Cape Meares Hiking: Discover the Breathtaking Trails and Wildlife of the Oregon Coast

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Are you an outdoor enthusiast looking for a new adventure? If so, look no further than Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. Located on the breathtaking Oregon Coast, Cape Meares offers a variety of hiking trails that wind through lush forests and lead to stunning vistas overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In this article, we’ll explore the best hiking trails in Cape Meares and everything else you need to know to plan the perfect trip.

Cape Meares Hiking

Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is a hidden gem on the Oregon Coast. Located just a few miles south of the popular town of Tillamook, Cape Meares is a perfect destination for anyone looking to escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty of the Oregon Coast. With miles of hiking trails that wind through old-growth forests, past stunning ocean vistas, and along secluded beaches, Cape Meares has something for everyone.

Overview of Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is a 3-mile long park that covers 1,700 acres of land on the Oregon Coast. The park was established in 1938 and is named after the nearby Cape Meares Lighthouse, which was built in 1889 and is still in operation today. The park is home to a variety of hiking trails, including the Cape Meares Hike, the Big Spruce Trail, the Octopus Tree Trail, and the Short Sand Beach Trail.

Preparing for Your Hike

Before setting out on your hike, it’s important to be prepared. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Dress appropriately for the weather. The weather on the Oregon Coast can be unpredictable, so make sure to bring layers and rain gear.
  • Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots. The trails at Cape Meares can be steep and rocky, so it’s important to have good footwear.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks. There are no stores or restaurants in the park, so make sure to bring enough food and water for your hike.
  • Check the park’s website for any trail closures or restrictions before you go.

Hiking Trails in Cape Meares

Cape Meares Hike

The Cape Meares Hike is a 2.2-mile loop that takes you through a dense forest and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The trailhead is located near the parking lot, and the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. Along the way, you’ll pass through old-growth forests, see a waterfall, and have the opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife.

Big Spruce Trail

The Big Spruce Trail is a short, 0.3-mile trail that takes you to one of the largest Sitka spruce trees in Oregon. The trail is easy and wheelchair accessible, making it a great option for families with young children or anyone with mobility issues.

Octopus Tree Trail

The Octopus Tree Trail is a 0.3-mile trail that takes you to an ancient Sitka spruce that has grown in an unusual shape, resembling an octopus. The trail is easy and wheelchair accessible, and the tree is a must-see for anyone visiting Cape Meares.

Short Sand Beach Trail

The Short Sand Beach Trail is a 2.2-mile hiking trail that begins at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and leads to the secluded Short Sand Beach. The trail is moderately difficult and includes some steep sections, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

The trail begins at the end of the Cape Meares Loop Road, near the parking lot for the Octopus Tree Trail. From there, the trail descends through a lush forest and crosses over several small creeks. Along the way, hikers will see a variety of native plants and wildlife, including ferns, salal, and black-tailed deer.

As the trail nears the beach, it becomes steeper and rockier. Hikers will need to scramble over a few large rocks to reach the beach, but the effort is well worth it. Short Sand Beach is a beautiful, secluded cove that offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and rock formations, and the water is perfect for swimming, surfing, or just relaxing in the sun.

Hikers should be aware that there are no facilities on the beach, so they should bring plenty of water and snacks. It’s also important to note that the trail can be slippery and muddy, especially during the rainy season, so hikers should wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots.

Overall, the Short Sand Beach Trail is a must-do hike for anyone visiting Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. The trail offers a unique glimpse into the beauty of the Oregon Coast and leads to one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in the area.

Wildlife of Cape Meares

Cape Meares is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including birds, marine mammals, and land animals. Here’s a closer look at some of the species you may encounter while exploring the area.

Birds: Cape Meares is a popular destination for birdwatchers, with over 200 species of birds recorded in the area. Some of the most common species include bald eagles, ospreys, cormorants, and tufted puffins. The nearby Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge is also home to one of the largest colonies of common murres in the world.

Marine mammals: The waters off Cape Meares are home to a variety of marine mammals, including gray whales, humpback whales, harbor seals, and California sea lions. During the winter months, visitors may be able to see gray whales migrating south to their breeding grounds off the coast of Mexico. In the summer, sea lions can often be seen basking on the rocks near the shore.

Land animals: In addition to the marine life, Cape Meares is also home to a variety of land animals. Black-tailed deer are a common sight in the area, as are raccoons and gray foxes. Visitors may also encounter the rare and elusive Roosevelt elk, which can be found in nearby forests.

It’s important to remember that while wildlife can be fascinating to observe, visitors should always keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing or feeding the animals. Additionally, visitors should be aware that some areas of the park may be closed during certain times of the year to protect sensitive wildlife habitats.

Overall, Cape Meares offers a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty and diversity of the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re a birdwatcher, marine mammal enthusiast, or just love exploring the outdoors, Cape Meares has something for everyone.


In conclusion, Cape Meares is a stunning natural wonderland that offers a wide range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your needs.

From the Short Sand Beach Trail to the Octopus Tree and the scenic viewpoints, there are plenty of opportunities to take in the breathtaking scenery and wildlife that call this area home. Birdwatchers will be in heaven with the vast array of species in the area, while marine mammal enthusiasts will be able to spot whales and seals off the coast.

Finally, Cape Meares is an excellent place to unwind and recharge. Whether you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life or simply want to reconnect with nature, Cape Meares offers a peaceful respite that is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

So, if you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, be sure to add Cape Meares to your itinerary. This hidden gem is not to be missed.

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