a stunning 66-foot waterfall, spilling over a basalt cliff-face that’s some 55 MILLION years old. It may be a bit of a hike from Cannon Beach (pun obviously intended!), but with all of the unique features along this trail, it’s definitely worth a bit of extra drive time.
Want to learn more about this stunning hike? I loved this trail so much, I wrote an entire post all about the Drift Creek Falls trail, packed with everything you need to know!
When to visit Cannon Beach
The most popular time to visit Cannon Beach is in the summertime (July through September), when the weather is warm (it can reach the upper 70s or 80s during this period) and the skies are clear.
Outside of that window, the Oregon coast tends to be pretty rainy and foggy- although, in my opinion, that can actually add to its mysterious beauty. Plus, if you visit in the winter or spring, it never gets too chilly along the coastline and you’ll avoid the crowds (and expensive prices) that come along with visiting the area in the summertime.
Just throw on a rain jacket and some waterproof hiking boots and you should be good to go!
What to pack for hiking near Cannon Beach
Most of these hikes aren’t super technically challenging so you fortunately don’t need too much gear.
But there are a few things you should consider bringing to make your trip as epic as possible:
- Rainjacket: Did I mention that it can get quite rainy here? Even on seemingly sunny days, it’s not uncommon for a sprinkle to come out of nowhere, so come prepared! Bring along a rain jacket (like this one for men or this one for women).
- Water-resistant, quick-dry hiking pants: Let’s be real- there’s nothing worse than slogging around in wet jeans while you’re several miles into a hike. To avoid your worst chafing nightmare, bring along some quick-dry hiking pants, like these for women and these for men.
- Waterproof boots: I mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. Bring waterproof boots you don’t mind getting a little muddy (like these hiking boots for men or these for women). Seriously.
- Water bottle: Even with all that rainy weather, bringing along plenty of water to keep you hydrated is a must. To be good to the planet and to cut down on wasting money on bottled water, Justin and I both have giant Nalgene bottles that we take everywhere, from international trips to hiking excursions and, yup, even the Oregon coastline.
The Oregon coast is straight up pure magic- I’m so excited for you to explore it! What’s one of your favorite hikes near Cannon Beach? Let me know in the comments below!