A Hike Up Cascade Head

Photo by Jarett Juarez

It’s a 6.5-mile drive to Cascade Head—an unexpected gem and beautifully mysterious headland just north of Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast, offering an unforgettable experience along with stunning views.

Winding up Three Rocks Road, make your way to Knight Park next to the Salmon River Estuary where kayakers launch and stroke through its channels. Pack your boots, your water bottle and your thirst for adventure—you’ll need it for this steep climb.

In the 1960s, Cascade Head’s environment was threatened by commercial development. Advocates of the area purchased the land and donated it to the Nature Conservancy for preservation. To maintain this, hikers are encouraged to stay on the paths and dogs are not allowed.

At the lower trailhead, the climb starts off flat, following the paved road passing by the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. The Trailhead is open year-round and covers both the north and south side of the headlands.

There are a few final glimpses of the Pacific before you begin the climb.

Along a steep curving path up railroad tie stairs, deep valleys forested with thigh high ferns and soaring Sitka spruces hold up the sky. You’re walking through the old growth forests of Cascade Head; peppered with bridges over small streams and waterfalls, which runs approximately one mile before the tree line clears.

Catch your breath—the view is dizzying. Cascade Head rises up from the forests like the prow of a ship, breaking into the Pacific with long, sloping meadows falling to the Salmon River Estuary; God’s Thumb (another headland) to the south.

The coastline stretches southward along Lincoln City beaches, toward Boiler Bay before disappearing into the ocean.

Going north, the headland leads to zigzagging switchback trails and cresting the Lower Viewpoint reveals a patchwork of coves and secret beaches. Here, the lower trailhead and an upper trailhead meet up—creating a six-mile out and back adventure.

The upper trailhead is open from July 16–December 31 in efforts to protect the endangered Silver Spotted Butterfly. This trail can be accessed by taking Forest Service Road 1861 west from Hwy 101 to the trailhead.

Take in the view, the sky, the ocean, the panorama of it all and breathe deep before making your way home.

Visit explorelincolncity.com to plan your trip to Lincoln City and set course for adventure on Cascade Head.