Being a native Oregonian, I have always used the word “beach” when referring to the sand and sea that meets the western outline of Oregon. David, a transplant to Oregon from San Diego, was quick to correct me, stating that Oregon does not have a beach—no, no—it has a ”coast.” Well, you say tomato, I say shut the hell up!
According to David, a beach is a generally sunny and sandy area with access to warm ocean water—features Oregon’s beach (or whatever the hell it’s considered) is not well known for.
I’m pretty sure that weather and water temperature have nothing to do with the definitions of either “beach” or “coast.” Regardless of which term you use, there is no denying that Oregon has some ridiculously beautiful areas along its westernmost edge.
One of my newly discovered favorite areas to visit along the Oregon coastline is the Cascade Head hiking trail. This trailhead is located about 10 miles north of Lincoln City, at the Knight Park parking lot.
There are technically two parts to this trail: The Cascade Head lower trail and the Cascade Head upper trail. Keep in mind that the upper trail is usually closed from about January 1st to July 15th. David and I went in May this year and got lucky, as it was actually open for business!
The entire trail changes in scenery quite a bit from beginning to end. You first start the hike by walking through the Knight Park parking lot, and then onto Three Rocks Road. You’ll quickly take a left onto Savage Road and wander up a bit. After that comes some underbrush and thick forest. The sitka spruce and doug fir trees here are so big and majestic!
This trail is known for its butterfly population, and as such, you’ll run into a lot of little crawling caterpillars along the majority of the trail—watch your step! There is also an abundance of other little crawlies and critters. We came across a bunch of cyanide millipedes (Harpaphe haydeniana) (pictured below, left).
David and I got to witness a squirrel fight! Those little things get really pissy at each other! The noises they were making were seriously frightening. After watching that interaction, I wouldn’t want to run into a squirrel in a dark alley, er, forest.
Cascade Head Trail is also home to some beautiful plant life. There are lots of foxgloves and salmonberry plants along the way.
At the time David and I went, the salmonberries weren’t quite ripe enough yet to eat. Boohoo! They are so tasty when they’re ripe (but David still doesn’t trust me when I tell him they can be eaten).
A fair amount into the hike, you’ll reach a break in the trees which gives way to a beautiful grassy hillside. The views from here are absolutely stunning.
I can honestly say that Cascade Head trail is now one of my favorite trails to visit. The views alone at the upper portion place the hike in my top five.
The next time you visit Oregon’s coastline, be sure to stop by Cascade Head trail. It’s worth it, we promise.
Get directions to Knight Park/Cascade Head Trail here.
Have you hiked Cascade Head Trail? Tell us about your experience!