10 of the Best Things to do on the Oregon Coast
Share with your friends:
This blog is written by AdventureTripr Champion and Oregon native Elizabeth Sheets (@elizabethsheets).
The Oregon coast is one of the most unique coastlines and filled with must-see stops. Whether you’ve seen some of the coast before or are wanting to go for the first time, this post will help you plan out your visit with the top sites and hikes. You can choose to do a few of these stops together in a weekend or venture down the 101 for an amazing road trip. These 10 hikes and sites go from the northernmost point in Oregon down to southern Oregon in order. They are some of the best things to do on the Oregon coast!
Fort Stevens State Park
This is an old military installation located at the mouth of the Columbia River. It has amazing bike trails, freshwater lakes to kayak, walking trails, wildlife viewing and the historic shipwreck. You will need to have a state park pass or purchase a $5 day pass at the kiosks. You can explore the old military compounds within the park. If you want to walk out to the shipwreck, head to the Peter Iredale Trail. It’s less than half a mile to the shipwreck from the parking lot. Fort Stevens is also a popular place to see elk herds on the beach and in the meadows year round.
The park is also extremely popular for camping with RV sites, tent sites and yurt rentals throughout. It fills up quickly, so known you most likely won't get a spot unless you book ahead of time or go on a weekday!
Haystack Rock is a massive rock located just off of Cannon Beach. The town itself is a great family spot filled with restaurants and shops! You can park in any of the public parking places in town and walk along the beach to it. It is located on the south side of town. In the summer and on weekends this town and beach are extremely crowded so plan to go early or on a weekday if you don’t want the crowds. If you’re in town be sure to stop at Schwietert’s Cones and Candy for an ice cream cone of salt water taffy!
Oswald West State Park
This park has two of the best hikes on the Oregon coast: Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain and Sort Sand Beach. The Neah-Kah-Nie hike has two route options, the north or south trailheads. The south trailhead is rated as a moderate, heavily trafficked 2.6 miles out and back trail. The North trail is 3.9 miles out and back and rated as difficult. The north trailhead connects to two other trailheads within Oswald West, so you can venture to multiple places from either trailhead!
We recommend using the south trailhead as parking can be difficult to find at the north. Since it has multiple trails, more people are going to park there. It's a steep hike, but beautiful. It takes you through thick trees before opening up to a rock pile at the top. You'll need to climb up the rocks to get the view of the southern coastline at the top. You can see the Nehalem Bay as well from the top.
Sort Sand Beach is a quick 1.2 mile round trip hike to a popular surfing beach nestled in a cove. There are multiple trails in the area if you want to extend your hike as well as a small waterfall right at the beach.
This hike lies between Tillamook and Pacific City. It's a moderate 5 mile out and back hike that takes you out along the Cape Lookout Peninsula. It's a popular spot for people to hike during whale watching season as it takes you two miles out into the ocean where whales need to detour the old lava flow. There will be a $5 State Park parking fee.
The hike out is mostly a gradual descent through the forest and fern-lined trail. There will be long stretches where the trail takes you right along the edge of the peninsula where stunning views of the southern coastline are visible. The trail ends at a small expanse surrounded by cable fencing. I love this hike and the never ending views it provided!
This is a small town with one of the most beautiful dunes and rock formations! At Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, there is a parking fee you can pay for at the kiosk. When you walk out to the beach there is a massive sand dune to the right. If you hike to the top you will be rewarded with stunning red rock and turquoise water views. This area is very fragile though so it’s important to not go over or under the fences. They are there to protect you and the environment. You can continue over the sand dunes and make your way to the beach on the other side. This area can also be very crowded on weekends and the summer so be prepared for crowds or go early.
The hike to God's Thumb is just north of Lincoln City. The trail is 4.4 miles out and back with 1,400 ft elevation gain. This hike takes you across private property so remember to be respectful of their land. The trail starts with a steep incline and can be extremely muddy fall through spring. Be sure to wear waterproof shoes because going off trail to get around the mud should never be done.
You will reach a large clearing with a stunning view of the coast and God’s Thumb below. The trail down is very narrow and steep so take your time if you plan to go down. Once you make it down to the meadow you will venture to the top of God’s Thumb where you can see down the coast!
The Devil's Punchbowl is a stunning collapsed cave south of Lincoln City. There is a parking lot at the top where you can look down into the cave as the water pours into it from the ocean. This area is very fragile and dangerous so make sure not go over the fences! If you wish to hike down to the cave you can walk down C Avenue to a a trail that takes you down to Otter Crest Beach. From there you can walk to the cave, but only if the tide is low enough. Be sure you have proper water shoes if you wish to walk to the inside of Devil’s Punchbowl.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
You can drive right up to the Yaquina lighthouse to walk around it, but the true gem of the area is just below. There is a trail that takes you down to Agate Beach and the rocky tide pools below. You can often see sea lions swimming just off shore. If you love to explore tide pools, this is a great spot to walk around the formations and see into the pools. Just south of the lighthouse is the sandy Agate beach if you want to enjoy some time on the sand.
The Oregon Dunes area stretches over 40 miles and has amazing outdoor activities. If you stay at any of the campgrounds be prepared for plenty of noise from the ATV and sand buggies constantly driving around! If you can, try and rent one for a few hours so you can explore the dunes. If you'd prefer to explore the dunes without renting a vehicle, the Tahkenitch trail is a 6 mile loop that takes you over the dunes and along the beach. The Oregon Dunes loops trail is shorter at 4 miles but also takes you over the dunes and out to the beach.
Samuel H Boardman
Samuel H Boardman is hands down one of the most amazing stretches of Coastline in Oregon! It has unique rock formations, arches and forest hiking. None of the hikes are very long (more than a mile) so it’s very family friendly and you can see it all in a day if you want. The Indian Sands Trail is an easy .9 mile loop located within the park that takes you to some beautiful outlooks.
If you’re lucky you see kayaks and paddle boardings exploring the rocks on the water and going under the arches.
Whether you're looking for viewpoint hikes, sandy beaches or rock formations, the Oregon coast has it all! Be sure to check out our Oregon Coastal Treasures adventure or Oregon Northern Coast trip, and tag us using #adventuresforeveryone.