Hiking the Heads in Oregon

Devil's Elbow State Park OregonThe Tillamook, Cascade, Yaquina, Heceta and Port Orford heads offer lush vegetation, distinct bird's-eye peeks at the Pacific Ocean or sweeping overlooks, twisting trails and year-round mud. These five areas are ripe for day-hiking, or you can combine them and make a coastal pilgrimage from the mouth of the Columbia River in the north to the southern Oregon border. You will experience several styles of hiking: through the woods, up and over mountainous terrain, along the beach, high meadows and tower stairs.

Tillamook Head, Between Seaside and Cannon Beach

History has it that the Lewis and Clark expedition walked Tillamook Head while searching for blubber. If 10 miles are too many, truncate this point-to-pointer wherever you wish and turn it into an out-and-back day hike. Enter the popular trail from the north, parking at the end of Sunset Blvd. on the south side of Seaside. The 8-mile route through Ecola State Park goes up and over Tillamook Head, past Indian Beach, and follows the Cannon Beach trail to the middle of Cannon Beach. Grab a bus back to Seaside and walk to your car.

Cascade Head, Between Tillamook and Lincoln City

You can take either of two trails. The 1-mile upper trail ends at a viewpoint. Access the trailhead near the summit of the head. Turn west from Hwy 101 onto USFS Rd. 1861 (Cascade Head Rd.) and go 3.5 miles, bearing left at the fork, to a marked parking lot. Access the lower trail by turning west from Hwy 101 on Three Rocks Rd. Bear left at the fork 2 miles in and park in Knight Park. This trail climbs 500 feet to the top of Cascade Head; watch out for slippery mud on the descent.

Yaquina Head, Just North of Newport

It's not a boast: the central word in "Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area" describes the outward thrust of the coastline. The Bureau of Land Management runs this park. Go down the staircase and walk around the head at sea level, stopping to enjoy the activity in the tide pools. Be mindful of the tide level.

Heceta, Between Waldport and Florence

Choose either the half-mile path from Devil's Elbow State Park (picture above) or the 1.3-mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail. For the shorter walk, park at Devil's Elbow State Park. For the longer, park 1 mile north, on the east side of Hwy 101. Walk a short distance north to a Hobbit Trail post on the west side of the highway. Either trail you take, climb the 58 steps to the top of Heceta Head Lighthouse.

Port Orford Heads, Just North of Port Orford

Pick up a brochure at the Port Orford Heads State Park visitor center. Maps for Cove, Tower and Headlands trails are inside.

Article Written By Lani Johnson

Lani Johnson is a hiking, writing musician. Recent published work includes journalism, poetry and research. See her online writing at Trails.com or at Azacda.presspublisher.us.

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