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Sand Lake-Cape Kiwanda Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Cape Kiwanda's Great Dune and Haystack Rock, Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area (bobcat)
Investigating a large squid, Tierra del Mar (bobcat)
Sand Lake Lagoon (bobcat)
Looking north to Miles Creek Point and Cape Lookout, Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area (bobcat)
Kiwanda Beach hike at Tierra del Mar (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Tierra del Mar TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End points: Sand Lake Point and the Great Dune
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 8.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 240 feet
  • High Point: 220 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: On sunny summer days

Contents

Hike Description

This beach hike fronts the coastal community of Tierra del Mar. You will walk north and then south on the sand, heading first to Sand Lake Point and getting excellent views of Cape Lookout along the way. Then head south into Cape Kiwanda State Park (The beach is narrow here and you need to round a point that cuts you off at high tide) to slog up to the top of Cape Kiwanda's Great Dune for views of Haystack Rock and Kiwanda's sandstone headland.

The parking area gives beach access for people and cars at the north end of Cape Kiwanda State Park. Walk north past the sign that says No Motor Vehicles. It’s 2.1 miles to the point. Cape Lookout juts out two miles into the Pacific ahead. Behind you, Cape Kiwanda is the prominent promontory. Amble along in somewhat soft sand with the beach homes of Tierra del Mar to your right. Past the homes is a dune line stabilized by dune grass. It backs some brackish fingers of marsh in the lowlands south of Sand Lake. You may step over heaps of giant kelp knotted up on the sand. Little squads of sanderlings, with a dunlin or two mixed in during the winter months, scuttle along the shore, following the wave retreats to stab into the sand for snacks. Look for the little white shells of mole crabs littering the shore. Surf scoters in small groups duck into the breakers. The beach becomes wider at its north end. Notice the stunted shore pines and Sitka spruce in the dunes. As you near Sand Lake Point, you will probably hear ORV noise from the Siuslaw National Forest's Sand Lake Recreation Area across the bay mouth. Then you’re at the wide sandy expanse of the point and looking east to the tidal flats of the Sand Lake lagoon. Sand Lake is one of only two major natural estuaries on the Oregon coast. Whalen Island is across the bay to the west (See the Whalen Island Hike). You can walk around the point a little, but soon the scrub comes down to the beach, so you'll have to cut across the low dunes to the beach.

Walk back along the beach. At low tide, you can walk on the harder sand below the high tide line. Pass the northern boundary of Cape Kiwanda State Park. From here, it’s 1.8 miles to the base of Cape Kiwanda. Cars are permitted to drive on this section of the beach. You can see the Sandlake Road curving up the hill on its way to Pacific City. The base of this hill is also the high tide mark on this section of the beach, so it is not walkable all the time. Many rivulets stream across the beach from the hill. Pass low cliffs of colorful mudstone embedded with thin layers of harder rock. Shore pines, Sitka spruce and salal cloak the hillside. Come to the promontory of Miles Creek Point that juts out into the waves. At very low tide, you should be able to walk around its point, but at higher water, you have to scramble up a slippery mudstone notch and drop down to the other side. Here, there is a wave-cut platform and a beach of cobbles where Miles Creek streams down to meet the ocean. Cars can access the beach here, too, and Cape Kiwanda is just ahead. Haystack Rock juts from the waves. Cross a driftwood choked creek and continue south along the beach towards the Great Dune and the contorted sandstone headland at the cape. Reaching the dune's base, slog up to a sandy saddle and then head up to its summit at a Sitka spruce skeleton. The views north and south from here are commanding. Walking west along the dune's summit ridge, get an excellent view of Haystack Rock. You can slide down the slope to explore the Cape Kiwanda headland, described in the Cape Kiwanda Hike.

If you get cut off by high tide on the way back, you'll have to return to Tierra del Mar via Sandlake Road.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Cars on the beach in south portion of the hike
  • Dogs on leash in state park area

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail by Connie Soper
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

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.