Cape Lookout Trail

Cape Lookout State Park, Oregon

Distance2.3mi
Elevation Gain1,248ft
Trailhead Elevation850ft
Top850ft
Elevation Min/Max389/850ft
Elevation Start/End850/850ft

Cape Lookout Trail

Cape Lookout Trail is a hiking trail in Tillamook County, Oregon. It is within Cape Lookout State Park. It is 2.3 miles long and begins at 850 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,248 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. This trail connects with the following: South Trail and North Trail.

Cape Lookout Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Day Hiking Oregon Coast (The Mountaineers Books)
Bonnie Henderson
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"Like most of the capes on the Oregon coast, Cape Lookout is built of basalt. Lava from volcanoes hundreds of miles to the east emerged some 15.5 million years ago, spread out, and followed stream valleys over what was then a very low Coast Range. Today Cape Lookout is a narrow, steep-sided promontory extending nearly 2 miles due west into the Pacific; the trail that leads to its tip is a great hiking destination and popular year-round." Read more
Day Hiking Oregon Coast (The Mountaineers Books)
Bonnie Henderson
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"From the top of Cape Lookout you can hike 1.9 miles down to a secluded beach with a small tidepool area. With a shuttle car, you could continue down the beach to Sand Beach Campground. Take the left-hand trail leading out of the trailhead parking area and, in about 75 yards, make a sharp left turn down the hill at the junction with the beach trail." Read more
Day Hiking Oregon Coast (The Mountaineers Books)
Bonnie Henderson
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"This stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail serves day hikers and thru-hikers as a link from the state park's sea-level campground to the top of Cape Lookout and the trail west to the cape's tip. Various spur trails through the day-use area confuse the trail's beginning. Look for a gravel service road crossing Jackson Creek that eventually leads onto a narrow footpath." Read more
Hiking Oregon (State Hiking Guides Series) (Falcon Guides)
Lizann Dunegan
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"This ramble through a lush coastal forest of rare old-growth Sitka spruce leads to the end of scenic Cape Lookout in Cape Lookout State Park. Along the way there are magnificent views of Cape Meares to the north and Cape Kiwanda to the south. Gray whales can be seen in December, January, March, and April as they near the cape on their semiannual migrations. The trail can be muddy during the winter and spring months." Read more
Day Hiking: Oregon Coast (The Mountaineers Books)
Bonnie Henderson
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"From the top of Cape Lookout you can hike 2 miles down to a secluded beach with a small tide-pool area. Continue your hike down the beach before returning, if you like, or arrange for a shuttle car at Sand Beach Campground." Read more
Day Hiking: Oregon Coast (The Mountaineers Books)
Bonnie Henderson
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"This stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail serves day hikers as a link from the sea-level campground to trails taking off from atop Cape Lookout. Between the campground and the picnic area is a 0.25-mile loop hike designed for young children, with sixteen marked stations identifying plants and forest processes. Pick up a trail guide brochure at the campground registration booth. A second short loop trail along Jackson Creek trail has a panel explaining fish habitat restoration efforts here; look for it off the park entrance road east of the RV dump station." Read more
Best Hikes with Dogs: Oregon (The Mountaineers Books)
Ellen Morris Bishop
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"The Cape Lookout Trail to the western tip of Cape Lookout is the most popular of the hikes that tour the cape. This was once a vast wetland, where five rivers met to form an estuary. Dikes and drainage tiles have turned it into world-class dairy land. This has produced some yummy cheese but has also badly degraded the water quality of Tillamook Bay and created major flood hazards. Recent years have seen efforts by the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (www.tbnep.org) to restore the bay and strike a new balance between economy and ecology." Read more
Day Hiking: Oregon Coast (The Mountaineers Books)
Bonnie Henderson
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"Cape Lookout, a steep-cliffed promontory extending nearly 2 miles due west into the Pacific, is a wonderful destination for hikers, with more than 7 miles of trail connecting miles of open beach. This hike to the tip of the cape and back is the most popular year-round. The 400-foothigh viewpoint at the end of the trail is considered one of the best sites for whale-watching on the Oregon coast. Gray whales may pass as close as 100 yards, but binoculars always improve viewing. Be prepared for mud on the trail in rainy periods." Read more
Bicycling the Pacific Coast (The Mountaineers Books)
Vicky Spring & Tom Kirkendall
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"This ride is dominated by three major climbs over three capes. The first climb, over Cape Lookout, begins as soon as you leave the campground. The second climb, over Cascade Head, occurs near the midpoint of the ride. The third climb, over the aptly named Cape Foulweather, awaits you at the end of the day. All three capes are forested and views are hard to come by. However, numerous highlights along the other sections of the ride ensure that you will not miss this area’s outstanding scenery. Plan an early start to allow extra time for a stop at Cape Kiwanda (the third cape on the Three Capes Scenic Route). The cape is a fascinating place; boats are launched directly into the surf, hang gliders take off from the sand dunes, and surfers challenge the waves. From the parking lot, a short walk over sand dunes leads to one of the greatest photography spots on the Oregon Coast." Read more
Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon's North Coast (Falcon Guides)
Lizann Dunegan
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"This route travels through a lush coastal forest of rare old-growth Sitka spruce to the end of scenic Cape Lookout in Cape Lookout State Park. Along the way there are magnificent views of Cape Meares to the north and Cape Kiwanda to the south. Gray whales can be seen in December, January, March, and April as they near the cape on their semiannual migrations. Cape Lookout, part of 2,000-acre Cape Lookout State Park (host to a campground, scenic Netarts Spit, and a variety of plants and animals), is a spectacular headland made up of a series of lava flows fifteen to twenty million years old. Jutting into the ocean like an arrowhead, its 400-foot cliffs are regularly pounded and carved by rhythmic waves and currents." Read more
Best Hikes Near Portland, Oregon (Falcon Guides)
Fred Barstad
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"The narrow and rugged ridge of Cape Lookout stretches 1.8 miles into the Pacific Ocean. The top of the cape is mostly timbered but the sides are steep to vertical cliffs that drop hundreds of feet into the wild Pacific surf. Along the hike to the end of the cape, many viewpoints offer vistas of the ocean and its beaches. About 0.5 mile west of the trailhead, a short distance to the right (north) of the trail is the site of a 1943 plane crash." Read more
Best Hikes Near Portland, Oregon (Falcon Guides)
Fred Barstad
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"Descend the South Trail from Cape Lookout Trailhead to a somewhat secluded beach 800 feet below. This hike offers tremendous views of the steep and rugged south face of Cape Lookout. The entire hike is through dense coastal forest." Read more
Best Hikes with Dogs: Oregon (The Mountaineers Books)
Ellen Morris Bishop
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"Along the way, there are views of the Netarts Spit to the north, as well as a nice stream for cooling off." Read more
60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland (Menasha Ridge Press)
Paul Gerald
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"When you park at this trailhead, you’ll have three options to choose from, and it’s all downhill from here. Of course, you’ll have to come back uphill to get to your car, but even the 800-foot climb from the beach is so well graded, you’ll hardly be winded when it’s done. (On our elevation profile for this hike, I’ve included the beach route and the cape route.)" Read more

Cape Lookout Trail Reviews

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7/11/2018
This hike has some unforgettable views of the Pacific Ocean and Oregon coast. If you're lucky you can see whales and seals which is a big treat. It's a pretty easy hike although inexperienced hikers and younger kids may find the uneven footing and the cliffs a bit more challenging. It also can be very muddy after it's rained. All in all one of my favorite hikes in Oregon.
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5/7/2011
Even though it was a raining and foggy day, it was a great hike. Very eery looking from the over look down into the cloud just 30 feet below when you know its hundreds of feet to the bottom. We started at the Bonneville Hot Springs and took the first trail to the PCT right at the top of the gravel road. I favor going up the west Heartbreak Ridge. Its very slippery wet or dry and much easier to climb then come down. The veiws of the gorge and Canyons are better this direction too. I've done it both directions. You can't miss the trails there is a Kiosk at each loop end on the PCT. Just a few small flower on the way up and nothing yet on the top meadows.
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7/6/2010
This trail is crowded but easy, still muddy in the late spring, but there are plenty of places to stop for a photo north or south. Bathroom facilities at the trailhead, easy to reach by car.
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8/1/2009
super muddy and foggy, if the conditions were a little bit better this would be an awesome hike through the rain forest, with some amazing views of the shore line and the ocean.
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8/19/2008
Easy hike, beautiful views up and down the coast on a clear day.
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7/6/2008
this is a stunning trail. an easy hike of 5 or 7 miles. South falls are amazing. Once you get past south falls it's not very crowded. the only ding I have for this hike is that 1/4 mile of it parallels the hwy. but the views are so nice I looked past that.
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4/16/2008
Trail between Lower South Falls and Lower North Falls, closed this past winter, has been reopened by the Parks folk. Awesome waterfalls, relatively level hiking (except, if hiking from South Falls, 188 steps down at Lower South Falls and 78 steps up just beyond North Falls. Some trilliium and skunk cabbage and a handful of other wildflower had started to bloom.
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11/24/2007
Winter time in the park is always nice - waterfalls operating at full steam and the moss was lovely. I rated it down because the entire trail loop is not open due to storm damage, so it is a bit short. And this particular weekend it was additionally limited due to "police action", so we are it was even a shorter hike than usual.
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5/5/2007
This was a magnificent hike overall, with a couple quirks due to the trail guide (60 hikes within 60 miles of Portland). The alpine wildflowers were starting to bloom, with only a few touches of snow at the mountain's peak. The views of the gorge and surrounding volcanoes are top notch. The hike is not as gruelling as the trail guides lead you to believe, it's steep but manageable. Looking down from the 800 ft cliff was a thrill. Note, the guide is not very specific in regard to the trail as it passes Carpenter's lake. There are a couple "Y"s in the trail that the guide does not talk about. Two other pairs made the same unwanted detour that we did on that day. You need to make a hard left at the lake, and then soon after bear right. I think if I did it again I would just follow the PCT all the way, (an extra 5 miles though) and not go this alternative route that the book describes.
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1/28/2007
For those less inclinded to be adventures the tail is well worked over with its wood steps and wire rail system. No where on the trail did I feel unsafe. Athough, they did need better signs posting the $3.oo park fee.
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Cape Lookout Trail Photos

Trail Information

Cape Lookout State Park
Nearby City
Cape Lookout State Park
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Hiking, Camping
Additional Use
Views
Features
503-842-4981, tinyurl.com/capelook
Local Contacts
USGS Sand Lake; free brochure at main park area and on park website.
Local Maps