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Cape Lookout Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View of Cape Lookout from the south (cfm)
Grey whale navigating around the tip of the cape (cfm)
Looking southward toward the beach (Steve Hart)
Spruce trees in the fog (Steve Hart)
The hike to Cape Lookout (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Cape Lookout TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Cape Lookout
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 5.0 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 930 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes, but the trail is near steep cliffs at the end of the hike
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Sometimes
Falling

Contents

Hike Description

Cape Lookout is the best spot on the coast for whale watching (without getting in a boat). As the migrating gray whales parallel the shoreline in fall and spring, they need to detour around this 2 mile long peninsula that juts westward into the Pacific Ocean.

Start at the Cape Lookout Trailhead and hike westward through a lush old-growth forest. At a trail junction a few feet from the lot, continue straight ahead. The massive trees here are Sitka Spruce, whose thick limbs are laden with moss and huge primeval ferns. These northwest maritime trees grow only in a narrow strip on the Pacific coast from Alaska to southern Oregon.

The trail is slightly downhill, and often muddy with occasional boardwalks to span the worst sections. After about half of a mile of hiking, you will come out of the trees for a view south near the site of a B-17 bomber that crashed here in 1943. There are reports that some of the plane fuselage is still present in the area, but the underbrush is so impenetrable, it would be very difficult to find. A plaque set in a boulder along the trail records the event. You will re-enter the forest for most of the remainder of the hike until you emerge near the tip of the cape. Hold onto the little ones when you come out of the trees, as you will be walking along the sheer southern cliffs that plunge almost straight down into the ocean 400 feet below. There is a bench and an open area at the tip for enjoying your perch. Return the way you came.

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • I Heart Oregon (& Washington) by Lisa D. Holmes
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Siuslaw Forest Hikes by Irene Lilja & Dick Lilja
  • Portland HIkes by Art Bernstein & Andrew Jackman
  • Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Hiking Oregon's Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

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Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.