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Cape Lookout South Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The rocky north section of the South Beach (bobcat)
View to Cape Lookout from the South Trail (bobcat)
Gnarly Sitka spruce on the South Trail (bobcat)
Route to the South Beach shown in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Cape Lookout TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: South Beach
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 3.6 miles round trip
  • High point: 840 feet
  • Elevation gain: 840 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Cape Lookout's South Beach is a relatively secluded haven nestled below the sheer south cliffs of the Cape Lookout promontory. It's a quick 1 3/4 mile jaunt down to the beach from the Cape Lookout Trailhead in shady woods, but you will also have to consider the 800+ feet in elevation on the return trip. This corner of the beach is quiet and restful. If you walk too far south on the strand, you will enter the Sand Lake Recreation Area and, on a sunny weekend, its legions of dune buggies.

From the trailhead, drop quickly to the junction with the South Trail. Go left here. This trail drops down in a forest of younger Sitka spruce, salmonberry, salal, and sword fern. There are four big switchbacks. These are very gradual and you can see why there are so many shortcut trails. Then make two short switchbacks in an elderberry thicket. Cross a small creek that issues from a large Sitka spruce. The trail undulates a bit and, at a bench, there’s a splendid viewpoint of the beach below and Cape Lookout jutting out into the Pacific. Traverse down and make five switchbacks, getting views of the wood frame platforms (for stretching canvas over) at the Cub Scout's Camp Clark. Now there are eleven short switchbacks down to the beach. Reach the beach and head right to explore the tide pools. The beach is sandy where the trail connects with it. As you walk towards the Cape's towering cliffs, sand converts to lava cobbles but also more solitude.

To incorporate the South Beach into a longer day hike of 13.5 miles, begin at the Cape Lookout Day Use Trailhead (See the Cape Lookout North Hike). Visit Cape Lookout first, and then return to head down to South Beach.


Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • none

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
  • I Heart Oregon (& Washington) by Lisa D. Holmes
  • The Oregon Coast Trail Guide by Jon Kenneke (eBook)
  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast and Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking Oregon's Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Oregon's Best Coastal Beaches by Dick Trout
  • Oregon Coast Hikes by Paul M. Williams
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannon

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.