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Cape Falcon Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

TKO put tools to trail here.png
Neahkahnie Mountain from Cape Falcon (Steve Hart)
Skunk-cabbage passage on the Cape Falcon Trail, Oswald West State Park (bobcat)
Short Sand Beach from the Cape Falcon Trail (bobcat)
Woodland skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides) on California aster, Cape Falcon (bobcat)
View to the north headland of Cape Falcon (bobcat)
Big old-growth spruce forest, Cape Falcon Trail, Oswald West State Park (bobcat)
The trail route to Cape Falcon (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Cape Falcon TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Cape Falcon
  • Trail log: Trail Log
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Distance: 4.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 160 feet
  • High point: 250 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

This is a short hike through a forest of huge Sitka spruce trees to a lava headland that offers views south to Neahkahnie Mountain. Hikers should note that this very popular section of the Oregon Coast Trail, while short, is highly eroded in many spots, with numerous twisted, exposed roots to negotiate. Much of the tread is muddy most of the year, so tennis shoes are not appropriate except perhaps mid-summer to early fall. Otherwise, wear sturdy footwear and proceed carefully!

Start at the Cape Falcon Trailhead on the Cape Falcon Trail. The trail runs along the side of a forested, sword fern-carpeted ridge above Short Sand Creek. Tall Sitka spruce and hemlock form the canopy. Soon the highway noise is replaced by the sounds of small birds and wind in the trees. You'll come to a signed trail junction at the half-mile mark. Turn right, and follow the trail to continue towards Cape Falcon. (Some may wish to make a short detour down to Short Sand Beach or take this direction for a short loop on the way back.)

You're now on a scenic section of the Oregon Coast Trail. The trail is often muddy in the spring as it weaves through damp bottoms filled with skunk-cabbage. There's a very eroded culvert over Kerwin Creek and then an ascent through more old-growth spruce forest with a dense understory of salal. Farther along, there's a crossing over an unnamed creek. The trail here was relocated when a huge spruce blocked the path. Today's trail is a little rough, but easily passable.

Now, as you're rising again, you'll begin to hear the ocean surf. A slanted cliff of sedimentary deposits marks the boundary of a chunk of real estate that slid into the sea. The trail drops about 60 feet to the low spot of the hike at Blumenthal Creek. Just past this creek, there's a Danger sign across a sketchy descent to a viewpoint of the upper tier of Blumenthal Falls. Do not take this dangerous trail. (You can see the lower tier of Blumenthal Falls, which runs dry in the summer anyway, from Short Sand Beach.)

Continuing on, the trail climbs through a couple of short switchbacks and offers views to Short Sand Beach and Neahkahnie Mountain. Exiting the forest, you'll reach an open area with a dense thicket of salal draped by vines of big root (wild cucumber). There's an obvious, if unsigned, trail junction a little farther on.

Take the left path, and drop down into a small saddle. The trail from here has been cut through a jungle of salal. The area would be completely impassible without this constructed trail. First, you'll reach a spectacular, shaded viewpoint with a view south to Neahkahnie Mountain and Nehalem Spit. A well-used social trail leads through a headland meadow where small butterflies and bumblebees are very active in the summer. This trail offers open views south but then begins a steep descent, unsuitable for either children or dogs, through wind-contorted spruce (if it's raining or very wet, no one should attempt this). You'll arrive on a knife-edged promontory of rock that forms Cape Falcon's south headland. You can see north to the north headland and offshore rocks. Below, a tall rock spine ends at a maelstrom of crashing waves. Cormorants and pelicans ply the waters for sustenance.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Dogs on leash
  • Trailhead parking lot is closed from 10:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Oregon's Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide by Chandra LeGue
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • 25 Hikes on Oregon's Tillamook Coast by Adam Sawyer
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Best Hikes with Children: Western & Central Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • I Heart Oregon (& Washington) by Lisa D. Holmes
  • Extraordinary Oregon! by Matt Reeder
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Wine Hiking Oregon by Jack Costa
  • Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail by Connie Soper
  • Oregon Hiking by Matt Wastradowski
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Craig Hill & Matt Wastradowski
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • 100 Hikes: Oregon Coast by William L. Sullivan
  • A Walking Guide to Oregon's Ancient Forests by Wendell Wood
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • 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 Coast Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Beaches: A Traveler's Companion by John Shewey
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Fire, Faults, and Floods: A Road & Trail Guide Exploring the Origins of the Columbia River Basin by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

More Links


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.