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Heceta Head Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Heceta Head Lighthouse, Heceta Head (bobcat)
Cape Creek Bridge from Devils Elbow Beach (bobcat)
Conical Rock and Devils Elbow Beach at Heceta Head (bobcat)
Lightkeepers' house, Heceta Head (bobcat)
The Devils Elbow from Heceta Head (bobcat)
The short hike at Heceta Head (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Heceta Head TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Heceta Head Lighthouse
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 165 feet
  • High Point: 150 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

This short excursion allows you to view the impressive Cape Creek Bridge near a sharp inlet known as the Devils Elbow, stroll a small sandy beach and explore its tide pools and headland caves, and then hike up through spruce woods to visit a recently restored coastal lighthouse. The Heceta Head Lighthouse shines the brightest beam on the Oregon Coast, and it was also the last lighthouse built in the system. Its completion in 1894 filled the gap between the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and the Umpqua River Lighthouse in Reedsport. Note that the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint is the former Devils Elbow State Park.

From the parking area, walk out to the beach, and stroll to your left. You can hike up Cape Creek to view or pass under the Cape Creek Bridge, a 1932 structure designed by noted engineer Conde McCulllough. The bridge is constructed of reinforced concrete and is 620 feet long, with a single span of 300 feet arching over the creek. The two-tiered support design is modeled after a Roman aqueduct. From this side of the beach you can get a good view up to the Heceta Head Lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper’s house, now a B & B.

Next, hike the shoreline to the basalt cliffs of Heceta Head, and explore the small caves at its base. Conical Rock, composed of volcanic breccia and part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, can be seen just offshore, and there are a few tide pools that are worth exploring here at low tide.

Return to the parking area and take the trail, an old access road, that leads up past the restrooms. On your left is a willow wetland, but soon you enter a woodland of Sitka spruce carpeted by false lily-of-the-valley and salal. Reach the assistant lightkeeper’s house, built in 1893. This was originally a duplex for the two assistant lightkeepers and their families. The original chief lightkeeper’s house also once stood in this picket-fenced yard, but when the light was electrified, three keepers became unnecessary, and the house was sold as surplus and demolished in 1940. The existing house is now a bed and breakfast inn operated by National Forest concessionaires. The views from the front yard take in the Cape Creek Bridge and picturesque Devils Elbow Beach.

Continue up past a garage, which now hosts a gift shop, and look to your left down into a hidden cove. The road passes the Heceta Head Trail, which switchbacks numerous times up over the headland to the Hobbit Beach Trailhead, whence you can hike down to Hobbit Beach (See the Hobbit Beach to Heceta Head Hike). It’s worth hiking up the trail to the second switchback to get an eye-level view of the Heceta Head Lighthouse’s first order Fresnel lens.

Continue to the 1894 lighthouse, which has recently been restored to look more like its original self. There are tours given all year. Two oil houses greet you first (Oil stores were separated in case of an explosion), the second one now a small museum. From the lighthouse, you can look south to the Devils Elbow, Devils Elbow Beach, and the Cape Creek Bridge. In the month of May, migrating gray whales swim close to shore here, and this is a good vantage point to spot sea birds, such as brown pelicans, common murres, and gulls.

Heceta Head is named after the Basque explorer Bruno de Heceta, who, under the employ of the Spanish Crown, was directed to explore and claim for Spain new territory up the west coast of North America. In 1775, Heceta was the first European to see the mouth of the Columbia River; however, on this return part of the journey his crew was much reduced due to scurvy and a skirmish with the Quinault Indians, and they were unable to muster the strength to set anchor in the Columbia’s strong offshore current, so Heceta continued south to his home port of San Blas in Mexico.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 day-use fee
  • Dogs on leash at all times

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking Oregon’s History by William L. Sullivan
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon’s North Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • 50 Hikes in Oregon by David L. Anderson
  • Siuslaw Forest Hikes: A Guide to Central Oregon Coast Range Trails by Irene & Dick Lilja
  • Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail by Connie Soper
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon’s Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
  • The Dog Lover’s Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

More Links


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.