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Seaside Promenade Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Nearing Tillamook Head, Seaside (bobcat)
Carousel, Seaside Carousel Mall (bobcat)
The turnaround, Seaside (bobcat)
Along the picket fences, Seaside Promenade (bobcat)
Sculptor and creation, Seaside (bobcat)
The figure 8 loop using the Seaside Promenade (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Seaside TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Necanicum Estuary
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: Loop (Figure of 8)
  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 20 feet
  • High Point: 25 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

Almost as soon as emigrants arrived in the Willamette Valley in the mid-19th century, vacationers were making the trip to Seaside. In those days, the Coast Range was a rugged, impenetrable wilderness, and the journey was taken by river boat from Portland to Astoria or Warrenton, and thence by beach wagon or, after 1888, by railroad, to this unpretentious resort. Even in 1900, as many as 10,000 summer vacationers would supplement the 500 locals. In time, the town boasted many of the attractions of a beach destination: cotton candy and salt water taffy, arcade games and a carousel, a small aquarium and, not least, a 100-yard wide strand that bumps up against Tillamook Head to the south and the Necanicum Estuary to the north.

You can choose to explore beachfront Seaside by walking south or north depending on your fancy. This description takes you south first and then north to the Necanicum Estuary. And note: come prepared to be swept up in a tide of beach-hungry humanity – week days are better than weekends; foul weather sees fewer visitors than fair; and the Necanicum Estuary is the loneliest spot on the route.

Walk south from the parking area, passing public restrooms, on the short one-block mall of Downing Street. To your left is the Seaside Carousel Mall, which encompasses much of what characterizes Seaside as Oregon’s quintessential beach town: a carousel, large arcade game area, bumper cars, and shops selling any imaginable seaside souvenir. Come out at Broadway Street and walk west three blocks to the Lewis and Clark Monument at a vehicle turnaround. Below this structure, which illustrates the two leaders of the 1805-06 Voyage of Discovery and Seaman, their Newfoundland dog, there are men’s and women’s restrooms. Walk out to the beach on soft sand at first, with children’s play swings and beach volleyball courts. When you reach the hard sand, turn south towards Tillamook Head. The Tillamook Rock Light, 1 ¼ miles offshore from Tillamook Head, is visible from this angle.

Walking down the wide beach, you’ll pass clusters of gulls, sandcastle builders, stick-fetching canines, and the odd brave swimmer. Closer to the end of the beach, you’ll reach the Cove, where surfers take advantage of a break to come in alongside the cobbled shore that runs below Tillamook Head. When you reach the steeper rocky beach at the Cove, you do have the option, at very low tide, of streaking south for two miles on jumbled rocks to the first headland. It's still another mile from here to Tillamook Head.

Turning in at the end of the beach, you’ll see a few small tide pools against the rocks. At the high tide mark, find a sandy trail that angles up to Sunset Boulevard. Go left and hike along Sunset. Just before the first house on the ocean side of the road, you’ll see a flagpole and the Three Sailors Grave. Just past here, turn left on Ocean Vista Drive and walk past seaside cottages, old and new, on both sides of the road. When you reach The Tides Motel, go left into its parking lot and continue north to the southern end of the Seaside Promenade. An interpretive sign here explains the Lewis and Clark Salt Works. Keep walking up the Promenade, with low dunes to your left covered with dune grass, stunted shore pine and Sitka spruce.

When you reach a sign saying “Salt Works”, go right for half a block on Lewis and Clark Way to the site, surrounded by a low thicket of evergreen huckleberry and salal, of the salt making furnace of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Interpretive signs explain both the verification of the activity’s location and its import for the Voyage of Discovery. Return to the Promenade, which now is shaded on the ocean side, by taller spruce and pine. Concrete walkways lead out to the beach, and picket fences and escallonia hedges border the flower gardens of the two-story beach cottages. Keep heading north to the Lewis and Clark Monument past some taller beachfront hotels. One block before the monument/turnaround, walk in a block to see the historic (1880s) Gilbert Inn on the corner of Avenue A and Beach Drive.

Past the Lewis and Clark Monument, you’ll soon pass the small Seaside Aquarium, with its gray whale skeleton in the window and blaring harbor seals near the entrance. The Promenade ends at a parking lot and public restrooms between 11th and 12th Streets. From here, you can take a path through the dune grass to the beach. Looking south there are fine views of Tillamook Head and the Tillamook Rock Light, no longer a working lighthouse but a privately-owned, no longer active columbarium. Walk up the beach to the mouth of the Necanicum River and then head inland to the Necanicum Estuary. This will be the most unpeopled section of your hike: scan the mud flats for brown pelicans, Caspian terns and Heerman’s gulls before turning towards civilization.

Pick up a trail leading up a sand bluff that wanders through pine/spruce dunes to the end of gravel Columbia Street. Hike four blocks and turn left, walking for one block on 15th Avenue to Franklin Street. Go right here, and walk six blocks to 9th Avenue. Turn left to reach Necanicum Drive, which stretches along the Necanicum River, a waterway that separates “old” Seaside from the development along Highway 101. There’s a sidewalk on the river side of Necanicum Drive. Look for waterfowl in the river and get views to Saddle Mountain. After four blocks, you’ll see the Seaside Historical Society Museum on your right. Also here, is the lovely Butterfield Cottage, a relic of Seaside’s 19th century status as the premier destination for ocean-loving Portlanders.

Butterfield Cottage is on 5th Avenue, so you can head west for 1 ½ blocks to Downing Street and then go left for three blocks to reach the Seaside Trailhead.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Restrooms at the trailhead and on the beach

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail by Connie Soper (partial)
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Oregon Coast Trail: Hiking Inn to Inn by Jack D. Remington
  • A Hiker's Guide to the Oregon Coast Trail by David E.M. Bucy & Mary C. McCauley
  • Oregon’s Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • 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.